GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Ascheri: Making Bra proud!

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 10, 2008.

Cantina Giacomo Ascheri

Wines reviewed:

2007 Cristina Ascheri Gavi di Gavi 86pts
2005 Ascheri Podere di Montalupa Bianco (Viognier) 86pts
2007 Ascheri Dolcetto d’Alba Nirane 87pts
2007 Ascheri Dolcetto d’Alba Podere di Sorano San Rocco 90pts
2007 Ascheri Barbera d’Alba Fontanelle 88pts
2006 Ascheri Nebbiolo d’Alba Bricco San Giacomo 89pts
2005 Ascheri Montalupa Langhe (Syrah) 87pts
2004 Ascheri Barolo Vigna dei Pola 90pts
2004 Ascheri Podere di Sorano Barolo 93pts
2004 Ascheri Costa & Bricco Barolo 92pts

I really did not know what to expect when I made my appointment at Cantina Giacomo Ascheri. I had tried the wines only a few times and knew that this family operation had both an Osteria and Albergo in the city of Bra. Before I go into more detail regarding the Cantina and wines I’d like to spend just a few words on these ancillary endeavors.

Both the Osteria and Albergo share the grand courtyard, in fact so does the winery nestled as it is under the Albergo, of the Ascheri property that removes one from the fairly bustling city of Bra. In the sanctuary that this courtyard creates one can enjoy the honest and delicious fare that the Osteria Murivecchi provides. My typical meal was delicious and included wonderful gnocchi. It is a perfect way to ease into a visit at the Cantina.

While I did not stay at the Albergo it seems to be a thoroughly modern building that is clean and bright yet so well integrated into it’s setting as to be unobtrusive. The Osteria and relaxing courtyard as well as convenient off-street parking are good reason to consider it for your next visit to the region.

I did not drive to Bra to talk about the hospitality business. I was here for the wines. Ascheri has a very limited foothold in the US market and that is a shame. This family business, ably run by the imposing, genteel and fluent in English Matteo Ascheri, has a long history in the region. While originally from La Morra the family relocated to Bra in the 1880’s to be closer to the vital market of Turin which was reached via the railroad through Bra.

Wine was generally bottled in large demi-johns for trade in those days and, in fact, Ascheri did not begin bottling their own wine for sale until 1958. While much has changed during the intervening years the dedication to making a natural wine that is expressive of it’s place has remained as the guiding principal of Ascheri.

While the equipment and some techniques might seem at first blush to be those of a modernist it would be wrong to classify Ascheri thusly. There are certainly some avant-garde elements here. Who else in Piemonte is bottling Viognier and Syrah for example? The percentage of small and new wood has been reined in here though many of the wines are marked slightly by the spicy tones of fseasoned oak. The raw material, the purity of the wine is never compromised though. The line-up here had its high and low points but the deep understanding and history Matteo is trying to convey with each bottle impressed me.

2007 Cristina Ascheri Gavi di Gavi

A bit doughy still on the nose though with assertive notes of smoky quartz, lime, and hints of green floral/clover notes. This has a silky texture though the ripe fruit rounds out with air and is well supported by the bright acids. The fruit is a bit earthy/dried/waxy toned and while the acid offers nice cut this is pretty weighty. The flavor profile is a bit simple yet with good intensity and has a nice magnesium mineral note on the longish finish which ands on a grapy fruit note. Perfectly fine wine 86pts

2005 Ascheri Podere di Montalupa Bianco

This is a dream wine for Matteo who feels that the Rhone varieties are well suited for cultivation in Piemonte. These vines in particular come from a sandy hill in Roero. This is a “white suitable for ageing 10-12 years” says Matteo. To add a bit of complexity and structure to the wine a quarter is fermented and aged for 4 months in new barrique. The remainder sees only stainless.

The nose is intensely terpene at first as the new wood is really very evident, slowly honeysuckly, nettle and green fruits emerge and with time the terpene notes are subsumed in classic peach, very ripe pineapple, and vanilla honey tones. Weighty and plush in the mouth with a full, viscous feel. Honeyed apon entry with slightly sweet roasted nut tones, roasted pecans, a touch of Campari and red fruits emerge on the mid-palate which grows more under-ripe apricotty and pineapply with air. The finish offers up a bit of almond milk and quince as well as a touch of gummy bear yellow fruits but is long and even shows a touch of tannin. I have never been much of a fan of Viognier and this is just not my cup of wine but it is complex and intriguing today and will be interesting to taste down the road. 86pts

2007 Dolcetto d’Alba Podere di Rivalta Nirane

Fruit from Verduno, sees 7-8 days on the skins and is aged 100% in stainless steel.

Offering up a pure and slightly spicy nose of cut plums, nuanced black pepper and a flourish of exotic floral tones this is attractive. In the mouth there is great freshness though the wine is a touch matte with good acids and underlying acids supporting earthy dark plummy fruit that also has a peppery edge. Laid back and easy drinking with a crisp finish full of plum skins and a hint of lingonberry. This is a touch young but is very appealing for it’s fresh, pure unadulterated fruit. 87pts

2007 Dolcetto d’Alba Podere di Sorano San Rocco

Fruit from Serralunga, 8 days on the skins
then aged in old Slavonian oak for about 8 weeks.

