Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Vietti Barolo Castiglione DOCG (2007)

The Vietti family first began growing grapes within the part of Piedmont that gives birth to Barolo in the middle of the 19th century. However, it wasn’t until 1919 that patriarch Mario Vietti began releasing wines made from the family grapes under the Vietti name. Originally a varied family farm (with olives and agriculture as well as grapes), Mario Vietti oversaw a transformation of the land on which the Vietti family worked, so that by the time of succession, the Vietti family were only involved in grape growing and wine production.

Run by Alfredo Currado from 1952 (Luciana Vietti’s husband – only deceased in 2010), Vietti began to build a reputation for high quality and was one of only two producers to rescue the grape “Arneis” during the 1970s. Since 1990, Luca Currado (Alfredo’s son) took on an increasing role in the Vietti winery and has remained the senior winemaker since his father’s death.
Despite the fact that the Vietti winery became widely known as a result of the work undertaken with the Arneis grape, it has always been the range of Vietti Barolos that has formed the pinnacle of the Vietti range of wines. Today owning 35 hectares of vineyards, the Vietti winery is the only producer of Barolo to own land in all eleven of the communes permitted for Barolo production. Producing no fewer than five different Vietti Barolos (the Vietti Barolo Castiglione, the Vietti Barolo Rocche, the Vietti Barolo Lazzarito, the Vietti Barolo Brunate and the Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero), this Vietti Barolo Castiglione represents the entry point to a substantial range of Vietti Barolo.

100% Nebbiolo (as is required of all Barolo by Italian law) this Vietti Barolo Castiglione is a blend of grapes selected from family owned Vietti vineyards in Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo and Novello. The Vietti Nebbiolo vines in these vineyards are seven to thirty five years of age.

After picking, the Nebbiolo grapes that make up this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione were gently pressed, before being passed into stainless steel tanks where a fermentation of 15 days in duration occurred. After fermentation of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione was complete, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione was then passed into oak casks for 24 months aging (prior to the 2010 vintage all Barolo must have received 24 months in oak prior to release, after the 2010 vintage this legal requirement for Barolo was reduced to 18 months). Following this time, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione was added back into stainless steel tanks for blending for around 8 months prior to bottling.

With Nebbiolo a slow ripening grape and one which can be particularly susceptible to climatic conditions during the growing season, the weather experienced by the south and south-western areas of the Barolo DOCG zone of production (from which the grapes for this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione are drawn) will have been key in determining the quality of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. As it happened, 2007 was an extremely unusual vintage in Barolo, with the growing season starting significantly earlier than normal (around four weeks early in most parts), but with grapes spending around 3 weeks longer than average on the vines before picking.
In relation to this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione, the commune of Barolo (from which a portion of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is drawn) typically produces elegant and approachable wines (even when young) although this will likely be balanced by the portion of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione that hails from Monforte a’Alba that is known for producing more structured expressions of Barolo. How the Vietti winery dealt with a late, but heavy series of hailstorms that affected the south of the Barolo zone of production will also have been key to how this Vietti Barolo Castiglione from the 2007 vintage fares.

Examining the bottle of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione, one can certainly say that it is particularly aesthetically pleasing. An embossed, weighty and low-shouldered bottle is adorned with a brightly coloured label. The cork of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is real and appears tightly grained and of good quality. Barolo is known as a wine that can be capable of extended of aging (although perhaps the 2007 vintage of Barolo should not be considered quite as age-worthy as some other recent vintages) although this cork looks as if it would withstand extended cellaring should one desire to put a few bottles away in good conditions.

In the glass, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is clear (i.e. non-faulty), and shows a garnet hue of moderate intensity. The Nebbiolo grape is known for the discolouration that occurs with bottle and oak aging and this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione certainly shows a significant degree of rusticity at the rim of the wine as a result of two years in oak and subsequent bottle age. The alcohol content of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is relatively easy to spot, with the legs of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione prominent on the side of the glass when swirled. The quoted abv of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is 14.5%. Most Barolo in the 2007 vintage showed 14-14.5% abv.

On the nose, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is clean (i.e. non-faulty) and pronounced in its fragrance. Red fruit is the prominent aroma of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione (red cherry and a little redcurrant), although oak derived vanilla notes, notes of candied fruit (raisins and prune) and aromas of roses all add complexity and interest. A comparatively fragrant nose hints at both the 2007 Barolo vintage’s initial warmth and the inclusion of a parcel of fruit from the commune of Barolo in this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione.
In the mouth, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is dry, full-bodied and long. Red fruit and oak characteristics are particularly well balanced (something which cannot be said of all wines in the 2007 Barolo vintage - which has seen the fruit of some wines overpowered by cedar notes and gripping oak derived tannins). Those candied fruit notes from the nose of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione overlay the red fruit and oak as they pass on a structured but elegant journey through the palate over well resolved tannins and a good level of acidity that nonetheless remains in balance. For sure this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is a wine with an obvious structure, however it never overpowers the fruit notes it is there to support.

Overall, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is a particularly accomplished Barolo. In a Barolo vintage that many winemakers have referred to as difficult and even unique, Vietti have created a Barolo in the form of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione that has retained balance and elegance and have crafted a Barolo that is also suitable for drinking earlier than many wines from within this zone of production and vintage. Traditionalists may find the oak influence of this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione a little sweet, however it is this very characteristic (along with the delicacy of those candied fruit notes) that makes this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione so approachable and enjoyable in the first place. Often approachability comes at the cost of complexity, although this is not the case when it comes to this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione.

£30 for a bottle certainly does not make this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione an inexpensive purchase, however in the context of the majority of Barolo, this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is less expensive than much of the competition. Not only that, but this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione offers quality over and above what might normally be seen at this price level in Barolo.

Traditional food pairings for this 2007 Vietti Barolo Castiglione include hard cheeses, rich stews and game.
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Vietti Barolo Castiglione DOCG (2007)

Score: 89/100 – A Barolo that is approachable now yet also accomplished.

Value for Money: 9/10 – This Vietti Barolo Castiglione is accomplished beyond its price of £30 per bottle
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