Carema is both a wine and a village with a population of 800 in the province of Turin, close to the Valle d’Aosta border. Once it was known as a “paese vigneto,” a vineyard village, because pergola-trained grapevines grew all around the houses and filled the gardens and courtyards.
In the early 20th century, wine was an important resource for Carema’s inhabitants, representing one of their major sources of employment and wealth, as well as a symbol of the community’s identity.
Carema’s distinctive vineyards are planted on terraces lining a natural amphitheater, and they rise from 300 meters up to 600 meters above sea level. The terraces make the soil on the steep slopes cultivable and prevent erosion, and the growers have also introduced a method for training for the vines that is well suited to the environmental characteristics: the pergola system, known as topia in Piedmontese dialect, with a framework of beams often supported by pillars (pilun). Apart from holding up the whole pergola system, these truncated cones of stone also have another important function. The stone heats up during the day and releases its warmth overnight, helping maintain a milder microclimate among the vines. In the past, this training system was designed not only to store heat, but also to make the most of the space, with vegetables grown underneath the pergolas.
The vineyards are managed manually. The village is still home to a handful of laborers who know how to maintain this cultivation system, but in a few years this know-how risks completely disappearing. The issue of the abandonment of vineyards is not just creating a void in cultivation and production, but also causing vineyard-management problems for those who are still growing grapes.
The vine-covered terraces cover a total of 13 hectares and the yield is not high. All the grapes are vinified locally and the wine falls under the Carema DOC denomination, established in 1967, which allows only grapes grown within the Carema municipality.
The wine’s characteristics come from the terroir, the grapes—a specific clone from the nebbiolo variety’s picotener biotype, adapted to the local conditions—and the winegrowers’ work. On the nose, Carema is subtle and fresh, with floral and mineral notes; on the palate it is elegant, with dense tannins and great aromatic persistence. The color is fairly orange, distinguishing this mountain wine from other Nebbiolos. Its quality was recognized as far back as the 15th century, and it won many awards in international competitions in the 19th century.
The harvest takes place at the end of October. The wine is available year round.
Carena municipality, Turin province
Presidium supported by
Italian Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance – 2013
Nebbiolo of Carema
(reference Viviano Gassino)
Via Nazionale, 32
Tel. +39 366 3539730
The winery produces wine from the Nebbiolo grapes of 75 members.