Monday, 21 July 2014


The Ceretto family now own four wineries across Piedmont that collectively produce the best part of a million bottles a year from over 100 hectares of estate vineyards. Currently headed by Bruno and Marcello, the family winery’s future is already assured with the third generation of Ceretto family winemakers (in the form of Alessandro, Lisa, Roberta and Federico) already working in the wings.

The main Ceretto winery is near to Alba, with the Bricco Rocche and Bricco Asili wineries located in Castiglione Falleto and Barbaresco respectively.The Vignaioli di Santo Stefano winery is amongst the sandy hills of Santo Stefano Belbo.

Only traditional Piedmontese bottlings are really produced (although a varietal white wine made from Riesling grapes also sneaks into the Ceretto family’s range). Dolcetto, Barbera and Arneis form the basis of the Ceretto family range, with wines from Barolo and Barbaresco occupying the flagship positions.

Stylistically these wines lean towards the traditional, even if the quality of production is bang up to date.

Summary of Scores (Updated 29th June 2014)           

Ceretto Barolo “Brunate”
Ceretto Barolo
Ceretto Barbaresco "Bernadot”  
Ceretto Barbaresco
Ceretto “Piana” Barbera d’Alba
Ceretto Vignaioli di Santo Stefan” Moscato d’Asti

Reviews from June 2014

Ceretto “Brunate” Barolo DOCG (2009)
Matured in 50% new French oak and 50% in once used French oak, this Barolo “Brunate” from the Ceretto winery is a creamy and sophisticated Barolo that is already drinking extremely well, despite it’s relative youth. Aromas of red cherries and roses announce this wine, before a dry and red fruit orientated palate unfolds. Persistent flavours of hazelnut and subtle clove spice notes add depth and balance to the otherwise savoury palate of this Barolo, before the finish lingers for an age. 91 points.

Ceretto Barolo DOCG (2010)
The Ceretto family’s “entry level” Barolo is produced from Nebbiolo fruit sourced from a number of vineyard sites within the Barolo zone of production, before undergoing the same regime of maturation as the more prestigious single vineyard “Brunate” bottling above. More robustly structured than the “Brunate” bottling, this “basic” Barolo is also more direct in character. Obvious tobacco notes join the red cherry fruit of the nose, with a clear earthiness emerging from the mid-palate as it is tasted. Unlike some “young” Barolo, here the acidity is nicely in check. 89 points.

Ceretto “Bernadot” Barbaresco DOC (2010)
This “Bernadot” Barbaresco is probably the prettiest of the Ceretto wines that were tasted, with fragrant aromas of roses, wild raspberries and red cherries simply bursting from the glass as it is approached. Dry and medium to full bodied on the palate, subtle spice tones emerge as this wine develops, although tannins that are slightly more sappy than they should be detract at this stage. Still a very accomplished wine, this will reward cellaring. 89 points.

Ceretto Barbaresco DOCG (2011)
Sharing similarly appealing aromatics to the range-topping “Bernadot” bottling, this “entry level” Barbaresco from Ceretto is penalised by it’s youthful release date. Whilst the red fruit and gentle earthy tones you might expect in a good Barbaresco are present and correct, the prominent tannins detract from the pretty damson and cherry fruit notes. 86 points.

Ceretto “Piana” Barbera d’Alba DOC (2012)
Juicy and fresh is exactly what un-oaked Barbera is meant to be and is exactly what this “Piana” Barbera d’Alba is. Slightly under-ripe red cherry and plum tones define the nose, before a fleshy, plummy palate announces itself. The tannic extraction and acidity have been managed very well, all you really want is a little more flavour intensity and complexity. 86 points.

