Tag Archives: Barbera

Paitin estate in Barbaresco 2015: Impressive Barbaresco from an estate with a long history

In May 2015 we spent a beautiful afternoon at the Paitin Estate in Barbaresco, Piedmont, where we met up with the humble and very friendly Silvano Pasquero-Elia as well as tasting a large selection of their wines. Frederik had been here once before and we tasted their pride barbaresco riserva 2001 here. The estate has a very long history dating back to 1798 and is today run by Secondo Pasquero-Elia together with his two sons; Giovanni and Silvano. Actually, Silvano explains, part of the cellar is from the 15th Century. The family exported their first barbaresco in 1893.

Paitin

Silvano Pasquera-Elia showing what high grass and pea plants they grow in every 2nd aisle

During our visit we went into the west-side of the Bricco di Neive vineyard which is situated just below their winery. On the south-west facing side of this vineyard it is very steep at the top and has more or less a constant wind which keeps it rather dry and the grapes fresh. Actually, this helps to keep possible mildew away after heavy rains. However, at the top it is too windy for nebbiolo. They use natural fertilisation which means that they let the aisle between the vines grow wildly with high growing pea plants that also forces the roots of the vines to dig deeper that renders more complexity.

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Every second row with grass and pea plants

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Silvano showing which shoots that they keep

Only every second aisle is treated this way and the next year they switch. They also fertilise with cow manure. The riserva sorì Paitin is made from older vines planted in 1965 from the middle part on the south side of their house. The soil is blue and white containing high levels of calcareous  marls with harder tufa 30 cm below from the Tortonian period, Silvano adds. Silvano explains that all preparations are done before flowering and it is their belief that they render healthier grapes this way and that green harvest afterwards is not the right way and unnatural. They leave a few of the best bunches per plant and during the growth season, the plants suck on the nutrition already in the vineyard. This is what we hear several growers say nowadays that manage to improve quality. It all happens after careful hard work in the vineyards long before the growing season.

On the east side of the house, the soil is quite different. It contains a lot of clay, sand, is loose and is more red-brown-yellow in colour from iron and sulphur when compared to the south-west side of the house rendering a totally different expression with its different micro climate. Here they grow barbera for the Serra bottling and nebbiolo for the Nebbiolo d’Alba labelled Ca Veja.

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The rotor fermentor

Silvano explains their canopy management and that the ratio leaves/bunches is really important too.

In the winery several different methods have been used through the years and the process is adapted to the vintage and grapes. Today they do not use any new oak for the Nebbiolo grapes, but only 1-3 year-old. However, for the Barbera both french- and Slavonian new wood is used except for the Campolive. Modern rotor fermenters for fermentation are still used, but to a lesser extent. The change came as they started consulting Dante Scaglione, the famous enologist from the legendary Bruno Giacosa, in 2008. DSC04232Dante also convinced them to start conducting the traditional submerged caps during fermentation. Silvano says that they now use steel, but he and his brother are considering start using cement for its gentle extraction and slow temperature fluctuations.

The wines we tasted

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The tasting line-up

2014 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Langhe Arneis “Vigna Elisa”

Arneis is a challenging grape to grow and the name actually means little rascal in the Piemontese language. Much of the taste is in the skin of the grape and the wines can be rather sweet, but using the skins adds a lot of aromas as they conduct a secondary maceration. Silvano says that the grape has a relation to nebbiolo michet variety.

Both on the nose and in the taste we find lots of yellow pears, goose berries, ginger and hints of rather sweet exotic fruit. This gives a generous and pleasant impression and it is a wine which is easy to enjoy. The level of acidity is rather low and quite broad with some lemon notes.

83p/100

2014 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia ‘Sori Paitin’ Dolcetto d’Alba

This wine is aged stainless steel but for more complex vintages they use wood.

The wine has very clear cherry notes but also some sweeter notes of candy.

On the palate, the fruit is dominant and fresh but has a slightly sharp notes from red current, but also lingon berries and underbrush.
There are some hints of tannins in the finish but in the end we are left with a fresh acidic impression.

85p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Serra”

The soil on the east side of their house has a lot of clay, sand and is more red-brown-yellow compared to the south-west side, so the soil changes and the exposure is east here too. The grape juice are fermented in rotor fermentors and nowadays aged in second passage barriques for a year.

