Autumn heralds the highly anticipated white truffle season in Italy. And, when it comes to wines to complement the perfumed tuber - the best of which are said to come from Alba - many choose those from Piedmont, near the Alps.
Piedmont's most noble grape, nebbiolo, is used for wines from Barolo to Barbaresco, with the fruit's thin skin producing light-coloured varieties. The grapes are fickle and susceptible to vine diseases, but make top wines that can be beautifully complex and pure. Wine writer Jamie Goode describes nebbiolo as being "like a brilliant friend with a prickly personality".
"You like to hang out with them, but about half the time they are having an off-day and it's kind of difficult," he says.
Nebbiolo's high acidity and firm tannins give its wines enough structure for long-term cellaring.
Giovanni Massolino founded his family business in 1896. Based in the village of Serralunga d'Alba, the family owns some of the best local vineyard sites. Their techniques are a mix of the traditional and modern with a lot of time spent in the vineyard to ensure the highest quality fruit at consistent ripeness levels.
The fruit is fermented and aged in large oak casks, and wine styles are pure and elegant.
Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo 2011
Weather conditions are variable in Piedmont and have a huge impact on wine quality. As a general trend, climate change has been beneficial for red grapes in helping them to reach optimum ripeness levels. The year 2011 was a hot one and nebbiolo ripened early with high sugar levels.
Ripe cherry with savoury earthy notes. Medium body with soft tannins. Simple and easy to drink. A good quality entry-level nebbiolo wine. HK$250
Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva 2007
Wine critic Antonio Galloni raves about the 2007 vintage. "The wines are radiant, intensely perfumed and totally seductive, yet not at all heavy, in a style that offers the textural richness of a warm vintage with the aromatics of a cool year."
Vigna Rionda is Massolino's top vineyard, producing wines replete with strength and concentration. According to Massolino, the soil's high iron component gives the wines depth and longevity. Wines have been aged for six years before release - three and a half years in traditional large Slavonian oak barrels, and the remainder in the bottle.
Still quite restrained on the nose with dark fruits, black cherries and savoury notes. Powerful and concentrated fruit with firm underlying tannins, crisp acidity and a long finish. Will benefit from decantering. Still very young with potential for ageing 10 years and more. HK$1,350
Massolino Moscato d'Asti 2014
Last year was a difficult one, with hail decimating yields.
With its easygoing, irreverent personality, Moscato d'Asti is the contrast to Barolo. Low alcohol (5.5 per cent), the wines can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Made from the muscat blanc a petit grains grape.
Grapey with tropical perfumed lychees. Balanced, with a gentle fizz, low acidity, a touch of sweetness and vibrant fruit. A charming wine that will make you smile and can be enjoyed at the beginning or end of a meal. HK$160
The wines are available from sinovantagewines.com