Italy’s finest co-operative, establishing admirable quality levels in both its blended Barbaresco and its designated-vineyard selections made in the traditional style.
Founded in 1958, this landmark co-operative has a sterling reputation for long-aging wines and exceptional value. The co-operative sources exclusively Nebbiolo grapes from an association of about 80 growers within the Barbaresco zone. Many of these grower families have worked the same land with the same fruit for generations. Aldo Vacca, the Director of the co-operative, has been a great friend to Oliveto for many years and played an essential role in the creation and development of the Wine In Time project.
Giovanni and Silvano Pasquero-Elia are the inheritors of a winemaking tradition going back seven generations. The estate, located entirely in Serraboella south and east of Neive, was purchased in 1796 and has been selling wine labeled Barbaresco since 1893. Excellent South- and Southwesterly exposure and natural, low-yield farming consistently has produced classic Piemontese wines. The Campolive is a distinct single vineyard located where the soils are the harder, mineral-rich “terra bianca”. It produces a denser style of Barbera that receives eighteen months of small barrel aging, half of which are new.
The Castello di Verduno, owned by Gabriella Burlotto and Franco Bianco, is a beautiful old building at the top of the village of Verduno, on the edge of the Barolo zone. Virtually unknown outside of Italy, Castello di Verduno produces a variety of Piedmontese wines in a classic style. The label unites two cellars, one under the castle in the Barolo zone and the other near the famous ‘cru’ Rabajà, in the Barbaresco area. Wines are produced in Barbaresco and bottled and stored in Verduno. The vineyards owned by Verduno are the Barbaresco crus, Faset and Rabajà, the last being one of the best vineyards in Barbaresco, and the Barolo crus Monvigliero and Massara. All wines are vinified traditionally by Mario Andrion, the talented young enologist who took over the cellar in 2000. The estate also produces a small amount of delicious Langhe Nebbiolo, and an excellent example of the variety indigenous to Verduno, Pelaverga.
The Azienda Agricola Fratelli Barale was founded in 1870 when Francesco Barale began producing Barolo and other wines typical of the Langhe region. Francesco owned vineyards in several local areas, including Castellero, Costa di Rose, Preda and Bussia in Monforte, as can be clearly seen on period maps. Sergio Barale, present owner and producer, carefully attends to every aspect of the cultivation of his 20 hectares of vineyards which are situated in some of the Langhe’s most historically important hills.
Barale’s wines remain traditionally produced and well-suited to extended aging, yet he is open to a few modern technical advances, if it ensures higher quality of wine. He refers to himself as “only a ‘contadino’ (farmer),” but is clearly well-educated about the intricacies of contemporary oenological debate. For example, Sergio favors longer fermentations in older wooden vats, yet the vats are outfitted with automatic timers and mechanical pumps because experimentation convinced him that they give him a better result. Ageing lasts three years and takes place in oak barrels hidden away deep in the cellars where the temperature is the same all year round. The result is a very long-lived wine with ample perfumes and extraordinary complexity of bouquet – a wine which reflects its terroir and the dedication of its producers.
A legend among piedmontese producers, Giuseppe Rinaldi has been producing Barolo wine for over a century. As traditional as it gets, “Beppe” Rinaldi still ferments all of his Baroli in the massive, 110 year old piedmontese oak vat that his great grandfather used. The wines are aged in large old oak for two years before bottling. Rinaldi still holds to the tradition of blending fruit from different vineyards to create a perfectly balanced, long aging wine.
Located just outside the Barolo town limits, on the road to Monforte, both the traditions and the modern developments of Barolo merge. One part of this partnership is represented by the winery’s current owner, Giuseppe Rinaldi, or, more simply, “Citrico,” as he is known to everyone, a veterinarian “lent” to viticulture and winemaking, a compelling raconteur and, according to all, one of the most original and clearest thinkers, not to mention liberal, in all of the Barolo Langa, and the other partner, even more compellingly, the one who preceded Giuseppe in the management of the cellar, his father, Battista Rinaldi.
