Italian wine: Here and Now with Hic et Nunc Wines of Monferrato
- WTI Magazine #157 Nov 18, 2022
Hic et Nunc winery is located in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, more specifically in Casale Monferrato, which is about 20 minutes outside of Asti and Alessandro based in the Alessandria province. The winery is located on the lower part of Monferrato, known as Basso Monferrato, that is located on the 45th parallel, a synonymous latitude with some of the greatest wines of the world.
I was intrigued by the origins of the name Hic et Nunc since it seemed unusual for an Italian winery. The name originates from Latin that stands for “here and now”. The here represents the chosen area of Monferrato to grow the wines where the vision is for the “pursuit of authentic purity of aromas and sensorial notes” and there is no better time than the present, “the now”.
In 2012 the Rosolen family, originally from the Friuli region, bought the estate from Giovanni Ratibondi, the winemaker that owned a larger portion of the vineyards. Giovanni remained onboard following the purchase to care for the vineyards. In 2015, Mario Rosolen and his son Massimo, whom is now the President, started producing wines under the Hic et Nunc brand with Cristiano Garella as the winemaker as of 2021.
Hic et Nunc focuses on only local varieties with a focus on single grape varieties including Barbera del Monferrato, Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino and Cortese. The estate is located on about 250 acres of land with 50 acres dedicated to vines totaling a production of about 150,000-160,000 bottles annually. Some of the Barbera vines are over 80+ years old! They believe in making sure the grapes reach full maturation with long maceration times and the juice fermenting in stainless steels tanks with minimal use of wood and when used only using tonneaux. The goal is to make artisanal wines in which they “look for finesse, amaze for its drinkability, the richness of the fruit and complexity of the aromas”.
The soils of the Monferrato vineyards are on ancient sea beds from the Jurassic era consisting of white calcareous soils that produce wines that are aromatic and floral including their Cortese and Grignolino are red clay where their Barbera and Dolcetto are grown. The climate of this area used to be cold with a good amount of rain, but the climate has been changing to a drier climate with higher temperatures with the 2017, 2018 and 2022 being some of the warmest vintages.
The 2019 Hic et Nunc Dolcetto Mondano Monferrato DOC is one of the few Dolcettos being made in Monferrato they mentioned during the tasting. These grapes are hand-picked from a single vineyard in Bricco, the highest vineyard on the estate at 400 meters above sea level with southern exposure and white tuff soils. This wine spends 12 days in maceration and ages 8 months in stainless steel. It was a deeper ruby color with aromas of a blackberry, blueberry jam. Full-bodied with gripping tannins up front that were greeted by juicy blackberries and current notes. ABV 14% 15 euro
The 2021 Hic et Nunc Monolite Cortese Piemonte DOC is grown from 35-40 year old vines. Even though it was my preferred style, it’s important to learn about the white grapes of Piedmont, in this case Cortese. Cortese is a grape known for it’s high acidity, which was prevalent in this bottle. It’s typically a grape made in bulk or has been replaced by Chardonnay. This wine spent 90% in stainless steel with 10% in barrique without fining or filtering for freshness. ABV 14%. 21 Euro
I loved comparing their two Barbera wines with two very different styles. The more fresh, juicy 2018 Hic et Nunc Femminile Singolare Barbera del Monferrato and the more structured, fuller bodied 2018 Hic et Nunc Monumento Barbera del Monferrato Superiore.
The 2018 Hic et Nunc Femminile Singolare Barbera del Monferrato DOC is made from 100% Barbera hand-harvested from 3 vineyards sites close to the winery. The grapes are grown in a mixture of soils to include red clay, limestone and white marl. This wine is not fined or filtered and spends 15 days in maceration with 12 months in stainless steel only. Deep ruby in color with garnet hues. Aromas of freshly crushed blackberries, cherry and black cherry with baking spice notes. Medium-bodied with lively acidity with juicy black fruits that were persistent throughout. ABV 14% 16 euro
In comparison is the 2018 Hic et Nunc Monumento Barbera del Monferrato Superiore DOC also made of 100% Barbera, but these grapes are grown from 80 year old vines from 2 of the oldest sites on top of the Mongetto hill that receive an abundance of sunshine. Here the soils are more iron based, which happens to be found in the name in where these vines are grown in Monferrato with “ferro” translating to iron. This wines spends 30 days in maceration with 12 months in stainless steel and an additional 15 months in French oak. A deeper color in comparison to the prior Barbera with a much different aromatic profile lending more towards an herbal nose with luscious vanilla and cherry. A layered, full-bodied with moderate tannin, a solid acidic backbone with riper fruits. Seems like a warming wine to sit by the fire as we creep into fall. ABV 15% 26 euro