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*Update: We have now added the 2010 Barolo Riserva ‘Vignolo’ to the list. Yes! Yes! Yes!

*Watch or listen as we explore the history, vineyards, winemaking and wines of Cavallotto!

 

About a year ago we had a Barolo Magnum festa. There were some seriously big names amongst the mix. The top 3 wines in no particular order 1999 Bartolo Mascarello, 1999 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia, and, 2001 Cavallotto ‘Bricco Boschis’ Riserva made from the ‘Vigna San Giuseppe’ parcel within Cavallotto’s Monopole ‘Bricco Boschis’.

That is some serious company to play with.

When you unearth the history of Cavallotto, all the elements are there, great sites, high planting density, balanced healthy vineyards with moderate crops, now farmed organically.

Two additional elements take their wines to the next level, vine age, continuity of farmers with the retention of wisdom it offers! This is, and, has always been a family business, knowledge built on, and, passed from generation to generation.

Common threads run through Cavallotto’s wines, from their Dolcetto, to their Barbera, and, Nebbiolo’s, Langhe, Barolo Bricco Boschis, and, Barolo Riserva from Vigna San Guiseppe and Vigna Vignolo.

They are focused on purity of fruit, without the interference of oak, complexity, and, are one of the best examples off carefully considered élévage on the market. All of this results in wines of great expression and vibrancy.

Earlier this week I tasted, read drank, 12 x 2010 Baroli. Reflecting on the mix, there was a distinction between modern and traditional styles, perhaps less obvious than you would have seen 10 years ago, none the less it was there. The most modern of styles tended to have darker colour, less complexity, more new oak, look slightly more clinical and clean, not having the personality of the more traditional wines which tended to have great harmony, complexity, and, more intrigue. Unfortunately 2 of the more traditional wines clearly lacked cellar hygiene and were spoiled by Brettanomyces.

Cavallotto’s wines clearly sit on the classic, traditional, Barolo side of the ledger.

Cavallotto’s Wine Making

As you’d expect from wines made in a more classical style, there’s longer maceration, time on skins, which often softens tannins, and, layers in complexity, think perfume and truffles. Oak is old and large Botte 2,000-10,000L in volume. Not only do these keep the wine fresher during maturation, but, impart no oak tannins, aroma or flavour. Maturation is longer, than, many in both Botte and then bottle, the very reason you’re just seeing the 2012 Barolo now when many have released 2013’s.

They make such beautiful, expressive wines!

Where in the World do Cavallotto’s wines come from?

Cavallotto is yet another example of knowing your producers, and, their vineyards. In the heart of Castiglione Falletto, Cavallotto holds the monopole (single owner) vineyard Bricco Boschis, only a stones through away from another famed Barolo monopole, Monprivato. Although I don’t like comparing the two, Monprivato, produces some of the most Burgundian, Nebbiolo I’ve ever had.

You can see the Barbera in the light green on the map is planted on the ‘Bricco Boschis’, it’s just going to be good. Just like Vietti’s Langhe Nebbiolo, Cavallotto’s is sourced from vineyards that are effectively declassified Barolo vineyard.

Surrounding the Bricco Boschis, within 500m are the remainder of their holdings. Including the Vigna Vignolo, consistently the source of their Riserva.

All the vines have serious age, with Dolcetto planting near 40 years old, Barbera 55 years, and, Nebbiolo 45 to 55 years old.

 

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Cavallotto's Personality Packed Castiglione Falletto's

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About the Wines

Cavallotto's Barbera

Cavallotto Barbera d'Alba 'Vigna del Cuculo' 2015

From the importer: Cavallotto’s Vigna Cuculo is a major league Barbera and comes from a parcel of 50+-year-old vines on the western side of Bricco Boschis. This parcel of vines is named after the Cuckoo bird or Cuculo. We’re not sure why and neither is Alfio Cavallotto. The unique stature of this wine can, again, be attributed to the mature vines, low yields and powerful terroir of the Bricco Boschis. The western aspect and the preponderance of limestone in the soil here, tempers Barbera’s natural acidity, although the ’15 remains super bright. The ageing of the wine, too, is distinctive, with the fermenting must having spent 15 days on skins (a long time for Barbera) – this maceration bringing out fine structure and length. The wine is aged for 24 months in the same, aged Slavonian botti as the Nebbiolo wines, so it has none of the toasty new oak that blights many a Barbera. 2015 was a wonderful vintage for Barbera and Dolcetto and, as the note below makes clear, this is a vibrant but layered example, packed full of blueberry and plum, roasted almond aromas and flavours and a punchy, savoury close.

