Posted by: jmbwineblog | September 6, 2010

Forza Piemonte (Parte 3; Barbaresco, Roero and a token Barolo?)

So next morning it was up bright and early for Day 3, of our whistle-stop tour, and once again there were some real gems on offer. Certainly a lot of fun, and not ‘quite’ as tiring as the Day of Barbaresco a Tavola.

Albino Rocca

Although Albino is still around, with his walking stick and dog, it is his son Angelo and Angelo’s two daughters who affectively run the show here. They have roughly 23 hectares of vines, 50% of which are planted with Nebbiolo producing roughly 130,000 bottles per vintage. Based on the information received from them, you could say that they are ‘semi-modern’ if you wish to bastardise the term to mean ‘how much barrique do they use?’, but I suppose that is what people mean by modern in this part of the world… 😉 Their piece de resistance is undoubtedly the single vineyard site in Barbaresco called Bricco Ronchi, in which they own 5 hectares, and the vines average out at 50-70 years old, and receive roughly 20% of their treatment in French barriques depending on the vintage in question.  They have a small but very modern, state of the art winery.

Overlooking the land with Albino

The cleanest cellars I saw on the trip, other than Ceretto!

2008 Langhe Chardonnay, “Da Bertu”; [production of roughly 8ooo bottles per vintage, all ferments an ageing takes place in tank], crisp, grassy, mineral, lime, lemon, soapstone, marble, a touch of butter, slight hints of pineapple, the palate is a touch taught. Butter, lemon, pineapple, mango? Earthy, mineral, lemon butter finish. ****(*+)

2007 Barbera d’Alba, “Gepin”; [15,000 bottles production, from 50 year old vines, the wine spends 9 months in large botte], spice, plum, cherry, vanilla, cassis, chocolate, coffee, mocha, rust, iron, a hint of minerality, cinnamon, nutmeg, rock, slate, medium to full body, ripe, cherry, jam, herbs, spice, plum finish, well made, delicate but structured wine. Restrained and classy. ****(*+)

2006 Barbaresco “Vigneti Brich Ronchi”; [50-70 year old vines, 25,000 bottles, 80% of the wine spends time in botte, and 20% in barrique, 20% of which are new], deep, powerful, mineral, rock, vanilla, spice, pepper, sandstone, soapstone, herbs, eucalyptus, modern but perfumed and elegant. Soft tannin, crystalline defined fruit, poised, regal, roses, tar, strawwberry, cherry, dark plum, cocoa, round, caressing, slate, flint, burnt matches, slightly saline, concentrated, restrained, earth, soil, coffee, dark plum finish. ***(***+)

2009 Moscato d’Asti; fresh, mineral, lemon, lime, fruit salad, licquorice, fresh, lime soda, limeade, linear. Lovely lime, mineral, slate, flinty finish, with hints of nuts. *****

The Four wines we tasted...

Clearly the wines at Albino Rocca are not in the traditionalist camp, but neither would you call them modernists. They have strong family traditions, and the wines have a restrained elegance that one expects of less modern wines. Certainly a producer to look out for, and I think their conservative use of new barrique certainly helps mould the style they make without ever going over the top. Next it was off to a famous traditional producer, but the way the wine tastes, one could certainly mistake them for modernists.

Azienda Agricola Paitin

Surrounded by their own vineyards, and holding a monopoly over the famous Sori Paitin vineyard, this producer, certainly has a reputation to keep up with. They have 17 hectares of vines, and produce 80-90,000 bottles per year. The are staunchly against the use of barrique, which they have experimented with, but they only use Slovenian Botte (a lot of the newer botte in piemonte comes from Austria as it is cheaper, even from the more traditionally styled producers) and to a lesser extent Tonneau.

Looking out over Sori Paitin

With some Tonneau in the oldest part of the cellar.

2008 Dolcetto d’Alba “Sori Paitin”; [10-15,000 bottles produced from 30 year old vines, the wine spends at least 6 months in botte], sandy, mineral, plum, chocolate, a touch of alcohol, spice, blackcurrants. dusty, hard, sandy, crispness, racy acid but it never seems to take off. It seems to need a bit more bottle age. ***(*+)

2007 Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Campolive”; [5-6,000 bottles produced, the wine is aged in Slovenian botte], deep, herby, vanilla, pepper, spice, round, racy, zippy, plum, cherry, chocolate, coffee, cocoa, herby, eucalyptus, earth, brick, sandstone, nice but again the wood spice on the finish is a bit offputting. Green tea, macha, still pretty good. ****++

2006 Barbaresco “Sori Paitin”; tar, roses, plum, jam, strawberry, racy acid, cherry, underripe strawberry, smoke, flint, burnt matches, sandstone, soapstone, marble, delicate, concentrated, poised, precise fruit. Mint, menthol, fresh but not particularly lifted, gravelly, tension, linear, restrained, a touch of wood spice at the back end, soft tannins, nice, classy stuff. ****(**+?)

