As I tasted through the wines of the various villages of Barolo this past May, I looked forward to those of Castiglione the most. Yes, it's true. While I love so many wines from the region, the wines from these tightly clustered vineyards have tended to give me the clearest indication of a vintage's quality in a tasting like this. Being at the center of the region, Castiglione tends to benefit from the weather, or conversely show signs of a vintage's difficulty in those vintages where challenges arise.

These are wines that can exhibit the best attributes of Barolo: the fruit of La Morra, the structure of Monforte, the intensity of perfume of Serralunga. 2006 was no exception, with wines that exhibited all the signs of the vintage: big fruit married to important structure, with all the signs of fine ripeness. But even here, where the wines still tend to be somewhat soft and elegant, I was struck by the imposing quality of the wines. If nothing else, the wines of Castiglione perfectly illustrated the depth and power that 2006 Barolo promises to deliver. Castiglione Falletto

67 distinct vineyards covering 136 hectares/336 acres or 7.5% of total Barolo vineyards

Only a tiny sliver of Castiglione’s vines are planted on Tortonian soils, the remaining being planted in the lighter, more limestone-rich Helvetian soils that dominate the eastern half of the Barolo region.

Lying upon the boundary between the two regions, Castiglione, as well as Barolo, benefits the most from this mixing of soils. The resulting wines tend to retain some of the forward fruit found in La Morra, backed up with a stiffer, more age-worthy structure. These are generally still rather full-bodied and fruit-driven for Barolo, but begin to show some of the stern edges upon which Barolo’s reputation is based.

Wines from Castiglione tend to be quite aromatic, perhaps the most perfumed of all the communes, and offer a finely balanced drinking experience.

Vineyards of note:

Bricco Boschis
Monprivato
Villero
Rocche
Fiasco
Montanello

Producers of note:

Brovia
Scavino
Vietti
Cavallotto
Giuseppe Mascarello
Ceretto



2006 Barolo of Castiglione Falletto

Disclaimer: These wines were tasted blind in a mass tasting of about 80 wines over four hours. These are simply first impressions of these wines. Being young Barolo, and from a tough vintage, these were difficult wines to analyze. My notes should be treated as a simple starting point and these notes are not meant to be definitive in any way.

A


Vietti "Rocche" -- Nice nose, floral fresh rose, touch of herbs, soil, a bit of sour meat, poppy seeds, rich and supple, nice purity to the fruit but it’s a bit dull feeling. Liquory, savory and deep, needs some time to pull itself together, lovely crisp tannins, nice fruit-sweetness edge, good finish, nice power. Should develop some elegance.

Oddero "Villero" -- Herbal, high-toned, hint of caramel, malty, Smithfield ham, Milky Way, lovely entry, cool if a bit compressed, mouth-filling yet fresh and light. Dark fruit flavors, muscular, deep inner-mouth perfumes of dried herbs, seeds, and fading spice, lovely intensity with burnished cherry fruit lurking, spicy finish, rich licorice tones. 

B+

Livia Fontana -- A bit funky, tarry spice, dark strawberry seeds, a bit of bologna, very aromatic, musky and masculine. Rich in the mouth, polished and round, soft too, with a nice core of bitter wild berry fruit, easy styled but well done. Real flavor intensity, nice finish, warm, lightly spiced, simple, a bit hot but with good purity.

Tenuta Montanello "Montanello" -- Bony, a bit dirty, soft with a touch of VA, giving needed lift, a touch of Bosco, very clear, very slightly herbal, less ripe fruit, red currant fruit. Clean and precise, bright acidity, slightly astringent tannins, bright in the mouth, a bit front-loaded, clean finish, very bright, piquant acid and tasty tannins.

Franco Conterno "Vigna Pugnane" -- Sweetish nose, baked goods, intense, sweet tarry, fennel, pollen, complex, gains some woody spice, rich and soft on entry. Nice acid, a bit blocky on the palate, lacks precision with good fruit, nice clear tannins, a bit stemmy, a bit apple seedy, a bit roast beefy, lots of fruit, good length. Will improve.

Oddero "Rocche di Castiglione" -- Lovely bright nose, melon, cool red fruits, fresh wild flowers, shoe-store leather, bologna, flat entry, soft, needs acid. Soft, plush tannins, coffee freshly roasted on the palate, dark fruit, nice bitter herb vein runs through it, rich, powerful, and perhaps just youthful, but a bit soft.

Monchiero "Rocche" -- Fresh soil, fresh greens, very fresh nose, touch of chalk and camphor, slightly hung game, touch of white pepper, touch of tomato. Lovely wine, rich, ripe fruit, deep herbal vein, cool, precise, small grained tannins, bitter soils edges all the pieces to come together, lots of tannins.

B

Francesco Sobrero "Ciabot Tanasio" -- Sweet, so herbal, fresh, really nice candied freshness, quite fruity, wild raspberries, fresh, cool and crisp. Easy-drinking style, lovely clear fresh fruit, light, brisk, crisp tannins, balanced, some finesse here, good length. Simple but fine.

Cavalier Bartolomeo di Borgogno Dario "Solanotto Altenasso" -- Nice liquory fruit, strawberry, strawberry seeds, tar, floral extract, rich, powerful, slightly jammy and warm, nice texture. Soft, flannely, warm, spiced, earthy spice, dark cherry fruit, clear, lovely edges of earth and almost medicinal herb, a touch minty, menthol.

Brovia "Rocche" -- Seared fruit, closed-ish, not showing much, but what’s here appears to be fresh and balanced if a touch jammy. Big fruit, dry fruit, not sweet, a bit matte in the mouth, savory, woodsy tea tones, drying, a bit bitter, but long and complex finale. Will improve.

B-

Cavallotto "Bricco Boschis" -- A bit cooked, jammy, spicy, rich and masculine, musky floral tones, nice ripe green herbal tones are subtle but offer some contrast. Soft in the mouth, a bit extracted, sticky almost, muddy on the palate, tannins are a bit soft, nice dark yet indistinct fruit, finish is short and much of the same.

Boroli "Villero"
 -- Rainwater, chalk, clear fruit, sweet tarry licorice, roast raspberry fruit, big sweet fruit. Nice background tones of rosehip and sandalwood, quite upright in the mouth yet soft, dry and shallow finish.

Roccheviberti "Rocche di Castiglione" -- Big, milky, sweet, floral, rose and orange-scented, extracted in the mouth but still round and soft. Lots of coffee bitterness, a bit slick, nice fruit flavors though, cherry fruit, a touch of lozenge, spicy backend, extracted finish, a bit blocky but not bad.

Livia Fontana "Villero" 
-- Stinky, dried lime peel, oyster shell, some espresso steam, sour red fruits, rhubarb, great height and complexity if a bit primitive. Soft, rich, polished, really quite soft and disappointing, some elegance though, bitter cherry fruit is subtle and soft.

Cordero di Montezemolo "Enrico VI" -- Soft, lightly herbal, strawberry-fresh, some raw wood and raw meat, touch of baking spice, softish on entry, velvety fruit, nice savory tones then some woody sweetness. Indistinct a bit on the mid-palate but with decent acids, very soft tannins, shallow fruit but with nice raspberry tones.

C+


Giacomo Fenocchio "Villero" -- Slightly smoky, candied fruit, candied watermelon rind, candied blood orange, moderately big, sweetly fruity. A bit chewy, a bit dense and matte, feels a bit candied in the mouth, dry and medicinal finish.

C
-

Giacosa Fratelli “Vigna Mandorlo’
-- Sweet, a bit candied heavy, dull, some celery seed, fat, dull and uninteresting.