Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Visit to Marta Rinaldi and her dad Beppe


We were early for our visit to Giuseppe Rinaldi, so we walked the Le Coste vine rows. It was one of those days where the mud grabs your boots firmly by the edges and won't let go. It was easy to sink in.

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And it was also windy, the air finding every path possible through the trellising. 

Like most everyone we visited, the Rinaldis were waiting a bit longer to pick their Nebbiolo.

But you could see that it wouldn't be too much longer.

This nearby sign reminded us of how close we were to the commune's edge. Another of Rinaldi's vineyards, Ravera, is on a ridge so long that it is runs through all three of these place names: Barolo, Novello, and Monforte. G. Rinaldi's Ravera, in case your are curious, is where their Langhe Nebbiolo is sourced from. And their parcel is entirely within Barolo.

After awhile we made our way back over to the house and down the cellar steps.

This being Giuseppe Rinaldi, there was of course a lot to see down in the tasting room.











Like this old Chinato bottle.





Or "Nebiolo" from the turn of the 20th century.



Or "Nebiolo" from closer to our own time.





Of course the cellarman was there. This was the person who once pulled for me my first taste of G. Rinaldi Brunate from cask.

And there were some other people there with him, because everyone can use some help when there is a lot of Dolcetto to rack.







One of the other workers looked familiar.

And indeed it was Citrico, who came over to greet us for a bit.

But this was mostly a day with Marta, who really couldn't be a better combination of down to earth and charming. I really enjoy spending time listening to her. She is as frank about her own wines as other people's and she pays a lot of attention to wine without letting it be her whole life. She is also quick to smile, which is a quality I appreciate.

Marta, as the oldest daughter, has always from when she was little spent a lot of time helping her father in the cellar. Her younger sister, perhaps luckier, perhaps unlucky, has had the opportunity to get out of the fold a bit, and is currently working at a winery in Australia.

Happily, I benefited from quite a bit of tasting time with Marta on this trip, and she was generous with the samples. The Ruche and Dolcetto 2011s, both of which had been in the bottle for about 2 weeks, had seen the same winemaking: destemmed, 7 to 10 days on the skins, and then ageing in stainless for 1 year. The grapes for both had also been picked at about the same time. But on this day the Dolcetto was perfumed and more appealing than the Ruche, which needs a bit of bottle age to settle down into. Of course since the Giuseppe Rinaldi Ruche is always and continually one of the very best bottles of Ruche that you can find anywhere ever, I have no doubt that the 2011 will come around after a bit of time to rest.

The Barbera 2011, also perfumed, was especially delicious and perhaps a little more ready to go after 7 months of breathing through the barrel staves. Certainly it was already really good, if in a more quiet, 2011-way than some of the releases of the past.

The Freisa 2011, which Marta likes to serve after a few of the other wines "because it is tannic," was labelled up in the style Beppe had alluded to moving to when I spoke with him in 2011. It is a label in the same vein as their Langhe Nebbiolo.

The 2011 Freisa label is more in keeping with what the winery did in the more distant past.

And a departure from the more recent Freisa labels.

Of course this might not matter much to you, the reader, because as you know, the Freisa is not imported into the United Sates. Such labeling is of great concern to the Rinaldis, however, as they recently faced a significant fine from the authorities in regards to their Ruche label, and they are still embroiled in a fight to save the multiple vineyard Barolo labeling that defines their two signature products. As you will recall, the Consorzio wants to limit vineyards names on Barolo labels to the singular, but G. Rinaldi blends Barolo sites together in the plural. The debate continues, and Marta has been drafting a letter to the Consorzio in the winery's defense.

You may also remember that Mr. Boasso told me earlier this year that purchasers of grapes who do not own a parcel in the specific purchased cru will soon be prevented from producing labels stating the cru name. I asked Marta about this and she echoed what several other growers told me as well, which is that she believes that this is indeed the direction that the future regulations have indicated, although she does not know for sure because her family does not buy in grapes.

We also tasted a Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 from bottle... 

...and drumroll please!

Several Barolo samples from cask.

You might take what I say here for what it is, a rumination on what I tasted on one particular day, because the Barolos were just about to be racked. All the Barolos are racked twice a year at G. Rinaldi, and one of those times is right after harvest. So in other words, what I tasted is probably being racked right now, as you are reading this. Please try not to spill any!

The 2009 Brunate and 2009 Le Coste have yet to be blended together. The straight Brunate is very pretty and perfumed, in the way that G. Rinaldi seems to coax out of wines effortlessly, but some of the gras that you might expect from Brunate was missing. Partly that was probably 2009, and partly this is unfinished wine about to absorb a lot of air that we are talking about. I took a lot of wine board heat shortly after my last post on Rinaldi because I didn't talk much about the specific wines. Maybe reading this now those of you who lit the flame will perhaps understand why I am reticent to discuss wines that haven't been racked or wines that have only recently been bottled: because it is like grasping at straws as they are falling from the box.

The 2009 Le Coste from cask showed a lot of smoke and reduction on the nose, and in case I haven't made this point sufficiently already, it's about to be racked.

The 2009 Cannubi S. Lorenzo and Ravera lots were blended together after their respective fermentations and you know what? Let's talk about it more when the wine has had some time. I don't ask your newborn infants to take trigonometry exams and you don't get all whatever about not having an online note just yet. Deal? Ok, deal.


That all being said, I tasted the 2010 Cannubi S. Lorenzo-Ravera from cask and it was just SUPER FANTASTIC and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that you procure a bottle as soon as is possible. If you can. Which you can't right now. Because it's in cask. But just everything you could want already. The perfume. The elegance. The power. Just awesome. I could talk about it all day.

Which all just goes to show that when you are writing about a nonconformist you should feel free to break your own rules. I do.

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