Reviews from April 2012

Ceretto “Vignaioli di Santo Stefano” Moscato d’Asti (2010)
Immediately from opening the fragrant and aromatic nature of this Moscato is apparent. Aromas of lychees, peaches and a more floral honeysuckle character burst from the glass. Similarly lovely on the palate, peach, apricot and lychee flavours float a top a beautifully smooth and creamy mousse. Light and fresh (thanks to the bright acidity that is in place) this Ceretto Moscato is hardly a profound wine (but then it is not intended to be). 85 points.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Ca del Bosco

Ca’ del Bosco is one of the best known wine producers located within the Franciacorta DOCG region of production, in Lombardy (Northern Italy). 

Production of single vintage Franciacorta began in 1979 and has gone from strength to strength since with seven different expressions of Franciacorta and more than 1.4million bottles in total now produced every year from the winery’s 150 hectares of vineyards. 

Always at the forefront of innovation in the region, the Ca’ del Bosco winery has now coined what it terms “Il Metodo Ca’ del Bosco” – an evolution of the “metodo classico” traditionally used to produce Franciacorta. This encompasses chilling grapes as soon as they are harvested, cleaning them using an “air-bubble bunch-washing system”, crushing and fermentation in an anaerobic environment, gravity (only) transfer between the different steps of vinification and specially designed disgorgement and bottling lines (again designed to minimise the ingress of oxygen). 

Despite all the modern technology though, the Franciacorta of Ca’ del Bosco still reside on their lees in the historic underground cellars (for a period significantly longer than that exercised by many of their competitors). 

The “Cuvee Annamaria Clementi” (named after the mother of Ca’ del Bosco’s founder) today heads the Ca’ del Bosco range, with “Saten”, Rosé and non-vintage Franciacorta also produced. 

Quality is excellent across the Ca’ del Bosco range, with the “Cuvee Annamaria Clementi” amongst the best Franciacorta produced.

Summary of Scores (Updated 29th June 2014)           

Ca del Bosco “Cuvee A. Clementi” Franciacorta
Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Franciacorta Brut
Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Franciacorta Dos. Zero
Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Franciacorta Saten
Ca del Bosco Chardonnay

Reviews from June 2014

Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Saten, Franciacorta DOCG (2009)
Franciacorta labelled with the “Saten” moniker are bottled at slightly lower pressure in order to generate an even more subtle and creamy mousse and this Ca del Bosco bottling is an impressive example of the sophistication of texture that this technique can generate. Understated notes of hazelnut and cider apple mingle with flavours of fresh white bread and almonds, in a palate that is as long as it is velvety smooth. This is an extremely difficult wine to dislike! 90 points.

Reviews from January 2014

Ca del Bosco “Cuvee Annamaria Clementi” Brut, Franciacorta DOCG (2004)
A notably intense lemon colour in the glass this 2004 “Cuvee Annamaria Clementi” Franciacorta from Ca del Bosco offers aromas of lemon zest and white peach, with nuances of pine nuts, honey and candied pineapple lending complexity. A clear saline minerality defines the palate – as does the prodigious length. Lemon and the same developmental nuances as those expressed on the nose float atop a mousse of distinctive and wonderfully sophisticated character. Overall this is one of the most beautifully balanced wines that The Independent Wine Review has come across for some time. 94 points.

Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Brut, Franciacorta DOCG (2008)
Ca del Bosco’s “Vintage Collection” Brut sits in the middle of an extensive Ca del Bosco range of Franciacorta and consists of 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero and 15% Pinot Bianco grapes that were harvested from the winery’s estate vineyards. 22 still base wines were fermented in small oak barrels and after 40 months of maturation “sur lie” this bottling was disgorged and sealed.  A delicate nose displays notes of custard cream and lemon zest before a pure, long and very subtle palate is revealed. Flavours of lemon, pomelo and hints of biscuit float atop of a cushioning and creamy mousse that lends a delectable texture and mouthfeel. 91 points.

Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Dosage Zero, Franciacorta DOCG (2008)
This Ca del Bosco “Vintage Collection” Franciacorta is one of the success stories of zero dosage winemaking. 65% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir and 13% Pinot Bianco, this “zero dosage” Franciacorta offers aromas of waxed lemons and a hint of biscuit on the nose, before segueing into a palate that is extremely refined and impressively long. Lemon and chalky mineral notes define this wine initially on the palate, before the slightly richer biscuit notes of the nose re-emerge. The mousse is extremely cosseting and it is this (along with the subtlety of flavour exhibited) that make this “Vintage Collection” Dosage Zero Franciacorta quite so successful. 89 points.

Ca del Bosco Chardonnay, Terre di Franciacorta DOC (2005)
Produced from Chardonnay grapes sourced from seven different vineyards (with fermentation of each batch of grapes separately in small oak barrels for 9 months before combination) this 2005 Ca del Bosco Chardonnay is an intense lemon colour with hints of gold (a product of fermentation and maturation in oak). Creamy with endless nuances of white peach, almond and hazelnut, a little bottle age has allowed this still Chardonnay to develop well and to be drinking extremely well at the moment. 93 points.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Az. Agr. Provenza

Azienda Agricola Provenza was founded in 1967 by Walter Contato as a small (12 hectare) wine estate not far from the shore of Lake Garda, in the Lugana DOC zone of production. Today Azienda Agricola Provenza has grown to become one of the most important producers in the region, with 120 hectares of vines and an annual production of around 1.5million bottles per year.

Now run by Fabio and Patrizia Contato, the focus at Az. Agr. Provenza is very much upon producing top quality grapes and then doing everything possible in the winery to maximise how the characters of those top quality grapes are expressed. Early and ongoing investment in technology has played a large part in the success of Az. Agr. Provenza, with all grapes now being sorted by computer and cryomaceration techniques being used for a number of the white wines produced.

White wines bottled under the Lugana DOC classification are the major focus for Az. Agr. Provenza (with more than half a dozen still and sparkling variations produced), although there is also a massive range of rosé and red wines produced beyond those Lugana too.

Wines of particular note in the Az. Agr Provenza range include the “Selezione Fabio Contato” Garda Classico and the “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE Lugana, although quality across the range is impressive (as the notes below attest).

Summary of Scores (Updated 29th June 2014)           

Provenza “Sel. Fabio Contato” Garda Classico
Provenza “Negresco” Garda Classico
Provenza “Ca Maiol” MOLIN Lugana
Provenza “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE Lugana
Provenza “Maiolo” Lugana
Provenza “Ca Maiol” Lugana Spumante Brut
Provenza “Sebastian” Brut Spumante

Reviews from May 2014

Provenza “Ca Maiol” Lugana DOC (2013)
Az. Agricola Provenza’s most widely available white is rarely a disappointment and in fact this 2013 bottling is the highest scoring iteration of this wine ever to be tasted by The Independent Wine Review. Lemon, pear and saline hints define the nose, before additional notes of grapefruit and a chalky minerality emerge on the palate. Typically somewhat simpler, in this vintage this entry level “Ca Maiol” Lugana really does offer an appreciable level of complexity, coupled with great levels of flavoural intensity and balance. 89 points.

Provenza “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE Lugana DOC (2013)
Produced from the fruit of a selection of older vines than the basic “Ca Maiol” Lugana, this “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE bottling was produced in order the highlight the difference that vine age can make to a wine’s character. More mineral and restrained on the nose and notably leaner and more green fruit orientated on the palate, there certainly is a difference in character between the two wines, with this PRESTIGE bottling less expressive now, but probably offering greater scope for evolution over the next year or two in bottle. 89 points.

Provenza “Ca Maiol” MOLIN Lugana DOC (2013)
Vinified with the aim of evoking the history of winemaking in Lugana through it’s taste, this “Ca Maiol” MOLIN Lugana is substantially different in character to either of the above wines. Red apple and almond notes emerge on the nose, with an obvious salty extract underpinning lemon pith and grapefruit flavours on the palate. Fleshier and a little less direct in character, this “Ca Maiol” MOLIN Lugana caresses the palate as it slowly fades. 89 points.

