Erbaluce Innovator: Gianluigi Orsolani

Often compared to the Greco grape variety found in Central and Southern Italy, Erbaluce is a white grape grown around the small town of Caluso, located a few miles north-west of Torino, where it is synonymous with the Orsolani family name. In the last forty years the Orsolani company has developed three benchmark wines made of Erbaluce, confirming their expertise and burnishing their reputation as masters of the variety.

All three of these wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week, July 14-18. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email or call 718-902-1140.

Caluso Sulé 2001
The ancient Erbaluce grape gets its colorful name (literally “Grassy Light”) from the remarkable green-to-amber hue it obtains as it ripens in the gentle autumnal sunlight in the Alpine foothills of northern Piedmont. The small town of Caluso was already renowned for its Erbaluce long before the arrival of the Orsolani company — it was appreciated by the Romans for its ability to produce a luscious dried-grape passito. The gentle use of barrique gives the wine a rich auburn color and a nutty overtone.

Cuvée Tradizione Caluso Spumante 2004
In 1967, Francesco Orsolani (Gianluigi’s father) created the zone’s first metodo classico Erbaluce. The Caluso Spumante Cuvée Tradizione is made from 100% Erbaluce grapes using the metodo classico, whereby the wine is undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle to create its fine pinpoint bubbles, yeasty aromas and white stone-fruit flavors. Orsolani’s groundbreaking sparkling wine lent credibility to an otherwise dismissed variety and showed that the estate was willing to take risks in support of the region’s rich winemaking heritage.

La Rustìa 2007
Orsolani has been making La Rustìa since 1985. While dry Erbaluce had been common in the area for years, the concept of selecting the ripest grapes from the best sites in Caluso’s trellised vineyards had not yet taken hold. The Orsolanis understood that selecting such fruit would result in a wine that was richer on the palate and milder in its acidity, resulting in a remarkably fresh, balanced white. Orsolani calls this Erbaluce di Caluso “La Rustìa“, a dialectal reference to the “roasted” slopes where the grapes are grown with an ideal exposure.

Our full portfolio is available at

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