If I say: red grapes from Piedmont – what grapes come to mind? Probably Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, right? But hey – you’re forgetting about Pelaverga!
‘Pela-what?’ some of you might ask back.
Yes, Pelaverga, or Pelaverga Piccolo to be formal, is a grape grown in the northwestern parts of Barolo, first and foremost in Verduno, that finally is starting to get the acclaim it deserves.
This thin skinned grape is the base for simple, yet delicate, wines with light ruby colour, light body and juicy flavours of raspberries, wild strawberries, white pepper and bay leaf.
In Verduno this is a historical grape, but one that for long has lived in the shadows of The King Nebbiolo and The Queen Barbera (and yes, compared to them Pelaverga is the mischievous little princess). One of the wineries that really have been in the forefront in the battle for Pelaverga’s regained reputation is Castello di Verduno and wine maker Mario Andrion.
”I love working with Pelaverga, it’s a grape that produces wines that are totally opposite to Barolo and Barbaresco,” Mario says.
And yes indeed, in a region known for seriously long ageing, and wines with a lot of depth and power, Pelaverga stands in bright contrast with its flirtatious and youthful freshness.
”Pelaverga wines are really elegant, but they are wines to be enjoyed in whatever occasion. Around here we say that Pelaverga is an aphrodisiac. These are pleasurable, alluring and seductive wines,” Mario Andrion continues.
This is also why Castello di Verduno’s red Pelaverga – they actually make a white one as well – is called ”Basadone”, which roughly translates into ’womanizer’ or ’the one who kisses the ladies’.
Today many wineries in Verduno – and also elsewhere in the Barolo region – put time and money in producing Pelaverga wines. Another one of them is G.B. Burlotto, where wine maker Fabio Alessandria rejoice the Pelaverga renaissance.
”With the right craftsmanship Pelaverga gives really great wines! Easy drinking, fresh and straightforward, but still with a lot of character and distinction. It’s also a grape that in a great way mirrors the Verduno terroir: the finesse and the softness,” he says.
All in all, Pelaverga preferably drinks best quite cool, around 14 degrees, and makes a great companion to a wide variety of food. Pour it into Bourgogne glasses and enjoy paired with some meat and cheese or simple pasta dishes like carbonara.
Or just gulp greedily on its own.