Monday, August 7, 2017

Top-rated Barolo crus -- tranche #3: Cannubi, Gabutti, Parafada, Lazzarito, Marenca, and Rivette

Three of the foremost Barolo vineyard experts -- Renato Ratti, Alessandro Masnaghetti, and Antonio Galloni -- have each taken a shot at classifying the crus in the Barolo zone (I have shared the frameworks of the individual schemes in a prior post.). In this series I am providing an account of the top-rated crus as identified by these experts. In the first post, I presented the crus where there was full agreement among these experts. At least two of the experts had to have identified the cru as top-level for it to be covered in the second post. In this post I cover the top-level crus identified as such solely by Renato Ratti.

The crus rated as top-level by Ratti only are Cannubi (rated as Noteworthy by Galloni and Three Stars by Masnaghetti), Gabutti (rated as Outstanding by Galloni and Three Stars by Masnaghetti), Parafada (rated as Outstanding by Galloni and Four Stars by Masnaghetti), Lazzarito (rated similarly to Parafada by Galloni and Masnaghetti), Marenca (Outstanding by Galloni, Three Stars by Masnaghetti), and Rivette (same as for Marenca). It should be noted that, in his classification, Ratti treated Gabutti and Parafada as a hyphenated vineyard and similarly treated Marenca and Rivette. In today's nomenclature, these vineyards are separate MGAs. The characteristics of these crus are shown below.

Cannubi is a long, gradually sloping hill which extends northeast from the village of Barolo and is contained in its entirety within the namesake commune. According to the Marchesi di Barolo website, Cannubi hill is protected from storms and extreme weather by higher neighboring hills. Both Damilano and Marchesi di Barolo point to the uniqueness of the hill in that it sits at the convergence of the aforementioned Helvetian and Tortonian soil zones resulting in "grey-blue marls rich in magnesium and manganese carbonate that, on the surface, thanks to the air and the weathering, turn into grey-white marls" (Marchesi di Barolo).

Chiara Boschis' Pira e Figli was the first Cannubi estate to convert to organic farming, gaining its certification in 2014 (Labor of Love). But she was not content with practicing this only in her vineyard. She became an evangelist on Cannubi such that today fully 99% of the producers on the hill are organic.

I tasted the 2012 Barolo Cannubi on a visit with Chiara earlier this year. Cherry, plum, tar, and herbs were the hallmarks of this wine along with a waxiness and massive tannin structure. This wine will last for a while.

I tasted the 2013 Barolo Cannubi on a visit with Silvia Altare of Elio Altare. The wine was floral on the nose along with red fruit, spice, and blackpepper. Beautiful weight on the palate and excellent finish.

"We are not exaggerating when we say that Gabutti is the starting point of a long ribbon of vineyards along the side of the most prestigious hill in the municipality of Serralunga, and one of the most outstanding in the entire Barolo DOCG zone." (Petrini, A Wine Atlas of the Langhe). But this strong endorsement did not result in the elevation of this MGA to the uppermost ranks of the Masnaghetti and Galloni schemas. According to Petrini, in making the decision to designate Gabutti to the highest levels of his schema, Ratti was guided by "the widespread beliefs of growers in the area and by a long-established hierarchy that had taken root in the popular consciousness and was reflected in prices in the market."

The south-facing aspect, steep slope, and protection from the wind combine to render this MGA a prime location for the growth of Nebbiolo grapes. Soils are of the Lequio Formation with loose calcareous clay marls from the Langhian stage of the Miocene epoch.

Masnaghetti sees the beating heart of the MGA as the area between Parafada and Cascina Marianot where the southern exposure compensates for the relative lack of luminosity. The style of wines from that area range from "the rugged and rather classical tannic impact of of the Cappellano wines to the rougher Barolo of Franco Boasso, whereas the eastern side of the cru offers the flowing and floral style of Giovanni Sordo's Gabutti."

This vineyard is more uniform in its exposure that Gabutti or Lazzarito and can be seen as a bridge between those two MGAs (Masnaghetti). The Delizia plot, primarily owned by Fontanafredda, produces very high-quality wines from its "fairly shallow white clay and limestone marl" soils (Petrini).

The wines from Parafada are "less voluminous than Lazzarito and more refined than Gabutti" and are endowed with the vigor and presence on palate and nose that is the hallmark of a first-order wine (Masnaghetti).

A large vineyard in Serralunga d'Alba whose name can probably be traced back to an ancient hospital for Black Plague victims on the property. According to Masnaghetti, the vineyard can be divided into two parts:
  • Eastern slope -- smaller in size and less well known
  • Western slope -- can be further divided into the La Delizia and Lazzarito amphitheaters
Masnaghetti also references a < 2 ha plot lower down on the slope called Lazzairasco, an area with favorable south to southeast exposure and with excellent quality potential. Santa Caterina, on the southern boundary, like Lazzairasco, was absorbed by Lazzarito in 1990 during the township-mapping process.

A significant portion of the vineyard is owned by Fontanafredda but Ettore Germano and Vietti also farm plots there. Sergio Germano (Ettore Germano) and Luca Currado (Vietti) were both interviewed about the vineyard on a Vinous video. Sergio sees the main characteristics of the vineyard as the elegance and finesse that it imparts to the wine. The wine is strong with lean-textured tannins and a lengthy finish. The soil has a high limestone concentration but also has some beach-like sand which gives a "slim texture" to the wine.

Luca found the vineyard challenging; he farms it more with his stomach than with his palate. It provides good minerality, spiciness, and complexity to the wine and its amphitheater-like shape provides great exposure for the grapes.

I had the opportunity to taste the 2012 Lazzarito at the Vietti estate.

The 1.7 ha Vietti plot is SW facing and the 39-year-old vines are planted 4500 vines/ha. The 2012 Lazzarito had a nose of beautiful, rich red fruit with baking spices, black pepper, and a savoriness. Powerful wine with sweet red fruits dominating the palate.

The pronounced amphitheater of the Marenca vineyard provides the vines with excellent exposure to sunlight. The soil is a calcareous clay.

There is only one labeled wine wine originating from the vineyard -- produced by Luigi Pira -- but it is of high quality "with a structure which is among the deepest and most complex of the entire township" (Masnaghetti).

The vineyard sits at the foot of the inhabited area of Serralunga d'Alba and is immediately recognizable by the vine rows running vertically up the hillside rather than horizontally across the hill, as is the case for neighboring  vineyards.

According to Petrini, Rivette has always been regarded as an excellent location for growing Nebbiolo. The soil is a loosely packed marl and limestone mix and the quality of the grape are "beyond dispute." Petrini's description of the MGA is a little at odds with that of Masnaghetti's who states that, with the exception of a few small plots owned by Pira and Massolino, the remainder of the vineyard -- owned by Gaja -- is used for white grape production.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

No comments:

Post a Comment