I’m fortunate to have met Alfredo and shared a glass with him before his passing, and to have been welcomed by the gracious Luciana. So when Luca claims, with a half-smile, that his mother married because hiring a winemaker was just so expensive, you only have to pause for a second before laughing along with him.
The history of Vietti and what the Currados have accomplished is rather well-known. Achievements range from being at the forefront of establishing the cru system, to flirtations with the modernist style (that thankfully were only flirtations, though they do continue to this day to working tirelessly to improve the recognition of the oft ignored ‘other grapes’ of Piedmont). One taste of Vietti’s Arneis, which admittedly has moved consistently towards a leaner, more mineral style, or the amazing Barbera Scarrone Vigna Vecchia and you’ll begin to understand.
Vietti has always been an important winery, and in many ways its importance seems out of proportion with its size. As I mentioned earlier, Vietti continues to be a family-run winery and while its portfolio is not inconsequential, it continues to produce better wines each year – perhaps even a bit less wine, with the production of the single vineyard Barolos rarely exceeding 500 cases and even the mainstay wines only produced in lots of a few thousand cases.
So why is Vietti so well-known and so important? As I mentioned, the early adoption of the cru system, predating even the laws that allowed for the early adoption of the cru system, has much to do with its resultant success. And the truth is, the family has been tirelessly marketing their wines in the U.S. for decades, literally. While it’s easy to dismiss a winery’s efforts at marketing, shouldn’t the wines sell themselves after all? We all know that that is incredibly hard and that it’s point scores that move wine anyway, and we are beginning to recognize the tenuous connection between quality and scores.
That’s not to say that scores should be disregarded, maybe discounted a bit to allow for stylistic differences. But when you have a winery that has established a decades-long residence at the top of the reviews, you probably should take notice – and that my friends, is exactly what we have done.
I’ve been following Vietti’s wines since the release of the 1982 Barolos and got my start thanks to Lou Iacucci’s Gold Star Wine and Liquor Store, a formative cauldron of heady wines and talk back in the day. I’ve continued to be a fan of Vietti’s wines even as father Alfredo passed the torch to son Luca beginning in 1988. Yes, the wines have changed swinging toward a greater use of oak before swinging back, slightly, to allow for a broad selection of techniques, each selected by Luca to help a vineyard and vintage to express itself.
So that brings us to the present. I’ve had many Vietti wines, certainly enough to make me confident that future purchases should be warranted, even if the prices some of the wines fetch have accelerated faster than my own, making the likelihood of an encounter less likely as one looks toward the future. Most recently I’ve had great experiences with the 1974 and 1978 Vietti Castiglione, the so-called village wine that serves as Vietti’s classic expression of Barolo. Among the few wines recently tasted with Luca was one of the latest releases, the 2006 Castiglione, a wine that at under $50 (sometimes even under $40!), makes for a great addition to any Barolo aficionado’s cellar.
If Barolo doesn’t float your boat, or if that is still more than you might feel comfortable paying, take a look at the rest of the Vietti lineup. With great wines across the board you can’t go wrong!
Click here for a slideshow of 5 Top Wines from Piedmont