A jar of the Sori Paitin soils...

The wines at Paitin are clearly in a hugely traditional style, hard, tannic, backward, restrained and unforgiving if you don’t really know what Nebbiolo is all about. OK, all the wines made from Nebbiolo are pretty unforgiving in their youth, but these are particularly so. Certainly not for the faint hearted, but the Barbaresco from Sori Paitin, if it ever comes to life, will be an absolute stunner. Next up we travelled into (for me) the deepest and darkest unknown… into Canale in the DOCG called Roero, again made from 100% NEbbiolo but is probably more famous for its white wines, made from Arneis…

Fillippo Gallino

Fillippo makes wines from a large hillside winery in Canale, owning about 20 hectares of wines, and having first bottled his wines in 1972, he has continuosly received praise from the Gambero Rosso, the wines are of high quality, and here they keep things traditional, but as recently Fillippo’s son has taken over the winemaking (although the man himself always has the last word!), there has been an increased use of barriques and stainless steel for particular cuvees. We were treated to a very particular sort of lunch when we were here and they matched the wines well… which they should do, it is all local produce after all.

1sr, 2nd and eventual 3rd generation Gallino Winemakers...

A nice mix of Barrels in here...

2009 Roero Arneis DOCG; [100% Arneis, and the wine that has helped make Roero more well known], very floral, mineral, pebbles, stones, lemon, lime, zippy, racy, leaf, herbs, nettles, flinty, slate, elderflower, camomile, underlying nuttiness, seeds, underripe figs, citrus, easy and refreshing, pineapple, very good. *****

2008 Barbera d’Alba; [100% stainless steel, no oak used], ripe, full, round, fresh fruit and mineral nose, rock, flint, sandstone. Plum, raspberry, cherry, minerals, stones, pebbles, clay, roses, rosewater, rosebush. Tense, poised, herbs, roses, mineral finish. Very nice, fresh, balanced and easy. ***(**)

2008 Langhe Nebbiolo; [again no oak, 100% stainless steel], lifted, fragrant nose, roses, bramble, currants, plum, cherry, grassy, but powerful and deep. Racy, plum, tar, coffee, chocolate, forest fruits, poised, precise, herbs, mint, macha, fresh, soapsone, sandstone, rock, slate, flint, hugely mineral, plum, hints of tar, power but elegant, earth, soil, bramble. Balanced, menthol, black plum. Roses, tar, excellent wine, fresh and energetic… great tension and poise. ****(**+?)

2007 Barbera d’Alba “Elaine”; [this spends 6 to 8 months in botte], dark plum, currants, deep, concentrated, cassis, chocolate, coffee, cherry, minerals, iron, rust, pebbles, rock, roses, bramble, forest fruits, pepper, spice, plum, poised, slate, flint, rocks, bread, pain grille, poised, rounded acidity, herbs, mint. ****(*+)

2007 Langhe Nebbiolo “Licin”; [the same production as the Elaine], deeper, roses, tar, again poised, precise, bright and lively. Spice, tar, herbs, mint, wood, oak, roses, rosebush, rock, sandstone, pebbles, burnt matches, more structure, but elegant and poised. Racy, mineral, herbs, menthol, eucalyptus, really lovely and a big step up in quality over the straight Nebbiolo. ****(**++)

2007 Barbera d’Alba Superiore; [10-12 months in barrique, before spending another year in stainless steel], vanilla, fresh, deep, dark plum, chocolate, expresso, forest fruits, smooth and round but still zippy and poised. Doesn’t feel at all like 15.5% alc. Mineral, rocks, earth, wet clay, herbs, menthol, powerful but elegant, plum, strawberry, dusty and structured. Very very good, damsons, violets, hints of floral notes. *****(*+)

2006 Barbera d’Alba Superiore; herbs, minerals, softer and rounder, racy, zippy, tobacco, cedar, leaf, menthol, deep but poised, more tannin but it is softer. Mineral, rock, sandstone, gravel, earth, soil, plum, forest floor, forest fruits, damsons, violets. Eucalyptus, pepper, green pepper, more structure. Very nice, plum, tobacco, earth, mineral finish. *****(*+)

2007 Roero DOCG; [this spends one year in barriques, and a year in bottle, the legal production criteria for this is identical to Barbaresco], lifted, roses, powerful, tar, plum, cherry, vanilla, poised, menthol, rock, brick, sandstone, zippy, balanced, meat, blood, roses, rosebush, bramble. Concentrated, deep flavours, soft tannins, chili spice, wood, coffee, chocolate, macha, eucalyptus, wonderful balance. Power, complexity. Elegant, broad and balanced. ******(+?)

