Posts tagged ‘cavallotto’
For my final post of 2009, I want to salute some of the finest Italian producers of this decade. Each year in the Spring issue of my Guide to Italian Wines, I list the year’s best wines and producers. I’ll be working on that shortly, but for now, let’s focus on the most important producers of the decade. There is no way I can do this with a single post, so this is part one. I’m juding not only on the quality of the wines, but also the influence these producers had in the marketplace and media and among their peers.
If Luca Currado at Vietti only made Barolo, this winery would have made the list, but there are also gorgeous bottlings of Barbera, as well as a sleek, delicious offering of Arneis. The wines are beautifully made and sell through in good order.
This family-owned winery makes the list for maintaining its traditional winemaking methods, as the great Barolos are aged in botti grandi – no barriques here. Is there a more graceful and ageworthy Barolo than the Bricco Boschis San Giuseppe Riserva?
Very modern Barolos here, aged in barrique, but amazing concentration and style. You may or may not like this style of winemaking, but you cannot help but admire the class of the offerings here.
Produttori del Barbaresco
Ultratraditional wines that show what the local terroir of Barbaresco is all about. An excellent Barbaresco normale and outstanding (often stunning) cru bottlings from the town’s best sites, including Asili, Rabaja and Montestefano. General manager Aldo Vacca is as classy as his wines!
I am saluting Gian Luigi Orsolani for his outstanding work with the Erbaluce grape, an indigenous white variety from northern PIemonte. Orsolani is the finest producer of this grape type in my opinion, crafting first-rate examples of dry white, sparkling and passito versions.
Braida – Giacomo Bologna
Splendid bottlings of Barbera d’Asti, from the humble to the sublime, especially the Bricco dell’Uccellone and the Bricco della Bigotta. Still one of the finest and most influential producers of Barbara d’Asti. Also a superb Moscato d’Asti (Vigna Senza Nome) and arguably the finest bottling of Brachetto d’Acqui. Raffaella Bologna is continuing her late father’s work in fine fashion.
This gorgeous estate in the heart of the Barolo zone has been improving dramatically for the past decade, thanks to the efforts of general manager Giovanni Minetti and winemaker Danilo Drocco. A few years ago, Oscar Farinetti, the owner of the gourmet food store, Eataly, became the prinicpal owner of the winery and has already shown his influence by introducing value-priced Barbera and Dolcetto. There are so many excellent wines produced at Fontanafredda; this is an estate that has numerous wines for a wide consumer base and any producer that wants to grow their business in the coming decade should be looking at this model.
Tenuta San Guido/Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
I am putting these two estates in Bolgheri together, as they both produce outstanding examples of local reds that not only are beautiful wines on their own, but are also known around the world. These estates, along with Grattamacco and Le Macchiole continue to be the identity for Bolgheri, Tuscany’s new light.
Bottles of Ornellaia and Masseto, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Brunello di Montalcino has been in the news as of late, and not for all the right reasons. So let’s salute Il Poggione for making Brunello the right way – the traditional way. Winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci has a gentle winemaking hand, as he prefers to let the local terroir shine through in his wines. I’ve tasted examples of Il Poggione Brunello from the 1970s that are still in fine shape. As for the recent controversy about the possible inclusion of grapes other than Sangiovese in Brunello, well, there was never any doubt about that at Il Poggione; so the respect for the land and the wine as seen here (as well as at dozens of other local estates such as Biondi-Santi, Col d’Orcia, Talenti and Sesta di Sopra to name only a few) needs to be saluted.
Federico Carletti has done as much as any producer in Montepulciano to revive the fortunes of its most famous wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The regular bottling is always very good, but it is the Vigna Asinone bottling is the star here. Deeply concentrated with new oak and sleek tannins, this is a modern, but very precise wine that is one of Tuscany’s finest.
Campania’s most historically important winemaking estate, this winery continued to improve after a family split in the 1980s (some of the family members established a new winery in the Avellino province) and the change in leadership from Antonio Mastroberardino to his son Piero. Clonal research became an important factor here, and today, the family is producing the best examples of Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina they have ever made. Of course, Taurasi is still the most important wine here, and if today’s bottlings are not as staunchly tradtional as those from the 1960s and early 1970s, they are still first-rate and just as importantly, are not covered up by the vanilla and spice of new oak that other Taurasi producers seem to prefer these days. How nice that this defender of the local winemaking heritage is doing so well these days!