It was in fact this singular person, whose moral uprightness and austerity became legendary, who turned this winery into one of the great labels of classic Barolo, moving to Barolo from Diano D’Alba at the age of 29, and taking over the winery in 1947 upon the death of his father, and acquiring, together with the Barale family, the ‘l Palas farmhouse from an overseer of the Falletti family.
Graduating with honours from the Scuola Enologica di Alba, Battista Rinaldi was the highly-regarded mayor of Barolo from 1970-1975, succeeding during his term of office in acquiring the Castello di Barolo as communal property, seat first of the town Enoteca, and later of the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo, of which he served as its first president, but he also had the good fortune, to inherit some hectares in particularly valuable terroirs such as Brunate, Le Coste, Ravera, and Cannubi San Lorenzo.
The grapes were vinified in different ways: the Brunate fruit was kept apart, and went into a special riserva that rested in the cellar in large bottles for ten years and was then put in standard bottles, while the other three lots, following one of the most hallowed Barolo traditions, were meticulously blended together.
Beppe Rinaldi joined his father in the winery, with notoriously different opinions than his father, as someday his eldest daughter Marta, after her oenology studies in Alba will join.
Since 1993 there are no longer a “standard” Barolo and a Brunate Riserva, but two different pairs of blends, all sourced from the same 4 estate vineyards: one cuvée of Brunate and Le Coste (10,000 bottles), the other, no less impressive, of Cannubi San Lorenzo and Ravera (from vineyards in Novello) of 3,500 bottles.
Vinification is classic and identical, with lengthy macerations on the skins and maturations in, of course, the large Slavonian oak botti dear to Barolo tradition and to the character of Barolo, since the possibility of using small barrels would never even have occurred to Beppe. These are not wines to be enjoyed in their youth: all of their personality traits, their tannic structure, their acidity and verve, their elegant aromatics, are designed for long cellaring.
The lineup of wines also includes Langhe Nebbiolo (100% nebbiolo obviously), Langhe Freisa, Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, and a vino da tavola called Rosae, produced from Rouché, a grape perhaps native to Burgundy, an area Beppe Rinaldi knows well and loves.
The Sella wine estates are one of the oldest active Italian wine producers. The Sella family has produced wine in Lessona from their own vineyards since mid 17th century, and has owned and cultivated vineyards in Bramaterra (at Villa del Bosco) for the same amount of time; the two estates were combined in 1881. The cellar of the estate still holds old vintages of these wines, including Lessona from 1904, and wine labelled as “Vino Lessona” that may be even older.
The Sella family produces eight wines, mainly reds produced of Nebbiolo. The five top wines are made from grapes grown in vineyards that are at least twenty-five to thirty years old. Some parcels, particularly (but not only) the Lessona vineyard called San Sebastiano allo Zoppo, are more than 80 years old. The grapes from young vines of Lessona and Bramaterra are combined to make the estate second wine: L´Orbello.
The high average age of these vineyards naturally tends to produce very low yields. An older vine is more difficult and more expensive to look after than a younger one, but the complexity that an old vine gives to the wine is, in our judgement, enormously greater than that of a younger vine, even if severely pruned.
In the old vineyards in northern Piedmont Nebbiolo is never planted by itself. It is always found with some rows of Vespolina, Croatina, or Uva Rara. For this reason, the Sella wines from Lessona and Bramaterra consist of a majority of Nebbiolo with a small percentage of these traditional local varieties.
Sella vinifies in a classical style. “Classical” doesen’t mean “old”. Although the technique of vinification and the technology used in the cellar are continually updated, authentic characteristics of the terroir and the vines are what is prized most and expressed by gentle extraction and aging in neutral wood. Today the estate still maintains its original artisanal scale, and is still devoted to a limited production of high-quality wine.