2014 Barolo, Ester Canale Rosso, Vigna Rionda, Giovanni Rosso, Piedmont, Italy
The 2014 Barolo Vigna Rionda is the best wine Davide Rosso has made yet from his holdings in Vigna Rionda. Translucent and deeply expressive, the 2014 hits all the right notes. Rose petal, dried herb, spice and bright red-toned fruit take on that inner sweetness and perfume that is arguably the single most distinctive Rionda attribute. In the glass, the 2014 is nervous and also quite persistent, which is to say very much in the style of the year.
Drink 2019 - 2034
Antonio Galloni, vinous.com (Nov 2018)
The Ester Canale vineyard was mostly replanted in 2011. The 2014 vintage was tricky, but here the glass shines a pale ruby-garnet colour, expressing perfumes of rosehip, wild strawberry and blood orange, enhanced in complexity by liquorice spice. Its style is more elegant than powerful, with grainy yet ripe tannins and well-integrated acidity.
Drink 2018 - 2034
Aldo Fiordelli, Decanter.com (Oct 2018)
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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Vigna Rionda is sited on a slope at elevations ranging from 820 to 1180 feet above sea level; the beneficial siting of this hill insures a great deal of sun throughout the day. The soils are a combination of marl, calcaire and a touch of sand; the vineyard is sheltered from excessive winds by the nearby Castelleto hill.
Pure notes of red and black fruit on the nose, reminiscent of cherries, raspberries and damsons, with hints of medicinal herbs in the background. Lovely depth on the palate, with juicy red and black fruit flowing in waves and filling the mouth, tempered by bright acidity and microscopically fine tannins. The finish is very long, velvety and elegant. A fabulous wine with amazing concentration, energy and balance. Quite forward for Vigna Rionda, this will give very pleasurable drinking while we wait for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages to come round.
Chris Pollington, Private Account Manager, Berry Bros. & Rudd
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