This has a decided note of baking spice on the nose with an underlay of roasted herbs and earth over which there is fresh black raspberry fruit. This has a touch of milkiness on the nose and seems a touch tight. Big and lively in the mouth with great acids and really fine tannins. Unusually focused for Dolcetto with a deep mineral vein running from start to finish that supports the frutti di boschi character. The acids add a citrussy dimension and the finish reveal a touch of florality before the tannins pop, closing in on the fruit a bit. The great acids wine the battle on the finish drawing out the fresh fruit flavors and revealing that persistent mineral vein. I could d drink a bottle of this and boy is it food friendly! 90pts

2007 Podere di Rivalta Barbera d’Alba Fontanelle

Fruit from Verduno, 10 days on the skins then aged 6 months in Slavonian oak, 25% new

Classic notes of violet, potting soil and sweet fruit greet the nose. Turning a touch cedary as it breathes the fruit also gains a bit of focus turning towards black currant. This is soft and layered on entry with tons of sweet fruit. Good acidity and soft tannins are subsumed in the fruit though with time one can sense the tannins, gentle though they seem, are a touch angular. This offers nice cut with a masculine feel to balance out its very fruity nature. Notes of tobacco and wood spice balance the red currant tones and lead to a fresh and bright finish with good length and a final of menthol and toast notes. Very approachable and with a few months in the bottle this should integrate well. 88pts

2006 Podere di Rivalta Nebbiolo d’Alba Bricco San Giacomo

Fruit from Verduno, 10 days on the skins then aged 6 months in Slavonian oak, and 6 months in stainless. Made in a “pinot noir” style!

Slightly jammy raspberry fruit on the nose is light and bright with herbal top notes and intriguing nuances of leather, licorice, baking spices and apple pie. A bit dense on entry but the excellent acidity freshens the mouth. The tannins are wonderful, bright and crisp and very well balanced giving the wine a gentle elegant feel. The dark Nebbiolo fruit is faceted with a black spice edge and grace notes of wintergreen mint. This is youthful and ever so astringent but I like that! The finish is long with those very fine tannins offering some mouth grab. Long notes of earthy, cherry pit fruit linger on the cleansing finale. 89pts

2005 Montalupa Langhe Rosso

Fruit from the Podere di Montalupa in Bra. 100% Syrah, 1996 was the first vintage. This undergoes a 12 days on the skins then spends 30 months in old Slavonian oak. From sandy soils that render a “Piedmontese Syrah”.

This smells a but botte like at first though there is fairly good intensity to the blossoming notes of spicy, brambly fruit with a distinct Eucalyptus edge. With time balsamic notes of candle wax emerge adding nuances of black pepper and forest floor. This is full yet elegant in the mouth with fine acids and very gentle tannins. The wine is a bit tight and while gaining intensity remains a bit coy. Subtle, slightly gamy black berry fruits have low intensity and turns a bit redder with cut strawberry tones as the acids asset themselves. The wine is fairly elegant with a strong personality on the finish with its black fruit and fine precise nature. A solid effort for Syrah from Piemonte with some obvious terroir notes but a bit too early to fully access. 87pts

2004 Barolo Vigna dei Pola

Fruit from the Podere di Rivalta in Verduno, 12-13 days on the skins
then aged for 2 years, 1/3 in new Slavonian oak, 1/3 in used Slavonian oak, and 1/3 in Stainless steel. From vines in production only since 1999.

Very fresh on the nose, icy fresh with layers of hay, dried grasses, green flowers, menthol top notes all over slightly liquory, brambly fruits. Lots of sweet fruits up front with good acidity and well-managed tannins offering an impression of a precise balanced wine that melds forward fruit with a crisp texture. The fruit is youthful with a touch of melon rind to the core of dark but fresh black fruit tones with an herby top note and a tarry, darkly fertile earthy core. This is very elegant on the finish with focused fruit that may be a bit simple but with excellent clarity and approachability. A very fine Barolo for the near term. 90pts

2004 Podere di Sorano Barolo

Fruit from Serralunga 55 days on the skins then aged for 28 months in Slavonian oak 85% used/ 15% new

Intensely fruity on the nose with a primary quality and incipient Asian spice tones. The fruit adds a bit of a dried fruit character and nuances of green cardamom and clove oil add complexity. This has absolutely jewel-like fruit in the mouth. It’s pretty hard and tight at the moment but with excellent depth. The solid acids and superb tannins frame the strawberry/rhubarb fruit and offer such a facetted feel. This will need substantial time and reveals very little on the mid-palate but the finish, though still compressed, has real pure rock licking minerality and fine, lingering ethereal red fruits. I love the focus of this wine. Great potential here but be patient 2012-2030 93pts

2004 Costa & Bricco Barolo

Fruit from Podere di Sorano Serralunga 15 days on the skins then aged for 28 months in Slavonian oak 60% used/ 40% new

Open and giving on the nose with black spice tones, tea, animal fur, leather, smoky/salty, sea air, nori, medicinal tones, great complexity and then layers of sunburned wild strawberry fruits emerge adding a nice sweetened tone. Soft in the mouth with a sweet edge on entry then acids and fine tannins adding definition and volume, nicely balance and elegant with blackberry fruit gently kissed by tones of leather, earth, and blue slate. Fine length anf graceful on the finish with a lovely bitter/sweet tone ending with cleansing acids on the finish that allow the finale to pop with bright lingonberry fruits. Very nice and complete Barolo, great complexity and with the potential to improve 92pts.


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