About this WINE
The son of a teacher from the ‘borgata’/hamlet of Albesani, close to the Barbaresco village of Neive, young Francesco Versio graduated in 2005 from Alba’s Umberto 1 wine school & in 2009 from Turin University, specialising in viti & viniculture. He worked briefly at the cooperative Terre di Barolo before joining Bruno Giacosa first as a cellarman & then as their oenologist in June 2011.
His family own a tiny property of two small plots of old vines in the ‘comune’ of Neive: one in the vineyard of San Cristoforo, planted in 1969; the other, Currà, even older, lies below San Cristoforo. Both face south-west & overlook the village of Barbaresco; both were rented out until 2012. The ‘terreno’ of San Cristoforo is more calcareo/calcareous, giving freshness & perfume; that of Currà is more sabbioso/sandier, imparting a warm softness to the wine.
In 2013 Francesco made only 20HL (2,600 bts) of his first Barbaresco from their two vineyards, at a yield of circa 30HL/ha, in the basement cellar of this parents’ house. He spent his earnings on a new temperature-controlled stainless-steel tank – the controlling element to be used only in emergency - & a large Stockinger botte grande. Vinification is traditional, with long macerations on the skins when the vintage allows; the wines always being bottled with approx. 25 mg of free sulphur.
The 2014 vintage was down by 50% due to the vintage & because he replanted the Currà vineyard (with 60% Lampia, 30% Michet & 10% Picotener). From vintage 2016 Francesco has bought fruit from a nearby Neive vineyard, Tetti.
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
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.