2016 Visit to Piemonte

Andrew, Thierry and I recently had a week in Piemonte. As time allows, I’ll post notes and photos here …

We started in Turin …


Tre Galli has a superb wine list at over 56 pages … We thought a 1993 Gaja Sperss might be more approachable than a 1999 or 1996 so we asked to have that opened before we got there. We had the 2004 Brovia Villero popped and poured. Tre Galli on a Saturday night was lively, the traditional Piemontese cuisine excellent and the wines a great accompaniment …

  • 2004 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Popped and poured. Nice aromatics that developed over the three or so hours open (decant at least five hours ahead). Little secondary nuances with lots of dark cherry and other dark fruits. A little melted road tar. More violets than rose perfume. Pure and clean on palate, with the structure and fine grained tannins coming through on the end. Austerity on the mid palate, reflecting the vintage. Nothing sweet fruited here, lots of dry tannin. The wine matched well the fishy tang of my Piemontese raw beef and anchovies. Good but a little outclassed and ‘one note’ next to the Gaja. Give this wine 5-10 more years, minimum.
  • 1993 Gaja Barolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Decanted three hours before we began tasting (it could have used more). A detailed, complex nose, initially tartufi neri and other fungi, forest floor and wet tobacco leaf. Evolving and improving over the night, moving more scented and floral. The palate did not move during the evening, seeming younger than the bouquet or the vintage suggested. Beautiful, silky tannins, totally in tune with the acids. Very intense and complex. A lot of dark cherry and other black fruit, hoisin, balsamico and creosote. On the mid palate the scale and structure hits you … This is a big, serious wine. It paired very well with my sirloin and ash extra virgin olive oil dish, and then with the most mature cheeses. Perhaps not quite up there with the very best Sperss vintages I’ve had, but a damn fine Barolo. Seemingly now in its optimal drinking window.

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The Tre Galli wine list: http://3galli.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Carta-dei-Vini.pdf



A long lunch with Jeffrey Chilcott of Marchesi di Grésy and other Piemontese wine friends. Also, South African winemaker Alan was in attendance.

Below I’ve only typed up the Piemontese wines we tasted …

All wines served blind unless indicated …

  • 1999 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba
    Served blind by Lorenzo. A beautiful tarry nose of black cherries, underbrush and smoke with a touch of violets. A lovely earthy, brushwood palate with lots of black cherries and blackberries. Savoury and mature with sandy, suave tannins. Lovely sparkling acidity. I thought this wine was a Vietti Scarrone from the early or mid 1990s, not as young as 1999. Drink soonish, I’d think.
  • 2011 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga Gaiun - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Served non-blind by Jeffrey. Plenty of ripe, 2011 fruit on the bouquet, with a little floral lift. Black fruited with Asian spice. More dark fruit, particularly cherries, on palate, with gentle 2011 structure. Inky and full bodied. Also lower acidity with oak yet to fully integrate. There is oak here but there’s plenty of dry extract to match. Serious structure and well balanced. A good Gaiun, that’ll need 5+ years to settle down.
  • 1999 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Served blind. Evolved colour, a little brown. An intoxicating perfume, tartufi neri and dark roses. In the mouth, showing nice evolution with flavours of dried quince, preserved plums, red cherries and other red fruit. Spherical tannins, seamless structure and good length. I guessed the wine as a '98. In the zone now.
  • 2011 Giulia Negri Barolo La Tartufaia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Giulia served her wine open. Grapes from the Brunate site 70% of the blend. Aromas of lifted red berries, menthol and cherries, with a little spice. Full in the mouth, again showing '11 vintage ripeness and opulence. Fine grained tannins. An attractive young Barolo.
  • 1998 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Rocche dei Brovia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Our wine (served blind) seemed more evolved than would be expected from a 1998. People had the vintage between 1985 and 1989. Browning colour. Dried red fruit, tobacco leaf, dried red fruits and brushwood on the bouquet. A fig or date component on the nose. A mellow, autumnal wine, which I found poignant. Others however didn’t like it, thinking it lacked sufficient primary fruit. “Very alive in the mouth” said Jeffrey. Multi-layered, flavours including dried Porcini, old leather, dry, dusty soil and preserved plums. I enjoyed the wine but thought it too advanced for a 1998 (perhaps it was a bottle issue?).
  • 2003 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A gorgeous wine served blind by Jeffrey. An attractive, savoury nose of dried mushroom, truffle, tobacco and red fruit, again suggesting a little evolution. On palate, seamless, smooth, succulent fruit, merging with savoury, umami elements. Well balanced. Some saw some fruit sweetness here not typical of a Barolo and wondered if the wine might be a pinot noir. I thought that this was a traditionally made Barolo, perhaps from 1998. A lovely wine with all of the elements in place … On the reveal, 2003 was a surprise … Jeffrey said “2003 is the email you didn’t respond to …”. An excellent Monprivato.
  • 1982 Gigi Rosso Barolo Arione - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Our wine served blind was thought to be a '70s or even '60s Barolo by the tasters. Forest floor, truffle and earthy aromas, but also burnt toffee. Also a little sherry, or as someone corrected, old rum. Some fruit on the mid palate but a bit sherried on the finish. Autumn leaves, sous bois and bracken flavours dominating the fruit. Parched desert dry, nothing volatile here. A well made wine, “from a good vintage”, said Jeffrey. To me, however, the least impressive and enjoyable of our three old wines.
  • 1998 Marziano Abbona Barbaresco Faset - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    On bouquet, Black Doris plums and black cherries, tar and dark soil, showing some development. On palate, very good dryness and serious structure. A lot of cacao, dark berry fruit and earth. Some iron at its core. I was convinced it was a Barolo, guessing it a 1997. With that size and architecture, there was elegance, suave tannins and good length. No hurry to drink this very good Barbaresco.
  • 1974 Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Our Cavallotto had a pale, evolved colour. A tertiary nose of old leaves on the ground, fungus, old leather couch and dried Porcini, with a whiff of sherry. Too old for many of our Italian friends to enjoy, but I did, preferring it to the younger seeming Gigi Rosso. In the mouth, dried fruit, tobacco leaf and earth, showing oxidation. I thought that the fruit was alive on the palate. Jeffrey picked the vintage as “1971 or 1974”, thinking the wine a product of a good, ripe vintage.

