When I first saw a picture of the new winery at Cascina Adelaide, with the quaint village of Barolo in the Background, I though it was a computer generated mock-up. This landed spacecraft in the middle of meticulously kept lawns lent a distinct Monty Pythonesque quality to the looming towers of Barolo. But no, it is all so real. The incredible facility is mostly buried under a cool green carpet with one wall cut into the rolling hill allowing for an immense expanse of light to illuminate the facility and literally, with the receiving doors open, bring the outdoors in.
In addition to exhibiting a respect for the land of Barolo, it’s positioning also bade homage to the traditions of the land. The new Cascina Adelaide facility allows for a melding of new and old techniques that are being used to perfect a particular expression of the finest Crus of Barolo without disrupting the fabric that serves as a touchstone to the past. The scenic and unspoiled beauty that is Barolo
During my visit with proprietor Amabile Drocco, who purchased this hundred-year-old property in 1999, and winemaker Simone we spoke of every facet of their operation and one thing is for sure, this winery is filled with passion, dedication and pride. That many of these wines are named for women important in the life of Amabile is further testament to the notion that something special, something worthy is put into bottle here.
During the tasting both gentlemen were interested in understanding my opinions of each wine in an effort to have a more complete picture of their wines, not only as their intent but also how they are perceived. With only a handful of vintages under their belt, 2000 was the first, and open minds, both Amabile and Simone are anxious to see how the adjustment they are making with each vintage impact the final product. They may be limited somewhat today since the winery is brand new, and thus the wines are perhaps more influenced by new barrels and fermentation vessels than is ideal, but it seems that they are off to a promising start.
These are modern wines in their results though the intent is to find something perhaps a bit more centrist. There doesn’t seem to be a distinct ideological bent here as the winery is well equipped with both medium sized botte and barrique. The fermentation floor has both temperature controlled stainless vessels as well as classic open top tini. In short this is a hard winery to pigeonhole, each wine is vinified and raised in a way that is hoped to reveal the true essence of the fruit and land from which it comes.
Dolcetto Diano d’Alba Vigna Costa Fiore 2007
From old vines, 4-6 day fermentation in stainless with 3-5 pump-overs a day.
There is a touch of rubbery reduction on the nose here and the wine retains youthful spicy tones of gooseberry to the dark, earthy fruit and blackberry notes. Very suave in the mouth with tannins that float under the plush fruit, kept fresh with nicely balanced acidity that gives good lift to the spicy herbal green tones and mineral notes embedded in the dark cherry fruit. The finish is clean if short with earthy and cherry pit notes that are a bit simple. A fine example of Dolcetto with good depth and typicity but the touch of reduction is off-putting. 86pts
Barbera d’Alba Le Mie Donne 2007
From vines just behind the winery on the lower slopes of the Preda cru. From old vines, 4-6 day fermentation in stainless with 3-5 pump-overs a day.
Slightly balsamic notes emerge quickly from the glass with savory notes of roast pork and soft smoky mineral tones adding complexity to the sweet cherry fruit with a top note of green tobacco. Medium full bodied in the mouth and lovely with a fleshy feel but neither sweet nor extracted. The acids here are good but a bit softer than I would like but it does allow the pure, bright red fruit notes of plum, wild strawberry and red apple to fully express themselves on the palate. The finish is nice and juicy with a touch more obvious acidity and excellent purity and focus. A very solid Barbera. 88pts
Barbera d’Alba Vigna Preda 2006
From old vines, 4-6 day fermentation in stainless with 3-5 pump-overs a day. Then aged 1 year in botte.
Very intense and aromatic with immediate sweet fruit, floral and plum jam tones that are gentle edged with vanilla. A bit spicy and with good depth. This is very elegant in the mouth with a soft almost delicate feel but retains good weight and reasonable structure. The palate profile is dark and earthy with less obvious fruit than one typically finds with Barbera and the touch of wood spice adds to the slightly jammy blackberry fruit tones. Again a wine with good purity and intensity that finishes bright and sapid. The wood certainly adds complexity but I am not sure that the wine is improved by it sojourn in barrel. 87pts
Barbera d’Alba Superiore d’Amabilin 2006
This spends 18 months in a combination of Barrique and botte and includes 10% Nebbiolo in the blend.
