Why are these Wines so Yummy?
Back in 2005, I spent some time at Vietti. Their winery sits in the castle atop Castiglione Falletto. It’s walls broken by slit windows for archers to defend the grounds. The escape tunnel leading from the castle to the plains below had been filled in only a few years prior to my visit. Somehow they’ve managed to modernise aspects of the winery carving into the rock without collapsing the ancient buildings surrounding it.
One of my earlier experience of Vietti was at the Australian Wine Research Institutes Advanced Wine Assessment Course. A blind bracket of 9 Nebbiolo’s was presented, Vietti’s Perbacco from 1998 and Brunate from 1996. The Brunate was superb. My notes from the tasting read “Very complex, great harmony, texture, rich, long, very together, perfumed, incredible layers and vibrancy.” The Perbacco excellent, particularly at 1/8th the price. “Great purity, balance, and poise. Supple with an excellent core of fruit and lovely floral notes.”
In many ways, little has changed. Perbacco, typically declassified Barolo, is the wine to crack while you’re waiting for your Barolo to mature!
Vietti intrigues me. Some of the best Barolo I have devoured have come from their winery. Watching the wines evolve over time, both the same vintage and across vintages has been fascinating. Modern technology at times pierced the tradition. Last year a vertical tasting going back to 1982 was fascinating. It again highlighted my growing consensus that the drinking window for good Barolo, from great years, starts at around 10 years and is right in the zone between 15 and 20 years.
The Vietti family has been producing wine in Castiglione Falletto in the heart of Le Langhe in Piedmont for five generations, with 33 estate vineyards located across all 11 communes designated for the cultivation and production of Barolo, plus Roero for Arneis and Agliano Asti for Barbera and Moscato. In 2016 Vietti was purchased by the American Krause family, however current generation winemaker Luca Currado-Vietti continues to direct the Vietti Estate meticulously, together with his wife Elena Penna-Currado, to produce some of the finest and most representative wines of Le Langhe.
The grapes are selected from vineyards located in Castiglione Falletto, Monforte, Barolo and Novello where the vines are planted at an average of 4.800 vines per hectare. The vines are 7 to 35 years old with yields of 35 hl/ha, grown using the guyot system. After harvesting, the grapes are gently pressed. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel with daily cap submersion for extraction of flavour and colour.
Tasting in Context & with Contrast
The Context – Vietti Barolo Castiglione mini-vertical
The Contrast – 2013 Vintage vs 2014 Vintage
What to look out for
If you really want to get your head around these wines, taste both at the same time.
It makes it so much easier to find the differences and helps you to appreciate each wine’s qualities. Having a glass for each wine is the way to go!
If you’re up for it taste them all at once with some scaly mates. Don’t fear they’ll last for a couple of days open.
Tasting Order: No big issues with order here. Perhaps the 2014 before the 2013.
Flavours: Savoury dark fruits 2013, more vibrant fresh fruits and flowers in the 2014.
Acid: Perceived acid a smidge higher in the 2014 . If you’re not sure what acid is, think of the difference between straight water and water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it.
Tannins & Texture: Look for some chunky front and mid palate tannin in the 2013, fine tannins of great line and length in 2014.
When your tasting, think about the 5 elements below, they’ll make it simple and ensure you cover off the important aspects of good wine. We’ll be exploring these in detail in a series of posts for members only soon!
Tips for Drinking these Wines
🌡Temp: 16-18°C. We tend to drink reds an edge warm. There’s nothing wrong with chucking the bottles in the fridge for 15minutes to drop a few degrees off them. If they end up too cold they’ll warm up quickly in the glass.
🍷Decanting: Both of these wines will benefit from being thrown in a decanter, particularly in their youth. If you’re using a Coravin or other wine preserver, pour enough into each glass to be able to try them over the course of several hours. These young reds will open up and be more expressive with a bit of time in the glass.
⏳Time: I love trying good wines stand alone, with food, and, often the next day. It gives them the chance to shine and ensures you don’t miss a good wine through impatience or fail to bring out it’s best by not marrying them to food.
🕯Cellaring: The rules of thumb for cellaring differ for each producer depending on their sites, quality of fruit and winemaking methods. This recommendation is specific to the two wines. Both are drinking beautifully now, a testament to a skilled maker, one who clearly understands the interplay between oxygen, fruit, and, tannin! Nebbiolo, 2018-2028.
🥩🍝🍕🍳Food Match: Just think Piedmontese, braises, rich tomato based ragù, truffles, beef, quail, lamb, wild boar, rabbit. Beef carpaccio with egg yolk and truffle oil! Head south and pair it with a pizza and you’ll go to a happy place. They make for excellent BBQ wines too.
The Best 2 Options for Preserving your Wine:
- Grab a Coravin wine preserver.
