Archive for the ‘Asili’ category

Produttori del Barbaresco Asili 1999

September 19, 2008

img_5120When the wines from Barbaresco are discussed a lot of generalisations tend to be made: the grapes ripen earlier than in Barolo and the biggest part of the DOCG’s soil consists of the same calcareous marl that is found around the comunes of Barolo and La Morra, all resulting in lighter structured Nebbiolo performing as humble understudy for the more famous and ageworthy examples from Barolo. How inaccurate such generalisations can be is beautifully described in Edward Steinberg’s ‘The vines of San Lorenzo’, an in depth exploration on the superstar of Nebbiolo Angelo Gaja and the making of his famous cru Sorì San Lorenzo. Through conversations with viticulturist Frederico Curtaz aspects as for example exposition, the position of the vines on the slope and methods of planting are lined up in order to unravel the mysteries of terroir, a concept that stresses the uniqueness of a specific site opposed to common characters of a whole region.

When the qualities of certain vineyards in Barbaresco are considered it’s not surprising their wines are more baroleggiano than one might suspect. Montefico, Rabajà, Montestefano and Asili are notable examples, the latter known for its subtle wines, ultimately shown in the 1999 Produttori del Barbaresco. Deep ruby red in the glass, intense, highly aromatic aromas of cherries, red berries, violets, roses, exotic spices and a hint of tar are the prelude to a full-bodied palate where sheer power and great finesse are marvelously balanced with smooth tannins, ample acidity and a long, persistent finish. This is benchmark Barbaresco that rightly deserves a place in any serious cellar.

Source: Enoteca Sileno/The Grocer  Price: $145  Drink: Now-2020+

Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole Part 1: The People

February 28, 2008

Wine is all about transformation. From the grapes that slowly change during the season to the proces of vinification, ultimately turning them into wine. At Ceretto one should add the family, whose founding father Riccardo started producing bulk wine at the Casa Vinicola Ceretto in the late 1930’s. In those days winemaking in the hills of the Langhe  was far removed from modern practices, there was little or no information about viticulture, so grapes were picked when everyone else was picking. A conscious perception of terroir didn’t exist, the reknowned slopes of Brunate were regarded as just another vineyard. Wines were made with the means available, laboratories, stainless steel tanks or barriques were unknown. All this changed in the 1960’s when Riccardo’s sons Bruno and Marcello got involved in the business as commercial and technical director respectively. Known as the ‘Barolo Brothers’, Bruno and Marcello developed the present-day philosophy of making great wine while emphasizing the individual characters of distinguished vineyards. 

In order to succeed the Ceretto’s decided to buy and lease some of the regions best sites to grow their own grapes. In 1970 Bruno and Marcello bought Bricco Asili, regarded as one of the best vineyards in the Barbaresco region. Azienda Agricola Bricco Asili is the first estate bought. Named after the vineyard it is surrounded by, it is the winery that now produces the famous Barbaresco Bricco Asili and the Barbaresco Bricco Asili Bernadot. It is also the winery where a revolution took place by the introduction of stainless steel tanks, an aberration in the early ’70’s and a clear indication of the innovations that were implemented in the following decennia. Ceretto’s empire slowly expanded over the next 20 years with the acquisition of parcels in various great vineyards in Barolo’s major production zones: Bricco Rocche (1.75 ha) in Castiglione Falletto, Prapò (2.4 ha) in Serralunga d’Alba and Brunate (5.6 ha) and Cannubi (0.4 ha) in Barolo. The latter is bought in 2002 and with prices for premium sites gone through the roof -around € 825.000 per hectare for Cannubi and € 600.000 for Brunate – this could well be the last big acquisition. In order to produce top quality Barolos the ultra-modern winery Azienda Agricola Bricco Rocche has been build in Castiglione Falletto.

Besides these two estates, the administrative, commercial and logistic headquarters of Ceretto are situated in Azienda Agricola Monsordo Bernardina in Alba. This place also acts as a production centre for an extensive range of wines including traditional wines as Barolo Zonchera, Barbaresco Asij, Langhe Arneis Blangé, Dolcetto d’Alba Rossana, Barbera d’Alba Piana and Nebbiolo d’Alba Bernardina. But if one estate really shows Ceretto’s balancing act between tradition and innovation it is this one. As a result of close cooperation with wineries abroad, including Krug, Cape Mentelle and Petaluma, various international varieties have been planted in more or less successful experiments. The ultimate testimonies are La Bernardina, a sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Monsordo, a red wine produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Nebbiolo under the Langhe DOC umbrella.

Within a relatively short period Ceretto, as many other Piedmontese producers, has made the transition from a producer of bulk wines to one of highly sought-after wines with pedigree and distinction. In the quickly changing landscape of the global world of wine strategies have been hatched and executed with succes, promoting innovation without losing traditions out of sight. Raised under these circumstances Bruno’s and Marcello’s children have entered the business in 1999. Their contribution runs from winemaking to marketing, mangement and even artistic skills, ensuring the brand will undergo a new positive transformations with respect for tradition and identity.  

With a surging interest in Piedmontese wines all over the world Frederico Ceretto looks after the company’s export markets. On a recent trip to Australia the first stop was WA. While cousin Alessandro went to pay a visit to Cape Mentelle in Margaret River, Frederico stayed in Perth to host a number of tastings with some fabulous wines. All tasting notes will follow very soon.