Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Spanna, local name for the nebbiolo grape grown in the north of piemonte in north-west Italy, particularly in a historic wine zone in the hills of Vercelli and Novara provinces.

Five doc wines and two docgs, Gattinara and Ghemme, are made either wholly or in part from Spanna: three in the Vercelli hills (bramaterra, gattinara, lessona) and four in the province of Novara (boca, fara, ghemme, and sizzano). Only Gattinara and Ghemme, responsible for some of the longest-lived Spanna wines, are made in any quantity today but in the 19th century this area had greater plantings, and was more famous for its wines, than the langhe. Spanna wines had an excellent reputation before the Second World War and were quite popular in the major market of nearby Milan, but the post-war period saw a loss of ground to the richer and more professionally made Nebbiolo wines of the Langhe, particularly barolo and barbaresco. The extreme fragmentation of vineyard property and a workforce that moved to the textile factories of nearby Biella accelerated the decline of winemaking in this area, but this group of wine zones is attracting attention once more, not least because of the finesse of its best wines.