- Watch this video, “Stop the Wine-ocide” Kaani 2012 – My Deep Dark Secret, one of my first, about saving open bottles of wine from the drain, sorry about the quality, but, the message is still there.
Nebbiolo, pronounced NEH-bee-oh-low, is such a unique variety. The name is derived from the Italian word Nebbia meaning fog. To theories for the name exist. The first that it refers to the fog that the vineyards of the Langhe are often immersed in. Second that the natural bloom that covers the grapes gives them a foggy appearance. Given the latter applies to most red grapes I prefer the former! There are 4 main clones of which Nebbiolo Lampia dominates over Nebbiolo Michet, Rosé (now proven to be a different variety), and, Bolla.
Where is it grown?
Southern central and north Piemonte: Langhe including Verduno, Roero, Ast, Carema, Biella, Novara and Vercelli. It is also grown in the lower parts of the Valle d’Aosta where it is known as Picotendroi, and, Lombardy amongst others.
What does it taste like?
The ultimate case of not judging a book by its cover, Nebbiolo, at first appears pale in colour, old wines can have the appearance of rusty tap water.
Then you smell it! The aroma of most red wines is dominated by fruit characters. In contrast, Nebbiolo’s aroma is typically a mix of complex secondary aroma, earthy, tary, spice, rose, citrus peel, woody herbs like rosemary, liquorice, phenol, dark chocolate, tabacco, truffles, leather, and, dark cherry fruit, often more evident on the palate. You’ll see this difference immediately comparing to a different variety like, Barbera or Dolcetto.
Good Nebbiolo has a core of fruit running the length of your tongue, along with layers of those same secondary characters. Nebbiolo’s grape tannins give it a distinct texture, that for those who have not tried it before can seem hard, and, unyielding. Look for the quality and depth of tannin.
Achieving well balance tannin, alcohol, and, acidity makes for great Nebbiolo.
More than most other Italian wines, Nebbiolo, demands food to be at it’s best. A little fat and salt, enhance the texture and bring out the flavours.
Where in the World do Vietti’s Wines Come From?
Vietti’s base is atop the hill in Castiglione Falleto with vineyards in Castiglione Falletto, Monforte, Barolo and Novello.
The Krause Family bought Vietti a couple of years back, leaving, Luca and the Family in full control of production, hence the name below.
The 2013 Vintage
The 2013 harvest occurred approximately 15 days later than the average over the past 10 years, finishing early in November with the last bunches of nebbiolo. The season began slowly with cool temperatures in March and April, and very wet conditions in April and May. Despite a very positive summer and good weather between véraison and ripening, the vine was unable to completely make up the sluggish start. Good berry size and water reserves resulted in larger, heavier and more compact bunches that in recent years. The early ripening dolcetto wines are fresh, fragrant and beautifully expressive. The cooler daytime temperatures and shorter period of intense heat resulted in lighter bodied barbera wines with firmer acids. Nebbiolo is the variety that benefited most from the high day-time temperatures recorded in September and October, which allowed the development of its full phenolic and aromatic profile ideal for ageing. Wherever green harvesting and stripping of the leaves were carried out at the right time and in the right way, 2013 is an excellent vintage of well-structured, long-lasting wines.
The 2014 Vintage
Despite being one of the most complex vintages to manage in the vineyard, the favourable end to 2014 resulted in excellent quality. A mild winter and spring saw and early start to the season. Summer began with average temperatures, however rainfall was above average with some really significant rain events in late July leading to increased risk of fungal attacks. September and October were extremely positive with clear skies and good diurnal temperature shifts. Dolcetto was the most affected in terms of low yields and whilst less structured than 2013 show enticing aromatics and intense colour. Generally speaking the 2014 barberas show greater acid balance, firmer tannic structures and longer cellaring potential. Nebbiolo in 2014 shows great potential, with the best results coming from the most carefully managed vineyards with the sunniest aspects and well-drained soils. Patchy hail storms in Barolo did create some issues, whilst Barbaresco faired beautifully with a third of Barolo’s rainfall and no hail! The nebbiolo-based 2014s are elegant with excellent bouquets packed with minerally notes, and superb acids making them long-lasting. The 2014 vintage confirms how fundamental the end of the season is in affecting the final quality of the grapes and wines.
2014 Baroo: Surprise, Surprise – Vietti (FEB 2018) By Antonio Galloni
This is an absolutely phenominal set of wines from Vietti. The 2014s are every bit as magnificent as they have always been from barrel. The dual flagships Rocche di Castiglione and Ravera are superb, while the entry-level Barolo Castiglione does just as good a job of conveying the personality of the year. Sadly, Brunate sustained 60% hail damage. As a result, Luca Currado opted not to bottle a Barolo Brunate. Yields are down about 25% across the board, so readers who are interested in these Barolos should snap them up before they disappear.