The Langhe district of Italy’s Northeast Piedmont region is home to the picturesque Bosio Estates. Luca Bosio is the third generation of his family to tend to the gently sloping hillside vineyards purchased by his grandparents, Edigio and Angela, in 1967.
Raised among the vines, Luca inherited a “native intelligence” for farming and growing grapes from his parents and grandparents. He expanded on his natural talents by studying Oenology at the fabled University of Turin. Luca returned from his studies with an array of viticultural and enological innovations including; development of native yeasts, methods to decrease chemical additives, and theories on preserving the aroma and structure of wines from Moscato to Barolo.
Not content to end his academic studies and quest for knowledge, Luca earned a Masters of Oenology. While pursuing his postgraduate degree, he brought a wave of freshness in both the technological and commercial arenas that lead to great success for the family’s wines. In 2012, the family recognized his tireless efforts by changing the winery’s name to Luca Bosio Vineyards and entrusting 25-year-old Luca with the family legacy.
Since then, Luca has rewarded their faith in him by increasing the family’s vineyard holdings to over 1,000 acres in neighboring areas of the Piedmont – where the Italian varietals Gavi, Arneis, Barbera, Barbaresco and Moscato grow best. In 2015 Luca ventured into Piedmont’s best-known region for making Barolo with the purchase of Bel Colle winery and vineyards.
In addition to making long-overdue renovations to the winery and cellars, Luca’s winemaking expertise has added to the label’s long list of accolades (90+ ratings and Gold Medals from the world’s wine media for Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera). In return, Bel Colle has given the self-described “grape academic” new areas of exploration, such as studying the heritage of Nebbiolo polyphenols; natural chemical compounds in plants that protect against ultraviolet light and provide color to the grapes, leaves and vines.
Luca is extremely proud of his Italian heritage and how it has infused his thinking about winemaking and vineyard management. He is experimenting with long maceration in wood barrels and the use of different kinds of wood to find the best match for ageing his red grapes. In addition to the Nebbiolo at Bel Colle, Luca is growing a number of other Italian varietals in order to fuel his passion for indigenous grapes and broadening his namesake label. He grows Langhe Arneis and Cortese di Gavi, native white grapes that are particularly well-suited to the sandy soil in the area. The Arneis vineyards are on the original estate, approximately 400 feet above sea level. Once harvested, the grapes spend 24 hours at low temperatures in contact with their skins to increase the complexities of the aromas, that are clean and floral, with captivating hints of pineapple, apricot and peach. Luca intervenes as little as possible during the winemaking process, allowing traditional fermentation and maceration to take place. The wine then spends three months in contact with its own yeasts and a final three months ageing in bottles before going to market.
The Gavi vineyards are farther east and at a lower altitude than where the Arneis is grown. “They have similar taste profiles, with a bit more minerality and crispness in the Arneis,” he said. “I enjoy tasting them side-by-side in the same vintage, to make sure that each one retains its own unique character.” With the large number of grapes coming from his vineyards, Luca has been able to conduct experiments that expand on his theories about the unique properties of Northern Piedmont grapes. Luca saves bottles of every vintage for blind tastings with his enological team, which provide the kind of feedback that results in better wines. One of Piedmont’s best winemakers once said, “In Piedmont, there are three grapes that allow us to produce age-worthy wines: Nebbiolo, Barbera and Moscato.”
Some of the finest Barbera and Barbaresco wines come from grapes grown in the vineyards around the towns of Asti and Alba. The Luca Bosio Barbera d’Asti and Barbaresco d’Alba are definitive examples. The Barbera d’Asti is a mouth full of red fruit, complimented by silky tannins. An easy-drinking wine that works well with a bowl of Italian red-sauced pasta and meatballs, sausage or a ragu sauce. The Barbaresco d’Alba is a dark red, brooding wine with intense floral aromas and tastes, and chocolate, toast and spicy notes from its time in oak. It has great structure and big tannins, but thanks to 24 months ageing in French and Slovakian oak, the tannins are smooth. It is a wine for Tuscan steak, mushroom risotto, or pasta with truffle sauce.
Moscato is at the opposite end of the grape spectrum from other Italian wines. It is a hearty grape with the most complex aromas of any Piedmont wine – intensely floral, followed by ripe fruits, including green apple, pear and pineapple, and some acacia honey on the finish. Unfortunately, Moscato has suffered at the hands of wine writers that have dismissed it as a cloyingly sweet wine not to be given serious consideration. Luca Bosio Vineyards sits at the epicenter of Italian Moscato production in Santo Stefano Belbo. He has been making a Moscato d’Asti under the Luca Bosio label that earned high praise for its fresh and lightly sweet taste. However, Luca knew he would have to invent something a little more radical to capture the hearts and tastebuds of today’s consumers and change perceptions of this native Italian grape.
Luca started experimenting with different fruit pulp infusions to complement the various aromas in his Moscato. He settled on Passion Fruit and Mango, and named the new brand “Tropical.” They are now the winery’s most popular wines in the US. “Tropical has helped me raise awareness of Italian Moscato as the original - a natural, fruit-driven alternative to Moscato made in many other parts of the world,” Luca said. Tropical now includes Passion Fruit, Mango, Grapefruit, Cranberry, Peach, Strawberry, Cranberry, and Blueberry. In an effort to expand the wine’s audience, Luca has developed a number of signature cocktails featuring Tropical Moscato.
“The Italian Sunrise and Sunset both have the brand’s original flavor, Passion Fruit, as their base,” he explained. “The Sunrise shakes up the flavors with the inclusion of vodka, fresh lime juice and grenadine, while the Sunset ends the day with sparkling lemon-flavored club soda.” Tropical Peach or Grapefruit Moscato, combined with fresh fruit and orange liqueur, give an Italian spin to Sangria. The Spritzer goes Tropical with Mango Moscato and orange-flavored club soda over ice, with a small amount of lemonade, while the Strawberry Froscato mixes Tropical Strawberry with fresh strawberries, club soda, lime juice and simple syrup for a sweet Italian treat.
Luca also became enamored with Riserva wines – recently releasing a Barolo aged eleven years in wood, and raised the bar in Moscato production by creating a single vineyard Moscato d’Asti from old vines, and to develop the aromatic profile of the Moscato grape. In 2016, Luca spent time in the Champagne region, meeting with winemakers and Chefs de Cave to help him create a high-end sparkling wine from Pinot Noir grapes grown at high altitudes in the Langhe Hills.
What Luca has accomplished in less than 15 years at the helm of his eponymous winery (including getting married and having a child) is a laudable testament to his youth, intelligence and curiosity that has him constantly looking for ways to push the envelope with native Italian grapes and the wines made from them.