NV Birbet; [made from the Brachetto grape, it comes in at 4.5% alcohol, and is affectively a RED Moscato], fresh, crisp, plum, strawberry, easy, fresh, fun. Lovely little wine, raspberry, lemon, lime. Really nice, roses and perfume. *****

Fillippo handing over wine to his Danish Importer, our host on the trip...Birger!!

This visit, was a real eye opener, and showed that there is a lot more to Piemonte than simply Barolo and Barbaresco, when speaking of Nebbiolo. The price of these wines, although the quality is right up there with the best Barolo and Barbaresco is usually very good value. When talking of value the next producers does it in spades…

Fabrizio Battaglino

A very small producer making mainly Roero, they produce about 25,000 bottles from their 5 hectares of vines. Using barrique for Nebbiolo, and stainless steel for their Arneis, they might just be in terms of quality the cheapest producer in Italy if not the whole of Europe. The wines are superb, but the prices are even better. They also take the term garagiste to a whole different level. The Battaglinos only use their own vines. Fabrizio’s grandfather bottled his own wines, but his father sold the grapes to the local Co-ops. When Fabrizio took over the looking after of the vines in 1996, he built his parants a new house and started making his own wines. Although he lives in Alba, he produces his wines in his father’s garage (!!!) inside the Roero appelation, using clean and modern techniques.

Fabrizio with his Arneis... you'll have to excuse my wife!!!!

2009 Roero Arneis; smoke, flint, lemon, elderflower, richer and fuller, lemon, lime, citrus, flowers, camomile, floral, mineral, fresh, zippy, very nice. Nutty, salty undertones on the long finish, delicate but with balance. *****

2007 Barbera d’Alba “Munbel”; concentrated, vanilla, coconut, chocolate, wood, oak, plum, long, viscous, earthy and mineral. Nice zip to the palate, modern but very tasty. Serious, powerful, concentrated, herbs, menthol and eucalyptus. ***(**+)

2006 Langhe Rosso “Ancreus”; [80% Nebbiolo, 20% Barbera], earthy, shitty, mushroom, truffle nose, plum, cherry, racy and zippy, smoke, meat, flint, round, warm nose, mineral, fresh, crisp, deep, concentrated, racy, herbal minty notes, silky, a touch of unresolved wood that will come in time. Eucalyptus, plum and cassis. Long finish. ***(**+)

2006 Nebbiolo d’Alba “Vigna Colla”; subdued nose, tar, roses, plum, prune, meat, tar, rich, full, powerful but again with racy acidity. Powerful, structured, wood spice, iron fist, velvet glove, truffle, brick, mineral, rocks, pebbles, sandstone, soft tannins, rounded acid but still racy, menthol, matcha, eucalyptus. ***(**++)

2007 Nebbiolo d’Alba “Vigna Colla”; fresher, more open nose, sweet spice, elegance rather than power, truffle,  meat, blood, racier, more playful, open, more fruit, strawberry, cherry, earthy minerals, flint, smoke, chocolate, menthol, eucalyptus, soil, gravel. Very different charactar. Clearly they see barriques as a tool, and not a flavour imparter and let the grapes and vintage do the talking. ****(*++)

2007 Roero “Sergentin”; [spends 18 months in barrique, a quarter new, a quarter 1, 2 & 3 years old], roses, cherry, strawberry, spice, menthol, racy acid, pepper, spice, cinnamon, wood, vanilla, poised with good concentration, nutmeg, iron, rust, sandy, stony, rock, minerals, eucalyptus, menthol, matcha, earth, plum, floral and elegant. Very good. ***(***)

2006 Roero “Sergentin”; ripe, a touch of prune, roses, tar, forest floor, truffle, meat, fresh and racy, weightier and more structured, strawberry, plum, sandy, earthy, farmyard, blood, plum, round tannins, spice, pepper and oak, long long finish, eucalyptus, rocks, pebbles, very mineral, deep, long, broad, excellent stuff, high class, and surprisingly open considering the vintage, but it isn’t anywhere near mature yet. ****(**+)

It was so hot we moved tasting from outside to the garage...sorry...winery!