We are greeted with intense red fruit notes on the nose but also some hints of wood glue and some delicate floral notes.

The palate follow in the same style but more dominated by the fruit notes, dry licorice-root, minerals and dry blood orange. The acidity is really good and rather soft for a barbera. Texture is very smooth with any edges at all and it has precision. Delightful.

89-90p/100

2011 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Campolive”

This wine has been fermented in rotor fermentor and aged for three years in neutral wood.

Very dense, deep, quite intense nose of pure fruit from both black and red berries complemented by some clear oil paint notes, earthy notes and underbrush. Despite the denseness the nose is still very controlled and almost a bit reserved. After a while some ethereal notes and hints of flowers appear along with an aristocratic, delicate perfume lingering.

On the palate there are complex layers of fruit, with everything from blueberries to raspberries, figs, raisins, all clean and ripe. In the background there are hints of barnyard, but it does not get unpleasant. It is persistent, generous and quite elegant too.

The acidity is great, with just enough energy, precision but also a smooth finish.
This is a fantastic wine that shows how good barbera can become in the right hands.

92-93p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Campolive”

On the nose, this wine comes off as quite direct and with almost sharp red fruit. Probably because of a young age.

When moving to the palate the balance is great with fantastic pure fruit and a fresh acidity, which stays surprisingly restrained.

Again a fanstastic barbera. Compared with the 2011 this wine has more precision but on the other hand the 2011 had more personality and a more dense expression.

91-92p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Paitin Langhe Nebbiolo “Ca Veja”

Very pure red fruit notes that are rather thin but with very precise fragrance. Raspberries and fragrant flowers dominate, but there are also some hints of almond, crushed stones, wood glue and eucalyptus in the background.

Similar impression on the palate but here it is complemented by some quite sandy, harsh tannins that unfortunately gets slightly dry in the finish. Acidity is fresh wrapping orange peel and grape juice.

The wine has great precision and is fresh with nice fruit, but gets a bit harsh with the tannins.

87-88p/100

2011 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Sori Paitin”

Quite light, but elegant and showing personality with pure, deep vibrant red fruit with a sweet touch, some ethereal notes and lovely rose petals. There are also clear herbal notes; mainly eucalyptus, nutmeg and some white flowers.

Tannins are great with grip but still soft and they complement a rather citric acidity with some balsamic grape notes. Nutmeg, blood orange, sweet blood grape, gravel and exotic flavours.

For perfect balance we would need more fruit notes to balance the acidity and the tannins.
This is an elegant wine with very good potential.

91-92p/100

2010 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Vecchie Vigne Sori Paitin”

Produced from the oldest vines in the middle of the Bricco di Neive vineyard planted in 1965. This vintage had a 45-days extraction (maceration) and is the first vintage without new oak, but second passage.

The nose is very balsamic and offers some great fruit with amazing purity as well as a really elegant, super-fresh perfume of rose petals and grace. There are both strawberries and raspberries to be found on the nose and the palate.

Tannins are rather grippy and sweet and of great quality, never showing any signs of dryness. In the finish the intense fruit and precise acidity dominate. The balance is impressive and texture is velvety.

This wine has a very restrained power to it and therefore manages to be both elegant and generous.

94-95p/100

2004 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Vecchie Vigne Sori Paitin”

This vintage had a maceration of 15 days and 20 percent of the wine was aged on barriques.

Very deep nose with notes of oil paint combined with dense fruit. Despite the expressive and generous impression the wine is never over the top.

The palate has much of everything but the different entities stay in good balance. The fruit is complemented with some earthy notes and under vegetation. Acidity is cool and precise and ensures that the wine never gets heavy.

The wine is all about complexity and a well controlled power.

95p/100

 

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Silvano and Andreas

Piedmont Trip 2013: Giuseppe Rinaldi – Great single vineyard barolo against their will

The Rinaldi family has a long history trailing back to the 19th Century when farmers sold their grapes per kilogram to negotiants and the family at the time had the opportunity to buy their land in the 1870’s.

In November in 2013 on our week in Piedmont, we met with Marta Rinaldi for a tour in the cellar and we were absolutely very exited to taste the very interesting 2010 vintage that is so promising, due to its perfect phenolic maturity conditions. Marta has a degree in enology and has been working along side her father for a while now. She also practices water polo in the nearby town of Alba.

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Big botte everywhere in this cellar

The estate is situated only 300 m outside of the epicenter of the town of Barolo in a brick house that really breathes history having the Le Coste vineyard just below the house. The current owner is “Beppe” Rinaldi and he runs the estate together with his daughters Carlotta and Marta. Actually, his grandfather, bearing the same name, founded the estate Giuseppe Rinaldi back in 1922 after Giovanni Rinaldi split his owning between Francesco and Giuseppe Rinaldi. Beppe who was at the time making a career as a veterinarian in 1992, decided to step into the family business when his father passed away.

Beppe is so much of an integrated part of traditional wine making here in Langha, Piedmont. A visit to the estate really feels like travelling back in time where nothing is thrown away and there are so many things to inspect e.g old bottles on the book shelves, gifts from friends, photos with an important history and old wine making equipment. To be honest, we didn’t talk at all with Beppe at our visit. Marta just tapped her father on the back insisting that he at least said hello and shock hands. Beppe is obviously a wine maker that is totally consumed by and dedicated to his work as a self-taught and stubborn control-freak with a do-it-all yourself approach. For instance, like cleaning a big barrel (botte) himself, even though it is a lot of work, but just because he knows it is done correctly if only he does it rather than trusting somebody else. During our visit he was everywhere in the cellar grumbling about.

In addition, Beppe is a self-taught enologist, so he controls the whole production-cycle thus really everything from working the vines to selecting grapes, vinification and final blending into bottles. In the vineyard they are organic, but don’t care to certify since they just work with nature and have never used chemicals. Marta admits that it has been quite a tough school and that her father is incredibly stubborn with his strong believes and principles where mistakes are not accepted and that he can be quite rude and arrogant at times. Some rumours even say that Beppe used to sleep in the winery at times when the work alone was just too much.

It is no secret that Beppe joined forces with left-wing Bartolo Mascarello during the modernista movement back in the 90’s to protect what they sincerely considered being sacred; only using neutral oak to affect the unique characteristics of their grapes as little as possible, make wines for long ageing and deeply believing that blending vineyards renders the best expression of the site, since no vineyard can be perfect itself every year and that some vineyards are complementary.

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A 100-year-old open vat for maceration is still used

We are talking about fermentation in a very old open vat claimed to be almost 100 years old, lengthy maceration on the skins with the ultra-traditional submerged cap method in about two weeks with daily punch-downs. They used to do extraction in cement as Bartolo Mascarello is still doing, but not anymore. Then, the malo as well as ageing is carried out in large Slavonian oak barrels (botte) for 36 months and is only racked 3-4 times. He does have a few steel vats in where he raises his dolchetti and they are also used when resting the grape juice of nebbiolo, freisa and barbera after alcoholic fermentation. However, nothing here appears to be a precise science, but rather based on intuition from experience. These somewhat hands-off methods renders unaffected wines with fantastic ageing potential and very honest expression from its site; the terroir. The only possible negative effects are that the wines can be a little harsh in their youth, but our experience is that Rinaldi manages to avoid excessive harshness and the wines are surprisingly approachable considering much lower breathing in neutral and old barrels.

Rinaldi has an interesting collection of vineyards, and since 1993 they have produced two Barolo blends, one cuvée of min 60% grapes from Brunate and max 40% from Le Coste. The second cuvée is made of Cannubi-San Lorenzo and Ravera. However, from the 2010 vintage this will need to change since regulations for Barolo blends have been adjusted and it will no longer be allowed to put several vineyards on a label of a barolo. Moreover, under the same laws a single-vineyard labelled barolo needs to contain min 85% of the grapes from its stated geographical designation, so Beppe may still add 15% Le Coste juice into the final blend. And he does. Hence, in practice it is actually not as dramatic change really as you might think as the amount of Le Coste is just lowered from 30-40% to 15. Beppe who is no fan of authorities, especially when it boils down to “bureaucracy setup by people that know nothing about wine making from Rome” is not happy about these regulations which go against the old tradition of Barolo blends. Marta told us that they most likely will produce single vineyard labelled Barolos, but at the time of our visit this was not 100% decided. Now, when writing this post we know from April this year that Beppe finally had decided to put Brunate on one label and blend the other three into a wine that will be called Tre Tine. However, bureaucracy really did force them, but the really good effect of this is that the 2010 Brunate is the best Giuseppe Rinaldi barolo we ever tasted! Maybe even the best Brunate too.

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It is very obvious that Beppe and Marta are dedicated to producing wines that are honest and transparent to the lands of Langha, wines that they enjoy themselves and the kind that are in line with its proud tradition rather than focusing on marketing and sales. This honest approach, is one of the reasons for our love for this estate. The more obvious reason, is of course that they do not have to, since the demand is definitely greater than the supply, partly because of very reasonable price levels and their reputation. Therefore it is a bit ironic that the estate at the moment probably is among the trendiest in the region along side Bartolo Mascarello of the traditionalists as honest and transparent wines finaly are seeing a true renaissance. Unfortunately, it can be a true struggle to even find bottles from Giuseppe Rinaldi on the market. Especially now as Burgundy lovers start to get interested in barolos due to the insane prices in Burgundy of the latest three troublesome vintages with incredibly low yields.Moreover, Beppe is not the least interested in anything modern and shuns email, computers, mobile phones and even though he speaks on the telephone, it still appears to irritate him a little. Hence, you should not expect to book a meeting with him via e-mail and you will probably never follow Beppe on Twitter or Instagram 😉 However, the daughters may open up for modernism in this regard, but hopefully not in the wine making.

Notes from the tasting

This was the first time we had a chance to try Rinaldi’s wines as single vineyards, since all vineyards are vinified separately and blended at stage of bottling. This made it one of the most interesting visits of this trip.

2012 Rosae

The nose is very fresh and has an abundance of red fruit but also some sweet notes.The taste is also dominated by fruit and with a pleasant acidity which gives freshness to the wine.This is a wine which is easy to enjoy and it was a pleasant start of the wine tasting and a wine we had not tried before.

88p/100

2012 Dolcetto

The dolcetto from Rinaldi is produced and aged in steel tanks.

We can best describe this as a classical dolcetto with lots of cherries and red fruit. No surprises here but definitely a quality dolcetto.

87p/100

2012 Barbera

This wine is aged for 7 months in barrel.Here we find deep, quite dark and ripe fruit, mainly cherries and blueberries.In the taste we ageing find lots of blueberries and a quite crispy and fresh acidity. This is a Barbera with well balanced acidity and nice fruit. We also like the freshness of the wine.

89p/100

2012 Langhe Freisa

On the nose we find fresh raspberries, hints of solvent and some menthol. There is an abundance of red fruit, like wild strawberries and the fruit has a tendency towards sweetness. The tannins are a bit sandy and need some more time to integrate.

This is a pleasant Freisa which also acts as a good bridge over to the Baroli we are now moving over to…

89p/100

2010 Brunate – tasted from barrel

As other vineyards in the La Morra, this unofficial grand cru contains calcareous marls with high level of slit and clay as well as micro-elements of potassium and magnesium; 25% sand, 45% slit and 30% clay. It is  a warm site, but retains water well and is composed of comparably less sand than others.The nose is pleasantly not reduced, but quite seductive and quite open considering it is a barrel tasting. The nose emerges with a fruity nose with raspberries, strawberries, clear balsamic notes, cardamom, distinct anise seeds and some licorice-root. However, what impresses us most is the level of depth in here and precision already at this early state.

When tasting the wine we are immediately met by a very clear, precise and crisp acidity. The Brunate is quite balsamic and there are lots of seductive red berries. The tannins are surprisingly soft and almost velvety already and the wine has a quite long finish with everything in place.We are very much looking forward to tasting this wine from bottle soon. It is already surprisingly approachable, elegant, impressive balance and with deep aromas.

94-96+p/100

2010 Ravera – tasted from barrel

Lots of red fruit, dominated by strawberries on the nose. The taste reveals much darker fruit and depth than the nose and we are met by tannis which are quite sandy.