Lucious

Plush, plump, fresh, vibrant, luscious fruit, with juicy acid that sits beautifully in the wine. Will be delicious with food, so typical of the variety. Hallmark Cavallotto layering, with layers of tannin, and, flavour, considerably complexity, Lovely earthiness, red berry fruits, With great depth and length, wrapped, in layers of spice, and just a hint of earthiness. This shows just how good Barbera can be! Seamless, harmonious, beautiful.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

91+ Points

Cavallotto's 2015 Barbera d'Alba Superiore Vigna del Cuculo is a beautiful wine with well-controlled acidity and plump blackberry flavors. The wine presents a full and generous flavor profile with dense primary fruit and balanced flavors of savory spice and flint. Winemaking sees fermentation with semi-submerged caps and punch-downs for up to two weeks. The wine ages in large Slavonian casks in the family's ancient cellars for two years. Barbera from around the region shows fantastic results in the warm 2015 vintage. This wine is a prime example.

Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate

Cavallotto Nebbiolo's

Cavallotto Langhe Nebbiolo 2014

From the importer: The word ‘benchmark’ gets bandied around a lot these days, but few wines justify that classification more than this Nebbiolo. In average years, this wine comes from declassified young vine fruit from the great Castiglione Falletto crus of Bricco Boschis and Vignolo – so it is a wine that could be labelled as Barolo. In 2014, this went a step further. Due to an inclement harvest and very low yields, Cavallotto decided not to make any Barolo, and so all the Estate’s Barolo fruit (including that from the oldest vines which produce the Riserva wines) was channelled into this super-cuvée. And boy can you tell! Harvested during the second week of October, the grapes were fully destemmed and fermentation began with indigenous yeasts. Malolactic fermentation occurred in cement tanks during the spring following the harvest. The wine was then cask aged for 18 months in Slavonian (Croatian) oak botti, and the wine was then bottled unfiltered. This truly is a mini Barolo. It could legally be labelled as such and it delivers accordingly in the glass. Rose, grenadine, sappy, forest floor and leather notes abound on both the nose and palate. It’s a medium-bodied, juicy and pure wine with lovely perfumed drive and length, fine acidity and powdery tannins. A truly classy Barolo by any other name (in this case ‘Langhe Nebbiolo’).

Expressive

Cavallotto's Langhe, perfume and lift explode out of the glass, once again, complexity, vibrancy, and, layers, so expressive, the mouthfeel of the tannins is lively yet supple, it sounds strange, but, they are expressive, sometimes, tannins from modern styles can seem a bit dull. Knowing your vineyards, like Vietti's Perbacco, Cavallotto's Langhe Neb is declassified Barolo fruit and it shows.

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

90 Points

Cavallotto didn't make any Barolo in the 2014 vintage due to the cold rainy weather so the firm's best grapes went into this vibrant polished Nebbiolo. It opens with enticing scents of rose, perfumed berry, chopped herb and a whiff of tilled soil that follow through to the racy medium-bodied palate along with crushed raspberry, cherry, star anise and mineral. It's nicely balanced, with firm acidity and taut refined tannins. Drink through 2020.

Kerin O'Keefe, Wine & Spirits Magazine

90 Points

The 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo was born in what Alfio Cavallotto tells me was a problematic vintage with severe hail and rain storms. Because this estate farms according to organic and biodynamic methods, it lost up to 65% of its production. In fact, Cavallotto will not produce Barolo in 2014. The best Nebbiolo fruit was directed to this wine instead. Their loss is our gain as this wine offers a very good quality to price ratio. Fruit was harvested very late (the last few days of October) and the wine shows dark cherry ripeness with good structure at the back. The finish is slightly sweet and the wine ages in large oak casks for 18 months.

Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate

Cavallotto 'Bricco Boschis' Barolo 2012

2012 holds a sentimental spot in my heart, the year our first daughter was born. As if by design the 2012 Barolo’s are beautiful wines. I’ve been fortunate to try many including a 2012 Capellano Rupestris earlier this week. They sit as classical Baroli, with an edge of restraint, great line and length, fresh fragrant fruit, a great sophistication. Cavallotto’s 2012 sit’s comfortably in this profile of the vintage.