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“Today is the first full day of summer” said Aldo. Certainly the sky was a deep blue very different from the misty light blue of the more typical Piermontese summer day.

After a quick visit to Scazello, Barolo we began our (mainly) Barbaresco Monday with lunch with Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco and Renato Vacca of Cantina del Pino. Renato had brought along a box of his wines for us to drink with lunch.

I like the Trattoria, just below the tower and right opposite the Produttori entrance, very much. It’s a nice humble Trattoria, making typical local dishes, like the lovely veal tajarin and roasted rabbit we enjoyed …

Renato’s wines are all about restraint and elegance and letting the terroir shine through. He tries to retain freshness in his wines, typically using larger barrels. On average, his wines see about 20% new oak for 12 months, he said.

  • 2014 Cantina del Pino Barbera d’Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba
    A rare Barbera from Ovello vines, that saw a 20 day maceration. Bright, dark cherries and blackberries on the nose, with a little spice. In the mouth, not a pungent Barbera. Pure, clean and vertical showing some fruit sweetness. Quite fine and elegant, reflecting the house style. Also, reflecting the 2014 vintage, a cooler fruit spectrum with good minerality. I liked this Barbera quite a lot … Hold for a couple of years and drink in the next 10, I’d say.
  • 2012 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Again mainly Ovello fruit (some from 70 year old vines). A spicy bouquet of raspberries, red cherries and red currants. Also red fruited on palate, showing red cherries, cranberry and even strawberries. Attractive, fresh, racy acids. Again a very elegant wine, almost delicate. As Aldo said, this Barbaresco reflected the 2012 vintage character.
  • 2012 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Albesani - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Another 2012 Barbaresco, but very different aromas of bracken, earth, spices and red roses. On palate, structurally, a very different wine. Quite closed. Earthy and spicy with underbrush and tobacco leaf notes. There’s plenty or weight and tannins on the back palate. This wine needs cellar time, it was improved by food. In fact, in the glass, it got tighter and tighter. Give this wine 3-5 years.
  • 2011 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Renato’s flagship cuvée had the best bouquet so far. A complex nose, with lifted, floral elements, very 2011 Barbaresco. Musk, red berries and dry earth with traces of mineral. On palate, a much richer, riper wine, with succulent plums, raspberries and other red fruit and that alcohol lift (on the label 14.5%, but it may be higher). However, well balanced and quite bright. Earthy with good volume and length. Slatey minerals on the finish. I’d cellar for 5+ years, ideally 10+. Very good.
  • 2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We were discussing and comparing various Produttori vintages with Aldo (see later) and got onto 2007 and comparisons with 2009 … Aldo went back to the winery and came back with this wine … A nose of dry brushwood, dry soil and dark cherries, showing some dried leaf evolution. Serious structure on palate but showing the warmer 2007 vintage. Fleshy and powerful with quite fine grained tannins but some tannic grip on the back. “The palate is very fresh” said Renato. “You can feel the alcohol and it has nice drinkability,” noted Aldo “but it can probably age”. “There were good, ripe tannins in 2007” concluded Aldo. There was less progression on palate than on the nose. Ideally I’d give the wine 2-3 more years, but probably drink it in the next 10 years.