Fabrizio makes super wines, that are high quality. As high as Filippo Gallino’s if not better. And the best bit of it all is the price. Unbelievable value. Our jaws dropped when we heard the price… Birger laughed, he imports this lot too, and good on him. Hopefully, we will see these guys in more shops very soon, they really are fantastic wines, and our cheap enough to be house wines when in terms of quality they are serious and ageworthy. Super stuff. Next we were in for another treat, and an education although not necessarily a tasting in terroir!


Malvira is probably that producer that is taking Roero Arneis to the world and despite their large winery, are very much a boutique producer (although their straight white can be found in Waitrose) who look for typicity in their soils and make a number of different cuvees, all in relatively small productions, and the prices are usually very good. The hold 5 hectares of vines, 2 hectares of Arneis that only ever see the inside of a stainless steel tank, and 3 hectares of red grapes, with the majority being Nebbiolo, which only ever sees Tonneau. The vines are all fairly old.

Discussing the wines...

...before we drank them!

2008 Roero Arneis “Renesio”; [single vineyard plot], smoke, flint, deep, round, flowers, camomile, apples, lemon, lime, fresh, racy, mineral but with nice ripeness, slate, pebbles, wet stone, long lemon, slightly rich creamy finish. Concentrated, slightly nutty undertones, racy lively acid. ****(*+)

2005 Barbera d’Alba “San Michele”; [another single vineyard site, aged in tonneau], woodsy, spice, pepper, dark plum, racy acid, prickly, poised, vanilla, cassis, currants, minerals, herbs, eucalyptus, mint, menthol, strong earthy, gravelly charactar, black cherry, concentrated, serious, powerful wine, chocolate, Good with time on its side, chocolate, mocha, cherry. ***(**+)

2005 Roero Reserva “Trinita“; [25 year old vines, a single vineyard plot, DOCG],  spice, cedar, tobacco, roses, pepper, menthol, eucalyptus, cinnamon, nutmeg, rounded, concentrated, structured, coffee, tar, rich, full, black plum, minerals, rock, wild raspberry, sandstone, racy acid, grainy tannins, mineral, sandy, rocky, herby, roses, tar and wild raspberry on the finish, poised, precise and very lovely. ***(***+)

1999 Roero Superiore “Trinita” (en MAgnum); [at the time this was produced, Roero was a DOC, and thus the wine is a Superiore and not a Reserva], open, regal, blood, roses, bramble, rosebush, strawberry, cranberry, round, resolved, a touch of sous bois, forest floor, delicate, expressive, strawberry, herbs, mint, menthol, eucalyptus, minerals, rock, sandstone, still with structure and racy acid. Soft tannins, raspberry, cherry, plum, fresh, racy, poised, open but with plenty of time still in hand, rocks, soapstone, mocha, tobacco, iron, cedar, peppery, without the sweet spice. *****(*+)

A lovely laid back place to taste wines, and the quality is there, and an understanding of the their respective vineyards, make this a top notch producers, and arguably the benchmark for which all Roero Arneis needs to look to. Some lovely wines with real pedigree and typical Roero acidity. Next, it was to our final visit of the day, our token (but not really so) Barolo (??)

Eugenio Bocchino

A small husband and wife team (not to mention their trusty dog, Tom!), we arrived at their house, as oppose to the winery, and by golly gosh, it was a brilliant way to taste wines… in the setting sun, on the terrace, all that was missing was a very large Cuban Cigar, and lots of cash so that I could have walked away with some of their super wines. They fit somewhere between the modern and traditional here. They use oak, but don’t want to use too much new barrique. You could say a similar sort of producer in terms of style to Fabrizio Battaglino, but being in Barolo, La Morra, the charactar of the wines is very different.

The Dog that used to influence the labelling decisions!?!?!?!

See on the original label for the Nebbiolo d'Alba!