Provenza “Ca Maiol” Lugana Spumante Brut DOC (2008)
Classic method sparkling wines made from Trebbiano di Lugana grapes are rarely seen outside of the region of Lugana itself, which makes sampling this “Ca Maiol” Spumante from Az. Agr. Provenza a rare treat. 18 months of lees aging have produced a wine that offers aromas of crusty white bread and hints of cider apple as it is approached, before seguing into a crisp palate of lemon cream, bread and salty mineral characters. Delicately poised and notably crisp, this is a top drop indeed! 90 points.

Provenza “Sebastian” Lugana Spumante Brut DOC (2008)
Leaner and less expressive than the “Ca Maiol” Lugana Spumante, this “Sebastian” bottling is named after the former owner of one of the oldest farmhouse on the Provenza estate (Sebastian Maiolo). Produced using the Charmat method of sparkling wine production (rather than the Methodo Classico of the “Ca Maiol”), this is a crisp and mineral quaffer (based around flavours of grapefruit and a hint of almond) that is accomplished, without offering the final word on flavoural complexity or intensity. 88 points.

Reviews from May 2013

Provenza “Ca Maiol” Lugana DOC (2012)
A pale lemon colour in the glass, this 2012 “Ca Maiol” Lugana makes up for an anaemic appearance with bright aromas of apple and lemon bursting from the glass. Clean, crisp and zesty on the palate, this “Ca Maiol” Lugana offers a good purity of flavour and mineral salinity into the finish. This is the least expensive Provenza Lugana produced and the most widely available (it accounts for around 30% of the Provenza winery’s entire production each year). 87 points.

Provenza “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE Lugana DOC (2012)
Very similar in colour to the “basic” “Ca Maiol” listed above, this “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE offers the same lemon zest and apple aromas, but with further complexities of blossom, almond and a clear salinity on the nose. Slightly more richly textured and with a greater depth of flavour than the non-PRESTIGE “Ca Maiol”, this wine is sophisticated and beguiling on the palate with notes of lemon, meringue, apple and almond beautifully combined with Lugana’s signature minerality. This is a fantastic wine. 93 points.

Provenza “Ca Maiol” MOLIN Lugana DOC (2012)
Produced from a different selection of Turbiana grapes to the “Ca Maiol” PRESTIGE listed above, this MOLIN Lugana is named after Az. Agr. Provenza’s old cellar and is intended to evoke the history of winemaking in Lugana through its taste. 48 hours of cryomaceration is used to encourage a structured and perfume styled of wine to emerge. Despite sharing a clearly family identity with the other Provenza wines tasted here, the aromatic profile of this MOLIN Lugana is slightly more languid, with aromas of white peach, wild flowers and lemon zest emerging slowly and with good density from the glass. On the palate hints of grapefruit join the lemon zest and saline minerality of the Provenza winery’s other wines. More than accomplished. 90 points.

Reviews from December 2012

Provenza “Selezione Fabio Contato” Garda Classico DOC (2008)
Dry and medium-to-full-bodied, this 2008 Provenza “Selezione Fabio Contato” Garda Classico is not a blockbuster red but instead offers a sense of persistence and effortless class which is thoroughly enticing. It is the darker fruits that form the basis of this wine, with dark cherries, blackberries and plum beautifully interwoven across the base of the palate. Graduating towards tobacco, clove and graphite as it develops, there is huge persistence too. Finely grained and well integrated tannins lend a certain sense of nobility. 91 points.

Provenza “Negresco” Garda Classico DOC (2009)
Medium-to-full-bodied in the mouth, this 2009 Provenza “Negresco” Garda Classico is persistent, structured and well balanced. Ripe cherry and plum flavours are intertwined with a prickling clove spice that breaks through from the mid-palate. Tightly grained and well resolved tannins provide an almost textural quality to this 2009 Provenza “Negresco” Garda Classico, with the merest hint of prune also appearing in the dry and