From the importer: Cavallotto release their Barolo wines when they consider them to be ready and this is why we are now offering the 2012 – when many other producers have released their 2013 wines months ago. The Bricco Boschis cru produces the Estate’s emblematic Barolo and is crafted from two parcels within this single vineyard. The Punta Marcello lies on the apex of the hill by the cantina. This cool terroir is planted to the relatively rosé sub-varietal of Nebbiolo, which is known for its fragrant, pale juice and long, angular tannins. The Vigna Colle Sud-Ovestparcel of the Bricco Boschis lies at a lower elevation and, facing due south, is the warmest microclimate of the hill. The wines from this part of the vineyard have proved to be more accessible when young, with darker, fruit-rich juice and softer tannins. The renowned Vigna San Giuseppe vines also often contribute to the blend. Together these three components form a complete picture of the cru, at once complementing each other and building aromatic and structural complexity into the final blend. Don’t think of this as an entry-level Barolo, it is so much more than that! Bricco Boschis is a truly profound vineyard and the vines for this cuvée average around 50 years of age! The wine spends about 30 days on skins before being aged in Slavonian oak casks of various sizes (all large, between 1,000-10,000 litres) for three years. The extra year in bottle has really made a wonderful difference here with some gorgeous honey and tobacco complexity coming through on both the aromatics and the silky, fleshy palate. It’s an extremely seductive, hedonistic Barolo that is also very well priced for the quality on offer. Alfio Cavallotto told us that this release reminds him of the 1998 version of this wine. It’s a terrific, perfectly balanced Barolo. Old school classic but fleshy and seductive as the tannins have begun to meld. I like it more than the 2011 (which I liked a lot).

Personality+

Drinking beautifully on first pour. A classic Barolo, seamless, with great harmony. It's incredibly drinkable now. Oppulent fruit is combined with restraint and supple, caressing tannins that run the length of your tongue. Roses and violets lift from the glass, enhanced by earthy, truffled hints. Every sniff has you finding a different aroma to enjoy. Bags of personality it's elegant, delicious, and, with a great core of fruit. The expression and generosity entice, with fine tannins complemented by lingering flavours. This is cracking Barolo showing it's pedigree. The careful élévage, brings the wine together, such harmony!

Paul Kaan - Chief Wine Hacker, Wine Decoded

92 Points

The Bricco Boschis site in Castiglione Falletto shows stunning results in the classic vintages… The 2012 Barolo Bricco Boschis is a more immediate and perhaps more accessible edition. The bouquet opens to plump fruit tones with dried cherry and plum. You also get warm tones of autumnal leaf, tobacco, wild mushroom and savory spice. The wine's texture is velvety and a bit softer.

Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate

94 Points

A firm, dense backbone of acidity and tannins shores up this red's cherry, strawberry, mint, tobacco and iron flavors. A beam of succulent acidity extends the long, spicy aftertaste. Best from 2020 through 2036.

Wine Spectator

Cavallotto Barolo Riserva 'Vignolo' 2010

From the importer: Cavallotto’s Barolo Riserva Vignolo comes from a 1.6 hectare parcel of this cru, which forms a ridge of southwest facing vines along with Codana and Monprivato. Planted between 1948 and 1966, Vignolo has some of the highest limestone content in Castiglione Falletto and lies 60-80 metres lower than the Bricco Boschis. These are two factors, among others, that account for this wine’s more gentle structure, purity of fruit and youthful approachability. In no way a lesser wine than the Vigna San Giuseppe from Bricco Boschis, it’s simply a different, terroir/cru driven expression of Castiglione FallettoThe 2010 spent 28 days on skins before being aged for four years in Slavonian oak casks of different sizes. Obviously a great year, this is a wine that well and truly lives up to the hype. We have only a few cases so get in quickly if you’re keen. The notes below capture the wine well.

94+ Points

This Riserva offers a very classic and traditional interpretation of the Nebbiolo grape. The 2010 Barolo Riserva Vignolo shows some texture on the palate as the wine moves forward with velvety richness and plushness. The bouquet, however, delivers important Nebbiolo authenticity with pressed rose, wild berry, balsam herb, earthy truffle and campfire ash. The whole effect is polished, buoyant and majestic.

Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate

93+ Points

The 2010 Barolo Riserva Vignolo is dark, mysterious and inviting, with serious depth and layers of flavors that unfurl in the glass. Rose petal, sage, rosemary, licorice and mint wrap around a core of dense red cherry and pomegranate-infused fruit. This is a decidedly plush, powerful Riserva. There is plenty of tannin lurking beneath, though, so readers need to be patient. Incense, tobacco and hints of game add the closing shades of complexity.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous