Archive for the ‘Bernadot’ category

Ceretto revisited

November 30, 2008

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The quickest way from Neive to Alba is not the most scenic one as the Strada Statale di Santa Vittoria takes you through the industrialist alluvial plains of the Tanaro river, but leaving the outskirts of Alba behind, the backdrop immediately grows dramatic again. In San Cassiano, between Alba and Grinzane, the impressive La Bernardina estate is hard to miss towering high above its surroundings. On arrival it appears to be in the middle of a huge renovation with the relocation of the barrel room just completed and the construction of what is going to be one of the regions most modern tasting rooms in full swing. Host Roberta Ceretto decides the surroundings of the Bricco Rocche winery in Castiglione Falletto are more inspiring at this stage and a short drive takes us to what is the production centre for the estate’s cru Barolos. On arrival another renovation is being undertaken, this time without Roberta’s knowledge, leaving her rather perplexed as vineyard workers are pulling out some of Bricco Rocche’s oldest vines. An entire block is going to be replanted in order to retain an optimal mix between young, mature and old vines, and when this process is undertaken regularly continuity of production and consistency of quality is guaranteed. Apart from keeping the vineyard healthy this renovation also allows to plant the vines at a much higher density than the current 4,300 per hectare.

The winery itself is a stunning piece of architecture à la Ceretto, modern yet meaningful and integrated in the the natural environment. The glass cube on the photo embodies Barolo, sharp edged when young with a great solid structure and longevity. The production in the cellar was in full swing and as we walked past the filled fermentation vessels the content of small 20 hl tank was just being pumped over. As we were told this was the entire production of 2008’s Cannubi, a cru of which Ceretto has only a tiny 0.4 holding, it felt like watchingthe making of a future collectors item. It might not be the greatest single vineyard in Barolo but it is certainlythe oldest as the label of the Langhe’s most ancient bottle reads “Cannubi 1752”. Roberta admits that with the purchase of the parcel in 2003 the collection of the estate’s crus was finalised. The old vines that have been nurished by the church for nearly a century will be left in the vineyard as opposed to the the ongoing renovation of the others as wewitnessed at Bricco Rocche. However, for those who want to buy the first release of Ceretto’s Cannubi patience is the key word as this wine will only be released as a Riserva after 10 years maturation in cask and bottle. If you can’t wait that long the ones from producers like Giacomo Brezza, E. Pira, Luigi Einaudi or Marchesi di Barolo are worth seeking out.

Back at La Bernardina the tasting of some of Ceretto’s 2004 releases proved to be another highlight. Already lauded as one of the best vintages ever, the wines underscored this once more and to fill your cellar you don’t have to wait as those wines are all released.

The 2004 Barolo Zonchera is Ceretto’s entry-level Barolo named after the Zonchetta area around the town of Barolo. This wine has a deep brick-red colour showing bright aromas of cherry, strawberry, flowers, cedar and spice. The full-bodied palate is lush and round with loads of ripe fruit and a long, smooth lingering finish. Although the wine could be enjoyed in all its youthful glory the tighlty knit structure suggests it will be even better after a few more years in the cellar. Good, drink now-2020.

Made at the Bricco Asili winery in the Barbaresco DOCG, the 2004 Barbaresco Bricco Asili Bernadot shows what a stellar vintage can do with the grapes from the relatively young vines of Ceretto’s vineyard in Treiso. Dark ruby red in the glass the nose shows the perfumed opulance of young Barbaresco with aromas running through red berry fruit, wilted flowers, vanilla and exotic spices. On the palate, it is rich and concentrated with ripe fruit on the foreground nicely balanced against firm tannins and fresh acidity on a long and firm finish. This wine is ready to drink in 2 to 3 years and should maintain style for at least another decade. Very good, drink 2011-2020+.

Over the years it has become clear I love the open and perfumed style of Barolo from around La Morra and at Ceretto this means Brunate. The 2004 Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate shows a dark red colour that will acquire a brick red tinge with a bit more age. The bouquet is full with complex aromas reminiscent of prunes, plums, red berries, roses, violets, raisin, vanilla and cloves that follow through to a palate with bold fruit, big tannins and balanced acidity. Full and ripe, this wine always remains pretty and elegant and is all about restrained power. This is a must have for every serious cellar. Very impressive, drink 2012-2025.

The last wine shows great Barolo is all about terroir with the 2004 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapò a showcase for the more robust examples from around Serralunga d’Alba. This wine has a deep red colour and shows aromas of plum, prune, strawberry, cedar, spice and a hint of earthy undergrowth on the nose. The palate offers ample fruit on the front and the middle while big, chewy tannins add even more power towards the finish. The wine will shed off some of its robust character over the next few years and will gain a more velvety elegance with 10 to 20 years of age. Excellent, drink 2011-2025+