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2009 Barbaresco Cru Tre Stelle, Barbaresco, Cascina delle Rose
Cascina delle Rose, with its refreshingly open, ethereal Barbaresco wines is a new exciting addtion to our range. Giovanna Rizzolio, aided by husband Italo and his young sons Davide and Riccardo, tends her 3 hectares of vines as sympathetically and naturally as possible. The Barbaresco Cru/Vigna Tre Stelle on the right of the old road has a thin layer of earth over pure calcareous soil, while Cru/Vigna Rio Sordo to the left is deep-seated with more clay; stylistically, a perfect reflection of the ethereal, raspberry kirsch Tre Stelle and mulberry-rich Rio Sordo wines.
Italo and Davide share the winemaking responsibilities; 2004 was Davide’s inaugural vintage after serving a nine year apprenticeship under Giovanna’s gaze. He also attended Alba’s well thought of Scuola Enologica Umberto 1. The wines are vinified in static stainless steel, using selected yeast, before being transferred to a battery of large 10 to 30hl slavonian oak botte, where they remain, silently, for between 15 and 18 months before bottling.
Giovanna’s story is a fascinating one: descended from Napolitana, Milanese (Como), and local Monferrato stock, her family had been mill owners and silk merchants in the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Located in the Barbaresco hamlet of ‘Tre Stelle’, Cascina delle Rose was bought in 1948 as the family’s summer retreat (‘una casa d’estivo’).
At first the 5 hectares were farmed polyculturally: vineyards, hazelnuts, pastoral, maize, wheat, livestock – a classic fattoria setup, complete with contadini /peasants who worked the land and sold the produce on behalf of the Rizzolio family. This ancient ‘mezzadria’ system, one of the reasons why Italian vineyards, and with that wine, failed to keep pace with their French neighbours, was in place even when the cantina was inherited by Giovanna in 1992. She immediately took a broom to the old ways and took to her tractor, setting a new course that would realise the first bottling in 2002 and new winery in 2003.
Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.
A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.
Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.
Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.
The Piedmontese DOCG zone of Barbaresco is responsible for producing some of Italy’s finest wines. It occupies the same region and uses the same grape (Nebbiolo) as its bigger brother Barolo, but is a third of the size (only 640 hectares versus Barolo’s 1,700 hectares). It is also 50 years younger than Barolo, having produced wine labelled Barbaresco since 1890.
Barbaresco earned its DOCG after Barolo in 1980, largely thanks to the efforts of Angelo Gaja. The soils are lighter here than in Barolo – both in colour and weight – and more calcareous. The slopes are also less favourably situated and (relatively speaking) yield earlier-maturing yet extremely elegant wines that require less oak ageing (normally one year in oak plus six months in bottle). The appellation’s key districts are Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive and Alba.
Recommended producers: Cigliuti, Gaja, Marchesi di Gresy