Wine style: Classic traditionist Barbaresco, clean and supple. Iron fist in a velvet glove. 100% Nebbiolo.
Region: Vigna Loreto, Cru Ovello, Barbaresco Township, Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont, Italy
Vines age: Planted in 1970, certified by the Green Experience
Winemaking: 3 weeks skin-maceration, aged 20 months in 20,000 L botti (large oak casks) before bottling
Production Volume: Around 2,600 bottles per annum
Many Italian wine lovers would regard Albino Rocca as a "Modernist" producer because Angelo Rocca was one of the original "Barolo Boys" who started to lowering the yields, doing green harvest, and aging wines in barriques in the 1980s.
What is less known is that after 18 years experimenting with the barriques, Angelo Rocca finally switched back to the "Traditionist" winemaking approach: long skin maceration, and aging in large, neutral casks (botti). The combination of a modern, green approach in the vineyard, and the return to traditionist approach in winemaking proved to be the recipe to produce breathtaking wines.
Today, Albino Rocca is making a lineup of classic, traditionist Barbaresco which many (including myself) regarded as one of the best in the region. These wines, described by Kerin O'Keefe as "polished but pure Nebbiolo sensations and finesse", are in fact the most "Burgundian" wines we have tasted in the region.
2014 is a classic vintage in Barbaresco where the growing conditions (warm days and cool nights) are compared by many with those in the 1960s, prior to the influence of global warming. This is a perfect vintage to taste the differences between different Crus, and also a vintage when we know for certain that the great sites produce great wines (some traditional great sites are simply too hot in warm years to make great wines).
Vigna Loreto is a special plot within Cru Ovello in Barbaresco... read on to understand why this plot is so special.
Why Ovello Vigna Loreto matters?
With 78 ha, Cru Ovello is the largest MGA in Barbaresco but as you can imagine, it covers a relatively large area with a number of subzones with West and East exposure, all sharing a similar calcareous soils rich in clay but producing wines of various qualities.
It is often easy to forget that the first publication of a map dedicated to the historic vineyards of Barbaresco was in 1984 (in Renato Ratti's Carta del Barbaresco), and the official delimitation of the 66 Crus (MGA) in Barbaresco only took effect from the 2007 vintage.
If we compare the boundaries of Ovello MGA to the vineyard maps in Slow Food Editore's "A Wine Atlas of the Langhe", we will find that in the past, the MGA nowadays known as "Ovello" actually covered 3 different subzones: "Ovello", "Casotto-Lorento" on the West facing slope, and "Morassino" on the East facing slope. These three subzone covers around 40% of the area, the rest of the vineyard are not recognized as "Cru quality".
Of the three subzones, "Casotte-Lorento" is the most prized and has always been bottled separately. For example, in the 1970 vintage, Produttori del Barbaresco bottled both a Riserva Casotto and Riserva Ovello, while Carlo Boffa makes a Barbaresco Vigna Casot before bottling it as Barbaresco Ovello as a blend with other plots.
Vigna Loreto is a 0.5 ha plot located on the South-West facing slope at the lower part of the Casotte-Lorento subzone. This is essentially a "monopole" of Albino Rocca and they have been bottling this formerly as "Vigneto Loreto", and nowadays as "Ovello Vigna Lorento".
To put things in prespective, we are talking about the top 0.64% of Cru Ovello. In fact, vines here must be cropped at 10hl/ha less than other vines in Cru Ovello to be bottled as Ovello Vigna Lorento.
Ripe, bright and intense red fruits, rose petals.
Lots of tensions, became expressive over time.
Good warmth, intense fine tannins, lively acidities.
Drink this wine over 3-5 days for maximum enjoyment.
Pair with red-meat dishes, preferably salty and savoury.
"The 2014 Barbaresco Ovello Vigna Loreto is powerful and imposing out of the glass, with serious mid-palate intensity, depth and volume to match. A rush of sweet red cherry, plum, menthol, rose petal and blood orange give the 2014 its somewhat exotic personality. Readers should be prepared to give the 2014 at least a few years to shed some formidable tannin. Today, it is decidedly austere." 93 Antonio Galloni, Vinous