We headed over to Produttori for a tank tasting …
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Over the lunch and during our tasting we had talked about the Riserva vintages for Produttori.

Aldo had talked about 2016 so far for Produttori, saying there had been heavy rains in June and some hail recently. He said that the season was late starting and that there was uneven shoot growth (this was 20 June), but that the season was now catching up. As always, of course, he said that 15 August to 15 October 2016 will be the key dates …

Aldo talked about his Riserva vintages:

2007-2011: He said that the 2007s were similar to the 2009s, being more accessible, earlier drinking wines than the more backward, structured 2008 Crus. He said 2009 was in some ways similar to 2011, but that the 2011s had extra fruit and were more lifted than the more austere 2009s. Personally, in terms of quality, I’d rate the recent Produttori Riserva vintages in this order: 2008, 2007, 2011 and 2009 (not that there’s anything wrong with 2009s, as a more forward vintage …).

2012: Riservas were not made because the “Crus did not have sufficiently intense, distinct personalities (they were too similar), so we just made the Normale”. Aldo repeated what he has told me previously: “Our limit on the Crus is keeping the basic wine okay. I could double the Crus in volume but the Normale would suffer too much”. In vintages when Riservas are made, SV grapes do still make up half of the Normale. Aldo will not make Crus in a vintage like 2010 to protect the quality of the Normale, which is Produttori’s key wine.

2013: Riservas will be released between October 2016 and January 2017. The 2013 Crus are very good, in my opinion, based on two sets of barrel tastings, probably better than the 2011s. Aldo described the 2013 Riservas as (very approximately) a cross between the 2004s and 2005s (which sounds pretty good to me!).

2014: Riservas will be released in January 2019. Aldo was at pains to distinguish 2014 Barbareschi from Baroli, saying that Barbaresco produced many good wines in 2014 (“Just as good as 2013” said Aldo). From the Muncagota and Rabajà we tasted, and the 2014s we tasted at Bruno Rocca, I’d believe that …

2015: Riservas will be made. Aldo described the SVs as being more like 2011s in character, than 2013s or 2014s.

Bottle tasting

  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    This wine had been less than three months in bottle. Aldo described 2013 as “Just as good in Barbaresco as in Barolo”. He noted that the grapes had ripened well by the end of the season and characterised the vintage as having great aromatics. Stick your nose in this and you’ll agree: an attractive bouquet of meadow flowers, spices, raspberries, red cherries and other red fruited aromas. On palate, I preferred the 2013 to the recent 2012 Normale I drank … It has glossy, bright, succulent red fruit, but they have retained good freshness and acidity. It’s well balanced without the extra alcohol you might find in a 2011. “A classic vintage” said Aldo.
  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    At a recent 2011 Riserva horizontal I said we’d been surprised and disappointed by the Montefico, but wondered if it had totally shut down or was just a bad bottle. Aldo opened a bottle that showed that our previous bottle was indeed bad in some way … On bouquet, dark florals and black fruit with that telltale Montefico minerals and chalk. In the mouth, it is a little closed. Aldo agreed: “Very intense, less open than some, very vertical”. Fresher and more lively than the most recent bottle. A little tight, but precise and persistent. Some apparent sweetness to the tannins (“I love the bright 2011 tannins” said Aldo). Good length. Excellent! Give it 3+ years.

Barrel tasting

  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A nose of cacao and dark chocolate, perfumed and earthy. On palate, instantly not an '11, without that fruit sweetness. Very dark fruited and chocolatey with soil and underbrush and big, grippy tannins on the back.
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pajé - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Like the Ovello, Aldo noted that in his view this Cru is being improved by global warming … On bouquet, red berries and red rose perfume. On entry to the palate, very pure, clean and precise with pine needles, raspberries, red cherries and other red fruit. Again, the prominent tannins exert their influence across the mid and back palate.
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A darker fruit spectrum on the nose, showing lots of spice and some dried herbs and earth. A more imposing, fuller wine on the palate, darker fruited with that earthiness. Less elegant than the Pajé, powerful, dense and chewy. A serious, structured wine with a real tannic grip. Very long. Potentially very good.
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Here’s a comparison! A gorgeous, bright and expressive bouquet of black cherries and other dark fruit, dark florals and spices. On palate, slinky, sexy with very fine grained tannins. Satin texture. Packed with black cherry and black berry fruit. Bright and energetic, with excellent acidity. Well balanced and long. At its core, pure, closed and austere. Potentially excellent.
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Complex and expressive aromatics. Dark cherries, black liquorice, graphite and rocky minerals on bouquet. Detailed and complex on palate with black fruit, truffle, dark soil, carbon, liquorice and chalky minerals. Again, poised and balanced, with good acids and fine, spherical tannins. Linear and long. Again, potentially excellent.
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Asili - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Harder to get an idea from a brief taste here. More subdued aromatics. On palate too, seeming a more subtle wine. Elegant and refined. Very closed and tight. Seemingly well balanced and proportioned, in terms of tannins and acids. The impression of plenty of power held in reserve.
  • 2014 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We jumped across to taste a 2014 with Aldo making the point that in his view 2014 is just as good as 2013 in Barbaresco (“with more of a floral character”). Here however the bouquet and palate were pretty closed showing red fruit, savoury and forest floor elements, with earth and a little espresso. Slightly medicinal but with good volume and acids. Hard to draw any conclusion from this taste …
  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Back to a 2013 botti, a more giving, expressive bouquet of apparently sweeter redcurrants, raspberries, red plums and flowers. Also expressive, rich and floral on palate. Not overly sweet, but certainly generous and open, red fruited. Rounded and medium weight. The puckering tannins on exit were a real surprise! Better than the 2011 Rio Sordo, I thought.
  • 2014 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    And perhaps the wine of the tasting (competing with the 2013 Rabajà) to finish! Seeming an even more expressive bouquet of dark cherries and berries, black spices and dark florals than the 2013. Silky black cherries, blackberries and espresso. Also a savoury, forest floor character Aldo described as typical '14 in Barbaresco. All the elements you need here, a potentially superb wine. Aldo compared the wine with the 2004 Rabajà.

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Renato Vacca’s family has been growing grapes in Barbaresco since at least the 1920s. Renato’s great grandfather first acquired land in Ovello (the vines are now over 70 years old). The family bought land in Albesani 20 years ago. Renato left Produttori and started his own label in 1997.

We began the visit by Renato showing us his Ovello vines. I have previously found Cantina’s Ovello quite different to Produttori’s. Produttori’s Ovello is often meatier, earthier and more full bodied than the more ethereal or elegant Cantina wine. Renato said “Ovello is not south facing in total. It’s also north-east and west, as well as south”. Produttori’s vines are 220-290 m, west to south-west exposures on mainly clay, while Cantina’s are at 300 metres, south to south-east facing, on limestone and sandy soil. The SV Ovello wine comes from a special plot of those 70 year old vines near Montefico and to me (on reflection) his Ovello is actually quite Montefico-like.

Renato also pointed out his Albesani vines, which typically produce a rounder, richer wine, and from where the Giacosa Santo Stefano Barbareschi used to come.

Renato tries to use most of the 14 Nebbiolo clones but does not use selection massale, sourcing his replacement vines from the nursery.

Renato described 2013 and 2014 for him as good, cooler, more classical vintages than 2015, which he said was more like 2011, just a little fresher.

Barrel tasting

  • 2015 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Albesani - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Renato lost 50% of his crop due to sunburn. A nose of earth, forest floor and dark fruit. On palate, fully ripe and quite opulent. With a solid earthy, iron core. Quite structured but not heavily extracted or oxidative (as is the house style, gently handled). Quite elegant and long.
  • 2015 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We tasted from the three barrels the components of the Barbaresco Normale. The three elements showed their different terroirs well. The Starderi had a deep colour with dark fruit on the nose and palate. Muscular, fresh with menthol and mint. The Gallina was a little reduced and also dark fruited but lighter. The Ovello element was even more reductive, showing dark fruit and greater elegance. However, there was additional power here, with gruntier tannins on the mid and back palate. It’ll be interesting to see these three elements come together in the finished wine. I would expect it to be powerful and ripe, but not without finesse.
  • 2015 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    The 2015 SV Ovello was quite different. Renato noted the lighter colour from the more directly south facing vineyard. Beautifully aromatic with bright red fruit and a hint of chalk. In the mouth, a step above the other '15s. Fine with red cherries, red currants, raspberries and chalky minerals. Definitely fully ripe, but not seemingly overripe.
  • 2014 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We sampled from the Gallina barrel only. Nice, floral perfume with red cherries. Noticeably more vibrant, nervous and fresh than the '15s. Fine red fruits and spices with mineral notes. Less mid palate weight than the '15s but sufficient structure and good length.
  • 2014 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Albesani - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A substantial earthy bouquet of brush wood, sottobosco and red currants. More aromatic than the '15. Red fruit, dark chocolate and earth on palate, but quite elegant. Smaller scaled, fresher, dryer and more austere than the '15.
  • 2014 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Bright red cherries, raspberries and florals on the nose. I really liked this wine. Red fruited, linear and fine. Mineral. Classical, well balanced with lovely acidity. I preferred this wine over the riper, fuller 2015.