This wine lacks the elegance and depth of the Brunate, but it will be interesting to follow how it develops. We would describe it as quite rustic, but deep.

91+p/100

2010 Cannubi-San Lorenzo – tasted from barrel

It has a classical Cannubi nose with both red and dark berries. We also find blueberries, leather, strawberries and some tar on this complex and interesting nose.This wine has a fantastic structure and should age very well. Right now the tannins are a bit dry but this will likely improve with time.

This is a wine which is characterised by structure and fruit. It has great potential and we expect and interesting development after a few years.

92-93p/100

Summary

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Andreas and Marta

You certainly know what you get when you drink a wine from Giuseppe Rinaldi, i.e. terroir-driven wines produced with classical methods that are truly honest and transparent to its origins. Even though opposing the estate’s principles, the move towards single vineyard labelled wines will be interesting to follow and we were really impressed by the wines, especially the 2010 brunate that clearly stood out from the others and was simply stunning and already approachable in this marvellous vintage.

Piedmont Trip 2013: Conterno – The great protector of tradition and terroir

The estate Giacomo Conterno is legendary in Piedmont and the estate has had a leading role in establishing Barolo on the map as one of the top wine regions in the world. However, still it is the modernist Gaja and legendary Bruno Giacosa who both are more well-known outside Piedmont. Roberto Conterno, who is the third generation vintner, were forced to take charge of the estate when his father Giovanni passed away in 2004, is a man of few words, but with power behind every statement. Since 1988, he had been working closely with his father so he was well educated for the task, but unprepared. Since the last time I was here I get the feeling that even though Roberto is proud of the family’s great wines, he apparently has a heavy legacy on his shoulders to continue on the path set up by his father and ensure its excellence. Amazingly, he appears to be doing most of the work himself, except sales and bookings. Two people in the staff seems to be working with importers and sales as well as one assistant, but there is one elderly man helping out in the vineyard too. Still it is a small team.

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Roberto Conterno

The crown jewel in the estates production is the Monfortino which was first produced in 1920 by Roberto’s grandfather Giacomo shortly after returning from World War I. Actually, the estate was established in 1908 by Giovanni Conterno, grand father Giacomo’s father, but it was Giacomo, who realised his vision of making a really great Barolo for long ageing and supremacy. Monfortino was given its name to celebrate the town of Monforte d’Alba where is home to the Conterno family. At that time the grapes where bought from a selection of local farmers in the same fashion that Giacosa still does. This later changed during the 1970s when many of these growers started bottling their own wine. To solve this problem Roberto’s father acquired the complete Francia vineyard in 1974, a very steep vineyard with south-west exposition, very high altitude for freshness and soil suitable for longevity and since 1978 all grapes for the Monfortino comes from this vineyard.

The Monfortino is only produced in exceptional vintages and with the top selection of grapes.

In June 2008, the second time in the estates history, a vineyard was acquired and this time two sections in the Cerretta vineyard in Serralunga. About 2 ha of nebbiolo and 1 of barbera. Compared to Francia, it has less calcareous and more white clay. The wine from this vineyard has been sold as declassified Langhe Nebbiolo since then, but from the 2010 vintage Roberto has confirmed that the wine will be bottled as Barolo.

Suddenly, Roberto’s assistant, Stephanie, tells us that he is ready to receive us after a previous visit and we shake hands, he apologises for being a little late and we quickly move down for a tour in the cellar. Visits with Roberto is not what we would call informal and laid back, but Roberto is not the open type and apparently he has a tight schedule with multiple things to attend to all the time. Even though, Roberto obviously understands English he still keeps an assistant that translates everything back and forth. The cellar is impeccably clean as it was last time I was here for some vat tasting of the 2008’s about two years ago and there is still plenty of room down here among the big neutral, large 45-50 hl Slavonian and Austrian barrels.

