The 2003 vintage was difficult throughout Europe. Scorching hot weather meant at best early drinking wines without much distinction or elegance and at worst harsh tannic ones (or cooked – depending on the producer or district) that didn’t pack the fruit to back the tannins up.
Arguably some producers did make a better job than others and I therefore find it interesting to see how the 2003s are coming a long nine years on. I can’t say that I see many 2003s these days but I do got one or two bottles left in my possession. One of those is Gianni Voerzios lovely Barolo La Serra.
Gianni is the less famous of the two brothers Voerzio (the other one is Roberto who’s wines got a cult following and play in a completely different price-league). Gianni Voerzios Barolo La Serra must be one of the best bargains in whole of Piedmont. In Sweden his single vineyard wines usually sells for what you pay for generic Barolos from big companies like Fontanafredda (that is for less than €30).
I know that some wine tasters (at least here in Sweden) think that his wines are a bit heavy on the oak. I’m usually not a big fan of new wood but I must confess that I have never found La Serra to be particularly over oaked in any way.
So how is the Barolo La Serra 2003 coming along? Real fine if you ask me! This is still quite a tannic wine that needs some time in a decanter to soften up the hard edges. But the fruit is luckily still there. On the nose it got all the tell tale signs of nebbiolo with cherries, roses, cocoa powder, maybe a whiff of tar and tobacco. In the mouth it is medium bodied and mixes fresh and dried cherry flavors with chocolate/cocoa powder and tobacco. And, of course, it got that mouth drying aftertaste that is quintessential barolo.
I think I might leave my other 2003 nebbiolos to rest for a couple of more years!
(Last year I opened a La Serra 2000 – you can read about that wine here!)
The battle between modernists and traditionalists in Piemonte was maybe at it’s peek some 10-15 years ago. It concerned things like shorter maceration-periods, new oak vs. old slavonian casks and no or total de-stemming.
Today we find wines that show the trademark of both modernists and traditionalists as well as all kind of mixes between the two of them – but most wines of the new millenium have one thing in common: they are made with riper fruit and in a more fruity approachable style that doesn’t need decades in bottle before you open them. And the best thing is that the longevity of the wines does not seem to have been compromised.
The Rivetti family of La Spinetta was one of those who was leading the revolution and showing that you can make approachable nebbiolo that still got an impressive (or almost awesome) backbone of tannins and acidity. They started back in the 1970s and they did it with Moscato d’Asti – Piemontes underappreciated sweet light sparkling wine – the closest you get to pure grapejuice when it comes to wine.
But already from the start the Rivettis had there sights set on making great red wine. Braida and Giacomo Bologna had shown what could be done with the barbera grape with their now legendary Bricco dell’Ucellone (1982) and in 1985 the Barbera d’Alba Ca’ di Pian was created at La Spinettas winery in Castagnole Lanze 1985. It is now La Spinettas entry-level wine – but there is nothing simple about it and it offers great value for your money.
Pin was next – a groundbreaking blend of nebbiolo and barbera (1989). Six years later came the first Barbaresco Cru Vigneto Gallina (and also the first wine to get the now famous rhino on the label). Barbaresco Vigneto Starderi and Barbera d’Alba Gallina followed 1996. IN 1997 came Barbaresco Vigneto Valeriano, 1998 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Bionzo and 2000 La Spinetta bought their first vineyard in Barolo – Campè. And since then the producer has also acquired 65 hectar of land in Tuscany.
What makes La Spinetta modernists is the Rivettis firm belief in new french oak for all their prestige wines. They also use rather short maceration-periods (7-8 days) and so called rotofermenters – rotating vessels for the fermentation and color extraction of their wines. This may make the Spinetta wines a bit more juicy and fruity than those from many other great producers of Barbaresco, Barbera and Barolo. But as I said above – these are serious wines that you can cellar for decades if you like.
So what’s up next? Earlier this years La Spinetta bought the historic sparkling wine producer Contratto in Canelli – and the results so far is stunning. But more on Contratto later here in Uncorked.
In the top photo: The wonderful Manuela Rivetti of La Spinetta. You can see the vineyards for Ca’ di Pian on the hills in the background.
At last is the clip from our visit at La Spinetta in Castagnole Lanze is ready. We were welcomed by the lovely Manuela Rivetti and got good tour of the winery and tasted some fantastic wines!
I have always admired Paolo and Enrico Scavinos Barolos ever since I first tasted them back in the 90s. Boldly modern in making and style but with such depth and gôut de terroir that even the hardest tradtionalists couldn’t argue. And they age beautifully.
I remember buying a stunning Bric del’ Fiasc (probably a 80s vintage – 88 or 89) when I was still a student and really couldn’t afford it. My wife was furious and called it a “bloody Fiasco” – and off course – she was right. The money should have gone to something more apropriate (say food, electricity or clothes) but the wine was anything but a fiasco (more of a success) when we opened it some yeras later.
Since then I have tasted Scavinos wines on quite a few occasions. And recently I got a chance to sample two of the producers wines again (due to be released in Sweden on June 1st). Barolo 2006 and the singe vineyard Cannubi 2006 – both 100 percent nebbiolo of course!.
Barolo 2006 (around €40)
Grapes are sourced from the three communes of Castiglione Falletto, Barolo and La Morra and the vineyards Vignolo (in Castiglione), Vignane & Via Nuova (in Barolo) and a small parcel och south-east exposed vines in La Morra. Maceration and ferementation takes place in temperature controlled steel rotary fermenters. Malolactic fermentation in oak and ageing in french barriques for 12 months. And finallay 12 months in larger french oak casks plus 1 year in bottle before beeing released.
Rather dark orange red colour. A bit closed on the nose – perfumed with fudge and hints of oak. Medium bodied tannic and concentrated taste of dried fruits, tobacco, leather and herbs. Lots of red berries (cherries) and massive tannins. Great lenght but painfully young! Drink in 3-8 years. 4/5 points.
Barolo Cannubi 2006 (around €76)
0,5 ha that was planted back in the 1940s. The grapes were handpicked in the beginning of october. Maceration and ferementation took place in temperature controlled steel rotary fermenters. Malolactic fermentation in oak and ageing in french barriques for 12 months. And finallay 12 months in larger french oak casks plus 1 year in bottle before beeing released.
Dark orange red colour. Lovely young complex nose with dark cherries, leather (chesterfield) and chocolate. Medium to full bodied and superconcentrated on the palate with red berries, tobacco, leather and spices/herbs. Hints of dark cherries, roses, chocolate and fudge. Massive tannins and a long long finish. Drink in 5-15 years. 5/5 points.