Feudi di San Gregorio
This estate made a splash with its entrance on the scene in the mid 1980s and they are still one of Campania’s most important producers. Rich, deeply concentrated bottlings of Taurasi, but even more impressive white wines, especially Cutizzi Greco di Tufo and Pietracalda Fiano di Avellino. Now there are even beautifully made single variety sparkling wines in the classic method produced from Greco, Falanghina and Aglianico. Congratulations to owner Antonio Capaldo on his innovative efforts at this great estate!
Luigi Maffini is making some of the most brilliant white wines in all of Italy as his small estate in the province of Salerno, south of Napoli. While his reds made from Aglianico are nicely done, the whites made from Fiano are routinely outstanding. There is the non-oak aged Kratos and the French oak-aged Pietraincatenata, an age-worthy Fiano. There is also a sumptuous Fiano Passito, which in my opinion, is one of the greatest dessert wines in all of Italy (the 2004 is particularly exceptional).
Cantine Marisa Cuomo
This small estate, located in the town of Furore on the Amalfi Coast, is set in an exceptionally beautiful seting, as the pergola vineyards cling to steep slopes a few hundred feet above the sea. Marisa and her husband, winemaker Andrea Ferraioli, are best known for the exceptional white, Fiorduva, a blend of indigenous varieties (Ripole, Fenile and Ginestra), but I think the Furore Rosso Riserva is also an important wine. This is extreme viticulture at its finest!
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Here is another of my Top 100 producers in Italy.
One of the seminal producers of Barolo is the Cavallotto family of Castiglione Falletto. Established in 1948 by Olivio Cavallotto, the operations are run today by his offspring, siblings Alfio, Giuseppe and Laura, who continue to make wines that are shining examples of terroir.
The key to their wines – as with any producer – emerges from the vineyards and the Cavallotto family’s prized site is Bricco Boschis, which sits on a hillside in Castglione Falletto, overlooking much of the Barolo zone. Several red wines are produced from this vineyard, including Grignolino, Freisa and Barbera, but the various offerings of Barolo offer the best evidence of the superior quailty of this vineyard.
Each year a regular bottling of Bricco Boschis Barolo is bottled, while in the finest vintages, a Riserva bottling, labeled Vigna San Giuseppe, is produced. Both of these Barolos, as well as the Riserva bottling from the adjacent Vignolo vineyard are excellent examples of wines that perfectly display their terroir.
A principal reason for this is the decision to only use grandi botti for aging the wines, which allows the fruit to shine through with minimal wood influence. Combine this traditional way of winemaking along with low yields on immaculately farmed sites and you have a recipe for greatness. Even a humble Piemontese red such as Grignolino is an unqualified success, as the Cavallotto bottling offers more depth of fruit and greater complexity than almost any other example of this variety.
But the Barolos from Bricco Boschis are what truly define Cavallotto as one of the greatest producers in Italy. Offering gorgeous cherry and raspberry fruit along with hints of nutmeg and cedar, the wines are quite full in the mouth; elegantly crafted tannins and pinpoint acidity give the wines a remarkable silkiness. The regular bottling of Bricco Boschis Barolo is always striking, while the Vigna San Giuseppe is even better; more deeply concentrated and structured for 20-25 years of cellaring – and in some vintages, such as the glorious 2001 – perhaps as long as 30 or 40 years. This is one of the great bottlings of Barolo and you owe it to yourself to try at least one vintage of this wine to understand what classic Barolo is all about!
One final note about these wines is that they are ideal for food. The family does not make wines to garner high ratings or please the market; rather they make wines that are perfect representations of their site. I have tasted Cavallotto Barolo with any number of dishes, be it roast duck, braised rabbit or even river trout and have been mesmerized by how well the wine works with each food. Given that the Piemontese are idealists when it comes to pairing their wines with the local cuisine, this is about as high a praise I can offer!
The best wines of Cavallotto include:
- Grignolino (Piemonte DOC)
- Dolcetto d’Alba “Vigna Scot”
- Barbera d’Alba “Bricco Boschis – Vigna Cucolo”
- Langhe Nebbiolo “Bricco Boschis”
- Barolo “Bricco Boschis”
- Barolo “Bricco Boschis – Vigna San Giuseppe” Riserva
- Barolo “Vignolo” Riserva
Renato Ratti Winery, Annunziata (Photo ©Tom Hyland)