The timorasso is a white grape variety famous for its wines that can age for a long time in the bottle and develop fascinating hydrocarbon notes. The timorasso vine variety originates from Piedmont and in particular of Colli Tortonesi, in the province of Alessandria. As far as its history is concerned, there are not many documents attesting to its passage through the centuries even though it is believed to have very ancient origins in this area. What is certain is that due to its difficulty of cultivation, its relatively low productivity and its being a white vine in a land of great red wines, it was gradually abandoned until it risked disappearing. In the last decades of the 20th century, thanks to the commitment and passion of a few visionary winegrowers such as Walter Massa, there has been a real renaissance of this vine thanks also to the recovery of old vines.

Timorasso: characteristics

... of the plant

  • Appearance: leaf medium, wedge-shaped, with three to five lobes, open U-shaped petiolar sinus. The upper page is glabrous, dull green in colour. The underside is downy and bottle green in colour. Petiole long, moderately thick and with dense hair.
  • Maturation: 3rd decade of September. Bunch large, with two or three wings, conical-pyramidal, elongated, moderately compact. Grape fairly large spheroid-ellipsoid and regular in shape. Peel thick and consistent, pruinose and yellow-green in colour. Pulp just fleshy and juicy with colourless juice of neutral flavour.
  • Productivity: scarce, but is regular in the province of Alba.
  • Vigour: scarce.
  • Resistance to adversity: It resists cryptogamic diseases and the elements very well.
Timorasso vine leaf

... of wine produced

Timorasso is particularly well adapted to the clay and limestone soils of the Piedmont hills, which contribute to the wine's marked minerality and great capacity for ageing.

  • Visual examination: bright, intense straw yellow turning to golden.
  • Olfactory examination: delicate to intense, characteristic, herbaceous and with notes ranging from herbs to wild flowers.
  • Taste-olfactory examination: fresh, soft, with a somewhat high pseudo-calorie (needs to be checked), great structure and excellent drinkability. One of its qualities is its ease of pairing.

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Timorasso: cultivation areas

  • Italy: (suitable areas) Lombardy, Piedmont.
  • World: none.

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Timorasso: Italian DOCG and DOC wines where allowed

  • DOCG: none.
  • DOC: Colli Tortonesi.
Timorasso cluster

Conclusion

The history of this grape variety is fascinating because it is a story of rebirth and redemption, marked by a period of near oblivion until its recent redemption and valorisation. Today, it is considered one of Italy's most important white grape varieties thanks to its ability to produce wines of remarkable aromatic intensity, structure and ageing capacity. Sommeliers who have the opportunity to taste white wine Timorasso Derthona and hear its expressions in the various vintages, they can detect another characteristic that makes this grape variety even more important. Some experts define the timorasso grape variety - as is also the case for thealbana in Romagna - a red wine disguised as white. At a time when climate change is changing market dynamics and is destined to penalise above all still or sparkling white wines, which need to develop greater acidity and are more sensitive to these particularly hot years, such a powerful grape variety is destined to survive and prosper as conditions become more difficult. Of course, timorasso has a poor production especially outside its area of origin as it is very sensitive to the concept of terroir, but if I think for example of the 2022 vintage, the Friulian wines suffered greatly, especially in terms of smell, while the Piedmontese wines made from timorasso grapes held up perfectly to the climatic difficulties.

Sources:

© Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies, National Catalogue of Vine Varieties.

© Bassi C., Sommelier: the illustrated manual, Cammeo DiVino, Reggio Emilia, 2022, p. 185

© Piemonteland (cover photo)

Other white grape varieties to be studied:

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