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The Austrian open top vats for fermentation on the skins

Roberto is especially satisfied with his wooden Austrian open vats used for maceration and alcoholic fermentation from Franz Stockinger that are both mobile and has a removable top as well if needed. Actually, he has in recent years exchanged old, used big Slavonian barrels with ones from Stockinger. The vinification process is adapted to the vintage but for the Monfortino they always use an uncontrolled fermentation at high temperature levels with open tops. The maceration period is up to about five weeks, but the exact length is dependent on the vintage and the grape juice is then stored in large oak casks for seven years or more. This produces wine with great structure, complexity and a very long life. Roberto explains that he makes the decision if he will produce a Monfortino during vinification and if it is not up to standard, he pours it into the Barolo casks. The Barolo from Francia undergoes 3-4 weeks of maceration with daily pumping over and/or submerged cap depending on vintage, temperature-controlled fermentation and shorter ageing in cask, typically four years.

Even though the open vats are great, it is in the vineyard the real magic takes place, Roberto assures us, when I ask him what is most important. Without high quality grapes, there is no quality wine no matter what vinification you use appears to be the obvious principle and we can only agree fully. Roberto keeps very high trellising system with his vines for, as he explains, get correct leaves-grapes ratio to optimise energy into the grapes and the rows are very wide to avoid shadowing. The Cerretta vineyard is very young planted in 1994, but in Francia many are much older and the youngest vines were planted in 2002. Moreover, he prunes his nebbiolo and barbera grapes differently but short to perfect ripeness and yields are controlled at about 25-30 hl/ha to achieve top quality. Grapes are harvested entirely by hand.

Back in the tasting room, Roberto offers us his two Barberas from 2011, the 2009 Barolo Cascina Francia and the sought-after 2006 Monfortino. Roberto tells us that the quality of tannins is the key for making great wine of nebbiolo and that is why he usually waits longer to harvest than many others. He explains that he is less focused on sugar levels, but chewing on the skin and seeds to determine when the tannins are ripe. “The tannins shall be ripe, not hard but chewy”, Roberto quickly adds “and the seeds shall be brown and taste wood”. And of course, this is the single most important reason he only use traditional, neutral wood, since new wood or barriques, except for adding non-terroir wood sensations, they add tannins that are not from the soil and the unique terroir of Langhe. Moreover, back in the late 1800 and first half of 20th Century, most farmers still picked very early in classic vintages with cooler temperatures, so the tannins would not be perfect ever and once the tannins had finally polymerised, the fruit had dried out long time ago. This became the vast opinion about barolos for along time as being undrinkable, harsh and dry, which never was the case with Conterno’s barolos. However, still the wines have never been made for early drinking, but to be perfected by slow ageing to be drinkable in two or three decades while stay alive and fresh for more than 50 in classic vintages. According to Roberto, all of this reached another quality level during Roberto’s father’s time at the estate.

The tasting

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The line-up for our tasting

The vintage 2011 for barbera, that we are tasting today, Roberto explains, is great for this grape that does its best in warmer years and in this case it rendered more structure and complexity than usual, whereas nebbiolo gets its most classic expression in cooler years when the growing cycle is slower and the tannins may reach perfect ripeness very late, Roberto points out.

The 2009 vintage was far from ideal for nebbiolo and suffered from a too hot summer that endured into September causing precisely this undesired fast growing cycle as well as an early, patchy ripeness. However, by doing a ruthless selection in the vineyard, he rendered a really good result. The 2009 barolos were bottled in June this year and Roberto thinks that the 2009 vintage offers just a little less fruit, but more tannins compared to for example another warm year, 2007. He likes the more simpler early drinkable, but still quite impressive, 2009’s, but like 2007 it obviously did not have the classic expression of the terroir and quality for long ageing suitable for Monfortino. In the Cerretta, he thinks the vintage is even better than the more classic and in his opinion fantastic 2008. In Francia, it is the other way around and here the soil contains more minerals, whereas in the Cerretta, tannins and fruit dominate. We ask him about the somewhat unexpected coolness and freshness of the fruit in the warm 2009 vintage and his reply is that this is very much due to the altitude in Francia. In fact, the altitude reaches 420 meters above sea-level so this make sense and you can easily grasp that cool winds from the mountains at nights can build a lot of necessary fresh acidity.

2011 Barbera d’Alba Cerretta

The colour is very dark, crimson with light-light orange edges.

The nose is fresh, pure dark fruit; mainly dark cherries and plum. Some herbs and minerals.

