Cantina Terre del Barolo, DOCG Barolo, Piemonte, Italy, 2011
This wine is varietal nebbiolo, a variety that buds early and ripens late, needing the best southern exposures on steep slopes. It is thin, yet strong skinned. producing wines with high acid, high alcohol, and high tannin, but wth pale-medium hue and a prematurely browning rim.
DOCG ageing regs:
- for a normale like this wine, minimum 38 months, of which minimum 18 in wood, in traditional botti (typically Slavonian oak), 10-150hl, to avoid adding even more tannins to the wine and minimise oak character.
- for a riserva, minimum 62 months, of which minimum 18 in wood.
Barolo, 2 main styles, and a hybrid
- traditional – on the nose, potentially very complex, often shorthanded to tar and roses, but also damson, mulberry, dried fruits, violets, herbs, dark chocolate, and with increasing age leather, hummus, tobacco, mushroom and truffle; on the palate high acidity, high alcohol and very high tannins, which in the best wines are silky/velvety. The high level of tannins is necessary to facilitate the long ageing necessary for Barolos, protecting the wine by binding with oxygen molecules. Vinification includes open-top fermentors, relatively long maceration times, with long ageing to soften and integrate tannins, needing 10 years to show their best.
- more modern – an earlier, after about 4 years, drinking style, more international, fruitier, less austere, some using rotofermenters* and barriques, often with obvious new French oak, with an oaky-vanilla note.
- hybrid – some traditionalists use a more modern approach in the winery, e.g. gentler extraction through shorter pre-ferment maceration, tannins are alcohol soluble – so use a lower fermentation temperature; shorter fermentation time, and shorter post-ferment maceration on the skins, fermentation in stainless steel vats, use of rotofermenters (Viberti for example); and their Barolos are a compromise between the two styles.
*Rotofermenters are engineered on cement mixer lines, rotate one way and the skins and must are mixed, rotate the other and the contents are emptied to some other vessel. It is effective at extracting colour from thin-skinned varieties like pinot noir too, but great skill is needed in its operation, to avoid over-extraction.
DOCG Barolo can be declasssified to DOC Langhe Nebbiolo, for reasons of quality or to improve cash flow.
This wine: Produced by Cantina Terre del Barolo, a co-op of about 400 growers on 650ha of vineyard. Styles produced range from modern to traditional style; this wine is more of the modern style, varietal nebbiolo, natural cork closure, 14.5% abv, Waitrose, £18.79
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, pale intensity garnet, showing tears and an orange/brown hue at the rim.
Nose: clean on the nose, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas of tea rose, red cherry, red currant, and cranberry, then dried cranberry and red cherry, spice – cinnamon and clove, liquorice and sweet tobacco.
Palate: a dry wine, medium (+) acidity, medium (+) ripe fine-grained tannins, high alcohol, a full body, a seeming sweetness of fruit on the mid palate – sucrosity, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of red plum and red cherry, dried berries – cranberry and red currant, liquorice, sweet tobacco and dried herbs. A medium length with a clean finish and a slight bitterness on the end.
Quality: a good quality wine, acidity with ripe tannins are in balance with the fruit intensity and high alcohol, well-integrated oak, flavour concentration is modest, reflected in the medium length, which is disappointing given the decent complexity from oak and bottle aging.
Readiness for drinking/potential for ageing: can drink now but has potential for ageing. There is a good acid-tannin structure, has fruit, but concentration is lacking, so ageing potential is shortened, to say improvement over 2-3 years.