Dolceacqua is a small enclave, just over 80 hectares, in the far west of the Riviera Ligure di Ponente, a few kilometers from France, which boasts a tiny production of wines based on Vermentino and Rossese. The beauty of the place, with its ethereal and timeless landscapes, also led the leader of impressionism, Claude Monet, to fix some traits in his famous “Le Château de Dolceacqua” which include the houses of the old village and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). In this tiny area, stands a tiny producer who owns the oldest vineyard of the entire area, cared for, along with the others, with dedication and care for more than 60 harvests: Nino Perrino.
Nino comes from a family whose surname, as in all the small villages of Italy, had been forgotten, replaced by the name Testalonga, as if to indicate the ability of the Perrino family to see far. Alongside Nino there is today his niece Erica, who has quickly learned the art of producing wine, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, according to the fully handmade style handed down to him by his grandfather.
Oh yes, because Nino makes wine as he learned to do it, starting from 1961, after leaving school, by his father who, until his premature departure (1967), produced wine mainly for himself and for consumers in the surrounding area. The first bottling began only in the 80s and, also the choice to keep the label’s graphic appearance unchanged until today, show how little this winery is influenced by fashions or by the evolution of the times. Even talking about the cellar is an excess, since Nino has a small garage with 8 exhausted barrels of 500 liters where the wines produced from just 2 hectares of vineyard are racked from time to time to clarify and oxygenate them. As for the production techniques used, it all start from the care of the vineyards, made entirely by hand, exclusively with occasional uses of sulfur, after having also banned copper.
Behind the two wines produced, the white one is a sample that Nino has chosen to downgrade to IGT, simply calling it Testalonga Bianco, despite being a 100% Vermentino made from grapes that are harvested with a careful selection in the plant and, next, pressed with your feet without destemming. After a maceration with skins and stems of about five days the must ferments spontaneously, thanks to its indigenous yeasts, and the obtained wine ages in barrels of 500 liters to which I referred, with about eight annual rackings, before bottling and marketing.
The vintage 2020 shows a color halfway between gold and amber, with an olfactory range extraordinarily didactic in which the first emerging scentis that of a sincere grape juice, accompanied by hints of candied cedar, rosemary and chestnut honey, followed by chinese mandarin, Mediterranean scrub, iodine and eucalyptus, with a few final brushstrokes of oxidized Sherry. The palate is captivating, thanks to the citric, balsamic and also oxidative (the latter really tasty) freshness, which are perfectly rebalanced by a trickle of heat, the right glyceric softness and a hint of iodine flavor; all enriched by the return of yellow fruit (both fresh and candied) and Sherry that accompany the sip up to a very long closure.