The mid palate offers creamy, quite deep layers of black fruit (cherries, plum and blue berries), smoke, herbs, spices and complex minerals. Incredible concentration, the structure is quite big for a Barbera and it’s fat, rich and intense. Texture is fine sandy and tannins are thick and chewy. Acidity is energetic and needs to calm down further for a few years.

Right now this vineyard is a little more about earthy notes and loads of minerals, but we think in some years the vines will most likely produce more fruit. It is already an impressively deep, pure and overall balanced wine considering how young the vineyard is. Open 2015-2020.

92p/100

2011 Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia

The colour is dark garnet red with light-purple edges.

Immediately deep, elegant perfumes and dried rose petals emerges from the glass. Incredibly fresh and ripe fruit. Very balsamic notes and some solvent and autumn leaves.

The palate offers deep, complex and very fresh layers of ripe black fruit. There is some shale here too, crushed stone and balsamic notes. A very energetic and very balsamic-fresh acidity. Quite weightlessly powerful but with slim structure and a lot of fine tuned, complex saline lime stone minerals. A slimmer, more fresh, a more balanced and much different expression of the two Barberas, that is really conveying the unique terroir of the Cascina Francia vineyard. Impressive depth, concentration and balance. Simply a fantastic Barbera. Open 2014-2025.

93p/100.

2009 Barolo Cascina Francia

The colour is dark ruby red with transparent edges.

Very deep, very fragrant, quite feminine, perfumes and dried rose petals emerges from the glass. Incredibly fresh and ripe fruit follows. Very balsamic and there are some complex autumn scents.

The mid palate offers impressively deep, complex and super-fresh layers of cool, very ripe and pure fruit; typically raspberry, cherries and wild strawberries. There is some shale here too, crushed stone, tiny grape-peel, some tar, dry licorice-root, mint and balsamic notes. A very fresh, balsamic acidity that is already quite integrated. Texture is fine sandy, almost silky already and tannins are thick and pleasingly chewy. Weightlessly powerful and with slim structure and a lot of fine tuned, complex little saline lime stone. A very approachable Barolo with a lot of complex aromas and great cool, fresh and ripe fruit indeed. This is a wine of impressive depth, concentration and balance as well as being incredibly persistent and very elegant at the same time. This year, all the grapes went into the barolo, since no Monfortino was made. Open 2017-2035.

96-97p/100.

2006 Barolo Monfortino

The colour is dark ruby red with orange edges.

Very deep, very fragrant top notes, feminine, perfumes and dried rose petals comes out of the glass. Incredibly fresh and ripe fruit. Very balsamic too and complex autumn scents at the base.

The mid palate offers impressively complex, super-fresh, breath-taking depth of cool, fresh and very ripe fruit. In addition, there is shale, some licorice-root, very balsamic, tiny notes of grape-peel, gravel, notes of tobacco and distinct minerals. The little saline, balsamic acidity is already well integrated with the tannins that are polished, ripe and chewy. From a vintage that is very powerful and tannic, it was a surprise how soft and polished they are already.

With this wine, everything gets up a notch and you grab for descriptive words like purity, insane balance, complexity, unbelievable depth and sheer elegance. Wow! What an iconic wine. It is all in here, the combination of power and elegance as well as the deep, complex aromas to be explored and all so effortlessly balanced into wonderful harmony. A surprisingly very approachable Barolo this young when considering the vintage, but it will most likely peak much later. Open 2020-2050.

99p/100

Summary

Well we already knew that people around the world worship this estate’s wines and especially the Monfortino, but after this tasting and meeting with Roberto, we can confirm that we are more convinced now of the estate’s importance and quality level where the wines ranges from fantastic to extraordinary. The 2006 Monfortino was the best wine we tried during our week long visit in Piedmont.

We did expect depth and complexity in the wines but in addition we where impressed especially by the cool freshness and impeccable balance the wines offered. And there is the 2010 barolos to be released next year too and we can hardly wait. It is obvious that this estate makes top quality wines that with pride celebrates the greatness of Barolo, “the wine of kings”, whose unique territorial expression is best conveyed by its delicate, noble grape nebbiolo.

We will certainly be back.

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Andreas, Roberto and Frederik