Two bottles to finish

  • 2013 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A darker colour than the '12. Also more perfumed. High toned with lavender, raspberries and red cherries. My favourite of the Ovellos tasted. Well proportioned and complex. Red berried with earth and cured meats. Good balance between the acids, structure and fruit weight. Serious tannins and lots of power.
  • 2012 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A finer nose of chalk, raspberries and other red fruit. Precise, focussed and linear with racy acids and soft tannins. Seemingly lighter fruit weight. Red berried and mineral. At the moment a little steely, austere and closed, needing time.

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I didn’t know much about Bruno Rocca wines before this visit. But I walked away from this visit very impressed …

Bruno Rocca’s winery is perched above the Grand Cru sites of Barbaresco. We went to the winery balcony to look down on the vineyards of Rabajà, Marchesi di Grésy’s Martinenga monopole (in the dip) and Asili. On the top of the next hill we could make out Faset.

We then jumped in Francesco’s 4WD Fiat Panda and drove to and then up and down the Currà vineyard, where Francesco lives. Francesco is very passionate about organics and caring for the vineyards. The vines in Currà average about 15 years of age.

In the winery, Francesco said that they are moving less modern, with longer macerations (22-27 days on the skins), gentle handling (limited pumping over, no rotofermenters) and less oak. Their gravity fed winery was built in 2009. Only indigenous yeasts are used, they did a major study with a University to isolate the best yeasts in the winery.

Francesco agreed with my thought that, generally, 2014 was a better vintage in Barbaresco than 2015.

Francesco was keen to show us his Currà and Rabajà wines in particular. Some of these he described as Riservas although I am not certain that they will reach the market labelled that way.

We began with a barrel tasting …

Barrel tasting

  • 2014 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A floral, precise, dark fruited bouquet. Fresh and vibrant on the entry, nice acidity. Plenty of fruit, with some richness and plumpness. As well as black fruit, cedar and sottobosco flavours, there are fine tannins and some austerity on the finish. Francesco said that for the Normale “elegance is more important than power - a wine to enjoy”.
  • 2014 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    The non-Riserva had one year in barrique, one in large format cask. A step up from the Normale. A luxuriant nose of spices, red cherries, liquorice and raspberries. On palate, richer, more layered and complex than the Normale. Sappy with good 2014 acids. Silky texture and spherical tannins. A salty, mineral component, I found quite attractive. Structure on the back, this wine will need time. Very good.
  • 2014 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Riserva Currá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Better again and deserving of its Riserva status. A perfumed bouquet of violets and lavender, blackberries and other mainly dark fruit. Very fine, clean and succulent in the mouth. Intense but seamless, the serious structure only hits after the first impression. Very pure and long. Impressive!
  • 2014 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    My WoTD (before the wines at dinner). Once past some initial reduction on the nose, then an even more exquisite, powerful, darker perfume than for the last Riserva. This, in my view, is Grand Cru Barbaresco. Linear, focused, powerful and long. After some fruit sweetness on the entry, the limestone soil influence makes itself felt in fineness, finesse and class. Harmonious, with lovely, sparkling acids. Stony minerals and austere at its core. Detailed and nuanced, multi-layered.
  • 2015 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A contrast here, very much vintage influenced. On both bouquet and palate, a bigger, richer, riper expression than the '14 Rabajà Riserva. A large volume of dense, opulent dark fruit with tons of power and less evident acidity. Still, there is a mineral and chalky complexity, mixed dark spices and touches of cassis. Another excellent wine, it depends on your palate preference (preferred over the '14 Riserva by Andrew, in our group).
  • 2015 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Riserva Currá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    On this barrel tasting, I rated the 2015 Riserva Currà slightly above the 2015 Riserva Rabajà. Reduction on the bouquet but a more aromatic sample, with lifted florals. Again, very silky on palate, but with serious tannic structure below the surface. Elegant, poised and ethereal. “Feminine” said Francesco. Good length. On this potential, a very good wine, competing with the 2015 Rabajà Riserva.