Toasty and caramelly on the nose with loads of sweet baking spice, cocoa, and coffee aromas. Oaky for sure but with tons of sweet, jammy fruit underneath. This is big and dense in the mouth with an old vines feel to it. Chewy yet balanced with a lot of power for a very nearly full bodied Barbera. There are lovely herbal and citrus nuances to the solid core of red fruits here with a touch of cinnamon red hots on the mid-palate but the wine feels a touch closed and seems top have more in reserve to offer. On the finish there are lively notes of sour cherry and acids that verge on bracing but the feel is of a wine folded in on itself with a nice, lingering note of fruit tannin lengthening the short finish. This looks to be very attractive but needs a year or two to integrate. 89pts
Langhe Nebbiolo 2005
A blend of fruit from the various communes, fermented in tini for over two weeks then aged in botte for and a few second passage barriques for a year.
A bit fumy at first with an edge of light toast which are quickly replaced with notes or fresh white flowers and a touch of woodsy angelica root. There are competing notes of melon ring, wood spice and brush fire that add complexity. This is pretty big and powerful for a straight Nebbiolo with cutting acidity and round, ripe tannins that frame the very fine red fruits. Lurking spicy soil tones add depth. This has lovely freshness in the mouth with a touch of dandelion balancing the chewy fruit. The finish is long and dense with the house trademark bright sapidity. The only knock here is again the wine lacks a touch of complexity but makes up for it with admiral purity and power. 88pts
A five vineyard blend that is fermented in tini for two weeks then aged in a combination of Botte and used barrique.
Woodsy on the nose with strong balsamic and sottobosco notes. Not a fruit driven nose with deep flinty minerality. Sweetish and front-loaded in the mouth then very linear and precise with fine balance between the polished tannins and cleansing acidity. The fruit is soft and subtle with emerging notes of wild cherry gentle accented by sottobosco notes and a vein of licorice that leads to a long finish with bright acids and nice notes of tea and woodsy roots. Fine base Barolo 88pts.
Barolo Cannubi 2004
From 40 to 50 year old vines in Barolo
Smoky and marked by woody spice this none-the-less has strong fresh nebbiolo fruit with herbal, arugula and anise notes rising above the iron rich soil and asphalt tones on the nose. Elegant and refined in the mouth with solid structure lending a bit of chewiness to the dark, dense fruit that recalls plums and dates. There is an intriguing dusty dry earthy, oily element to the palate that makes this a bit big barrel tasting but there is good structural tension in the mouth. The bracing tannins come to the fore on the finish with crisp acids cleansing the mouth. This will really need some time for the big tannins to mellow. 2012-2024 90pts
Barolo Preda 2004
From young vines 10-15 years of age in Barolo
The aromatics here are pure and expressive with classic liquory red fruits, a touch of brownie, well integrated oak and fine notes of warm drying cherries, slight medicinal/herbal tones and dark tea. This starts out big and deceptively soft then the great acids pop out and balance the well managed but important tannins. In the mouth this is a touch lighter than the Cannubi with more astringent notes and redder fruit that veers toward the lingonberry end of the spectrum but is really pure with engaging cherry notes and incipient tones of mushroom and nori. Very giving on the finish which is long and layered with leather, herbal/tobacco top notes and excellent ripe Nebbiolo tannins adding length. A complete Barolo in need of only a few years to be at it’s best 2010-2020 92pts
From young vines 10-15 years old in La Morra.
This offers up elegant and restrained notes of hot iron, mint and coffee, it seems a bit closed at the moment. In the mouth this is like a black flannel cape, broad with mass but covering who knows what. Slowly the wine gains aromatics, the ionized air after a rainstorm, a touch of wood, a whiff of cigarette smoke, more menthol and spice tones. In the mouth the wine is as closed as on the nose with a rich feel and huge structure seemingly balanced by huge flesh that gives the wine a sweet profile. Slowly notes of intense red fruits, clean licorice and exotic sandalwood emerge in a very narrow focus vein of fruit that is sinewy and earthy. This is very young and powerful and will need a handful of years in the cellar before revealing it’s full potential. 91pts.
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