2011 Barolo, Ester Canale Rosso, Vigna Rionda, Giovanni Rosso, Piedmont, Italy
About this WINE
Davide Rosso took over from his father, Giovanni, in the early 2000s. He has since risen in reputation as one of the region’s greatest and most admired producers. The family owns some of the most desirable vineyards in Barolo, including arguably the region’s most prized: Vigna Rionda. The steep spine of Serralunga d’Alba creates wines of authority, power and raw minerality, which need a careful hand to reveal their intricacies.
Davide’s wines, like him, have a timeless quality, high sophistication, and a precise attention to detail. His range of single vineyards demonstrates his sensitivity and skill, and his pride around Serralunga d’Alba only magnifies the details of these crus. Due to the strength of the terroir, the styles of Serralunga d’Alba are unmistakeable every harvest, with a signature tension and minerality even in the lighter years.
Located due south of Alba and the River Tanaro, Barolo is Piedmont's most famous wine DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), renowned for producing Italy's finest red wines from 100 percent Nebbiolo.
Its red wines were originally sweet, but in 1840 the then extant Italian monarchy, the House of Savoy, ordered them to be altered to a dry style. This project was realised by French oenologist Louis Oudart, whose experience with Pinot Noir had convinced him of Nebbiolo's potential. The Barolo appellation was formalised in 1966 at around 1,700 hectares – only a tenth of the size of Burgundy, but almost three times as big as neighbouring Barbaresco.
Upgraded to DOCG status in 1980, Barolo comprises two distinct soil types: the first is a Tortonian sandy marl that produces a more feminine style of wine and can be found in the villages of Barolo, La Morra, Cherasco, Verduno, Novello, Roddi and parts of Castiglione Falletto. The second is the older Helvetian sandstone clay that bestows the wines with a more muscular style. This can be found in Monforte d'Alba, Serralunga d'Alba, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour and the other parts of Castiglione Falletto. Made today from the Nebbiolo clones Lampia, Michet and Rosé, Barolo has an exceptional terroir with almost every village perched on its own hill. The climate is continental, with an extended summer and autumn enabling the fickle Nebbiolo to achieve perfect ripeness.
Inspired by the success of modernists such as Elio Altare, there has been pressure in recent years to reduce the ageing requirements for Barolo; this has mostly been driven by new producers to the region, often with no Piedmontese viticultural heritage and armed with their roto-fermenters and barriques, intent on making a fruitier, more modern style of wine.
This modern style arguably appeals more to the important American market and its scribes, but the traditionalists continue to argue in favour of making Barolo in the classic way. They make the wine in a mix of epoxy-lined cement or stainless-steel cuves, followed by extended ageing in 25-hectoliter Slavonian botte (barrels) to gently soften and integrate the tannins. However, even amongst the traditionalists there has been a move, since the mid-1990s, towards using physiologically (rather than polyphenolically) riper fruit, aided by global warming. Both modernist and traditional schools can produce exceptional or disappointing wines.
Recommended traditionalist producers:
Giacomo Borgogno, Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Elio Grasso, Marcarini, Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Mascarello.
Recommended nmdernist producers:
Azelia, Aldo Conterno, Luciano Sandrone, Paolo Scavino and Roberto Voerzio
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.
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Cited as one of Barolo’s finest vineyards, a definite Grand Cru if & when the authorities get round to classifying the zone, Vigna Rionda is to Serralunga d’Alba what La Romanee-Conti is to Vosne-Romanee. It’s a vineyard that combines perfect exposure, soil, altitude & in Davide’s case old vines planted in 1946. The Giovanni Rosso cantina’s 1 hectare was inherited in 2010 from Davide’s cousin, Tommaso Canale, who had previously made & sold off the wine to the likes of Bruno Giacosa to bottle (as ‘Collina Rionda’).
Given the state of the vineyard, planted not just with Nebbiolo but also Dolcetto & Barbera, Davide has already replanted three-quarters with Nebbiolo; the remainder being prime old Nebbiolo vines, priceless plant material but producing only circa 2000 bts per year until the new vines come of age (in 2020?). 2011 is therefore Davide’s first vintage making Vigna Rionda, vinified in static stainless-steel, cement & in single 16hl slavonian oak large botte. Full bodied yet at the same time so agile, profound, mystical even. Think about drinking from 2021 at the earliest.
David Berry Green, BBR Italian Buyer
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