2008 Langhe Nebbiolo “Roccabella”; [the wine that had the label inspired by the dog, Tom], fresh, open, crisp, minerally, rock, gravel, roses, a touch of tar, structured, grainy tannins, powerful but racy (in a more regal, rounder way), herbs, soapstone, limestone, needs some time to fill out but it is approachable, roses, tar, gravel and strawberry on the finish. ****(*+)

2006 Langhe Rosso “Suo di Giacomo”; [60% Nebbiolo, 40% Barbera, this sees Malolactic fermentation take place in oak, and then spends two years in barrique, some old and some new], chocolate, cocoa, expresso, vanilla, wood, structured, powerful, fresh, plum, strawberry, mineral, earth, rock, herbs, mint, velvety, modern, young but very good. ***(***+?)

2005 Barolo “Lu”; [a traditional Barolo in that it is a blend of four vineyards], meat, tar, roses, earth, farmyard, rosebush, regal, structured, vanilla, cedar, tobacco, soft grainy tannnins, roses, mear, blood, leaves, herbs, balanced, spice, cinnamon, rosewater, cranberry, cherry, raspberry, wild red fruits, menthol, a hint of underlying sous bois, scorched earth, red sandstone… Excellent. ***(***+)

2006 Barolo “La Serra”; [from the famous single vineyard site, they have a tiny holding and whilst not cheap it is as good as the Veorzio that made this site famous], grassy, herbs, roses, rosebush, strawberry, cherry, plum, more depth, strong earthy mineral charactar, sweet spice, green pepper, roses, tar, poised, regal, very soft tannins, excellent balance, modern but uber tasty, sandstone, red brick, rock, roses, raspberry. Excellent. ***(****+?)

Nearly forgot to mention my wobbly glass! Perfect for dinner parties!!

Eugenio makes some great wines, and whilst they are certainly modern, they ooze class and certainly have a sense of place and mineral charactar. I would go so far as to say they are polished, but they are silky and sexy wines. Lets hope I can get more of them for myself… 😉 And thus it was off to the hotel for a short rest before another lovely dinner. Probably the second best meal of the entire trip.

L’Osteria del Vignaiolo

Whilst this didn’t hit the heights of Ristorante Bovio, (perhaps because the kitchen was watching the Champions LEague final and were more interested in celebrating Inter Milan’s goals, as the constant cheers from behind closed doors informed us… :-D) it is certainly of a high quality, with a very good wine list. The owner being a La Morra native, pretty much knows every single one of the producers in the area, and if you love La Morra Barolo, you need to visit this restaurant to find out who to discover next… we were served a traditional Piemontese cuisine and it was very nice.

2009 Langhe Arneis; Rocche Castamagna; smooth, elegant, lemon, lime, citrus, oyster shell, oyster sauce, round as oppose to taught, less tension much easier and smoother. Very pleasant, syrupy, nutty, and waxy. ****+

2007 Dolcetto d’Alba “Priavito”, Roberto Veorzio; dark plum, smooth, deep, concentrated, vanilla, pepper, serious, powerful, woody, spice, grainy tannnins. Dense, red plum, hard to get to grips with. Will it last, I’d like a bit more acid and a little less extraction. **(**+?)

2007 Barbera d’Alba “Goretta”, Fratelli Ferrero; minerals, black plum, chocolate, mocha, wild raspberry, fairly racy, rock, slate, pepper, chili, spice, nice acid, herbs, slate, burnt matches, pebbles, wet stone, black and red plum, structured, menthol, herbs. Nice and precise, this should get better with time. ***(**+)

2008 Langhe Nebbiolo, Cordero di Montezemolo; lifted, linear nose, roses, tar, strawberry, cherry, vanilla, minerals, earth, soil, round, minerals, plum, stones, pebbles, soft, approachable tannins, wild raspberry, redcurrants, slate, marble, iron ore, fresh, clean, fruit forward, earthy, herby, spicy finish. Very good. ****(*++)

2004 Barolo “Capalot”, Crissante Allessandria; earth, soil, mushroom, truffle, farmyard, tar, roses, deep, warm, complex, minerals, wet soil, forest floor/fruits, earth, funky but nice nose, strawberry, rock, sandstone, pebbles, raspberry, cherry, plum, structured, fresh, lively, concentrated, classically styled, very serious, regal wine, iron fist/velvet glove, wood, spice, pepper, but with freshness and elegance, chili, the oak needs to integrate a bit more, the nose is open and the palate lively. A finish of tar, strawberries, hay, musk, burnt matches, truffle, soil. Complex and concentrated but in need of a good few more years. ***(***+)

We were to visit Michele Allessandria at Crissante Allessandria the next morning, and after that wine, I was really looking forward to it, but first to bed as we had to pack for another long day the very next day.

A dieu…



  1. […] First steps in Roero […]

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