One bottle in particular caught my attention, because it was the first release from Altare of a wine from the Bricco Cerretta vineyard, a Barolo from 2005. This is the same vineyard in Serralunga that Schiavenza also bottles a Barolo from. In the case of Altare's parcel, the vines are fairly young, around 10 years old. The Serralunga location is also new for Altare, as they are mostly associated with La Morra. So this was fun to see how a different commune would be interpreted by the family so closely associated with modern technique Barolo. And indeed this wine saw what could be described as a modern upbringing, with a short maceration of about five days in rotary fermenters, followed by 24 months in French oak barrique. In my opinion the raw materials are in a way complementary to that treatment. Cerretta for me tends towards a fruit laden power, a kind of fruit cake density. And as with a lot of Serralunga fruit, you can often almost taste the heat of the sun in the finished wine. So all of that makes sense to me, in terms of what you might be looking for if you were making wine in the fashion that Altare does. Must have made sense to the Altare family as well, and thus their purchase of the parcel.
I actually must admit that 2005 was a vintage that sort of turned my head back around towards Altare when the La Morra crus were released a few years ago (I am not sure why the Bricco Cerretta was held back and released late, as it isn't labelled as a Riserva). I thought I detected a lighter touch in the Barolos of Altare in 2005, something a bit more airy than in the vintages that preceded it. At first I wondered if this was owing to the vintage being something light, but 2006, which was in many hands a powerful vintage, seemed to continue the lighter trend at Altare. And I'll admit that I have really liked some wines from Altare in the past. The 1996 Brunate, in particular, stands out in my mind as a smashing success from the producer. I first visited Altare in 2004, and I'll be honest, I've always felt that something important was going on there, even if it wasn't necessarily always my thing. At any rate, this 2005 Bricco Cerretta seemed (begin air quotes) heavier (end air quotes) than those La Morra Barolos from Altare in the same year, but that may well be a function of the fruit source. I'll be curious to follow the wine in future vintages.