Bottle tasting
All wines popped and poured.

  • 2015 Bruno Rocca Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Trifolé - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba
    From Rabajà fruit. Bright colour. Black cherry and black liquorice aromatics, with lifted florals. Lots of fresh dark berry fruit, with the expected 2015 power. However, for a Dolcetto, unexpected elegance. The fruit and acids are in good balance. “The wine calls for salami” said Francesco. To drink from now.
  • 2013 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    The non-Riserva. To be released in September 2016. Lovely floral and spicy aromatics. Elegance up front on the palate, power and energy on the back. Less acidity evident than in the 2014, but still very good and well balanced. Satiny and light on its feet. Real length. Give it 3+ years in the cellar.
  • 2012 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Riserva Currá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Served to us blind. A more savoury, earthy, spicy nose with some sottobosco and rocky minerals. Pinot noir-like elegance, red fruited. A delicate wine suggesting both Currà and the 2012 vintage. Absolutely no edges, suave tannins. Still, a little closed and austere. You could criticise its fruit weight but I wouldn’t be inclined to … Give it 2-3 years in the cellar.
  • 2013 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Riserva Currá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Again, served blind. I did not pick this wine as a Currà. A darker colour than the 2012. Also a darker nose indicating more muscle and structure. Showing a phenolic lift and more dark spices. In the mouth, that structure and power come through. Also it’s fairly closed, with fine grained but serious, grippy tannins. I was initially thinking 2011, but it couldn’t have been that year, with this acidic spine. Returning to re-taste a little later it had opened a little, with some Currà elegance, but there was still plenty of tight iron clad structure. A lot of dry extract to this wine and it’ll need 5-7 years cellar time, I’d imagine.
  • 2013 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Served blind. Compact aromatics (but Francesco said later it had only been bottled 10 days earlier), but with some nice spices and some dark fruited opulence emerging. On palate, Rabajà markers. Initially almost sweet, fine dark fruit, quite silky. Then more dense on the mid palate with savoury nuances and lots of power. Again it’s quite steely and closed, with a serious tannic architecture, albeit suave and ultra fine grained tannins. I slightly preferred the acids of the 2014 over the 2013, but this is an excellent Rabajà. I’d give it 5+ years in the cellar.

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Beautiful write and photos. Don’t stop - keep going.

You’re welcome Sanjay … Slow upload speeds on the photos here …



An excellent meal at Bovio accompanied by two lovely, aged Baroli from their very good list.

  • 1989 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Earthy brown colour. An autumnal, detailed bouquet of dried leaves, clay, tartufi neri, dried porcini, preserved red fruits with flecks of raisin. Not at all sherried on bouquet or in the mouth. On palate, poignant and ethereal with wholly secondary and tertiary notes. Mellowed and savoury, any fruit sweetness now gone. The tannins are now fully resolved and softened. The fruit however is still very much alive with good concentration and volume. Beautifully balanced with lovely acidity. Complex and nuanced showing forest floor, earth, porcini, old red fruits, balsamico and cigar. Paired well with my duck and black truffle cannelloni and the sweeter cheeses. A wine to drink soon though.
  • 1991 Gaja Barolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A deeper red colour. A bouquet that became more expressive with time, showing black cherries, black plums, Asian spices, hoisin and creosote, with hints of dark rose as it opened up. Nothing tertiary on the palate, barely secondary in fact. A very impressive and enjoyable Barolo nonetheless. Serious depth, structure, power and concentration. An austere, iron core, more in the red fruit spectrum, the wine built around its superb, sparkling acidity. The tannins are there but they are very fine, sleek and seamless, not at all obtrusive. Clearly the superior of the two wines, this 1991 better than the very good 1993 Sperss from two evenings ago. The Sperss was a superb food match with my veal, balsamic and grana cheese dish. The Sperss is in its optimal drinking window now but no hurry is needed.

Posted from CellarTracker

The Bovio wine list: http://www.ristorantebovio.it/cgi-bin/vini/carta%20dei%20vini.pdf

Next up: Giuseppe Mascarello.

Howard, simply exellent posts, thanks a lot

Thank you for sharing. Excellent notes.

Great reports, Howard!!!