Thursday, May 31, 2012
The style across the board is a bit more soft and fruited than one might expect from some of the other notable winery names in Verduno. I know from experience that the wines offer strong relative value back in the New York market, and I was happy to try them in situ.
|House on a hill: the Aldo Conterno winery.|
A friend remarked to me recently that an era has passed in Barolo. When you think of the esteemed names in the area, it is their children who make their wine now. Aldo was himself once young, and it was then that he set new goals unheard of in the area at the time.
Aldo Conterno acheived incredible heights from his perch in Bussia. I expect that he is now in a place of even higher elevation.
"People think we are very lazy," say Luca "because there is so much grass everywhere. But actually we are not lazy. Actually we care very much about the grass that we have."
I'll be honest that I wasn't expecting to see so much that was so high. I mean, the grass is waist high on a man of modest height. You could lose a small child in between the rows. Or two small children. I had visited a year ago the Roagna winery in Barolo, which is still under construction, but I had somehow failed to notice just how green the Pira vineyard was, even in the pictures I took from a distance. When you walk a Roagna vineyard it becomes oh so very clear just how much vegetation is around. I wouldn't recommend wing tips.
The commitment to eschewing chemical weed killers is total at Roagna. And there is a stark contrast between Roagna vineyards and the surrounding vineyards owned by other wineries.
This is Paje from a distance. The large green part belongs to Roagna. The vineyard parcel used for Crichet Paje (also green) is closer to the house.
Maybe I'm going on a bit much about the amount of grass in the Roagna vineyards, but I think it really sums up what they are about when it comes to viticulture. That and the old massale selection vines.
And that's the story of Roagna, really, at least before the grapes reach the winery. Old vines that are a tremendous example of the how the viticulture we know is really a gift from the past, and a family that has refused to play by the chemical rules for three generations. The roots really have run deep.
Luckily for us, Luca has his own rule: he will open bottles as close to his own age as possible, and several of them. And Luca isn't so young.
This was the trip where I finally understood a wine that had long puzzled me: the Roagna Crichet Paje. This is the selection that sees over 80 days of maceration with the submerged cap of skins and the wine that sees 8 years of ageing in cask before bottling. After several examples with significant bottle age tasted at the winery I realized that this wine just needs a patient amount of time to release its grip and show you the breadth of its palm. The Roagna family has given the vines the long amount of time that they need. Would that we would do the same for the bottles.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I feel the same inside the cantina where Bartolo Mascarello once drew out labels by hand. Time had been friendly to lead me back there. My first visit was last year and I immediately had wanted to come back. It took almost a year, but there I was, thanks be. And lucky for it.
And maybe one or two changes.
The vine still grew long and thick on the terrace.
The Panda still sat in the driveway.
Here's what we had: Dolcetto 2010, Barbera 2009, Freisa 2009, and Barolo 2007 and 2008. There was no Nebbiolo della Langhe for us on this visit because the last batch had been late in going through malo and so is not bottled yet.
But the one you want to be checking out is the 2007 Barolo from Bartolo, at least while you wait for your 2008s to come around. I cannot imagine someone doing better with the raw materials of 2007. I mean showing all of the 2007 fruit loopiness in the very best light. Here, in this cellar, 2007's Toucan Sam is a Swan. Really beautiful, noble, and pristine. I really, really liked that 2007.
I'm glad I could see them all again.