Wine Talk

Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere

Good news from Barolo

Posted by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 20, 2012.

The Cannubi case is finally over (maybe). Finally the judgment of 4 June 2012 the TAR of Lazio (regional court) recognizes the merits of the appeal about Cannubi crus.

A little recap. Some of cru of Barolo are: Cannubi, Cannubi S. Lorenzo, Cannubi Valletta, Cannubi Boschis, Cannubi Muscatel. Marchesi di Barolo spa challenged that crus names defending the view that it was unfair to make a distinction between the cru called Cannubi and the other Cannubi something else. Marchesi di Barolo argued that there's no historical reason to make this distinction. Cannubi is one of the most famous and important crus of Barolo area and of course have it on the label is prestigious, for comparison with the burgundy is as if Chevalier-Montrachet want to be named just like Montrachet.

Marchesi di Barolo win that challenge and from september 2010 the Cannubi S. Lorenzo, Cannubi Valletta, Cannubi Boschis, Cannubi Muscatel can be reported on labels as extended names (Cannubi S. Lorenzo, Cannubi Valletta, Cannubi Boschis, Cannubi Muscatel) os just as Cannubi. Eleven owners of Cannubi (the original one) proposed an action to TAR for the annulment of the judgment taking documents to prove the historicity of the different names. June 4 TAR has ruled that they were right and now Cannubi can be used only for the original cru.

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Replies

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Reply by Anna Savino, Jun 20, 2012.

YAY! I agree ... always a good idea to hold onto the "original" identity. The crus can get so confusing sometimes:/ thanks for the update!

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Reply by gregt, Jun 20, 2012.

Here is some history, although without the update Giac just provided:

http://bbrblog.com/2010/12/03/caspita-cannubi/

Kind of tempest in a teapot stuff tho. From the article:

from vintage 2010 consumers risk being duped into thinking that the expensive bottle of ‘Cannubi’ they’re cradling comes from the original, historic, single vineyard, when in fact it’s a blend of five

Uh - so expensive means from a single plot?  And if so, does that mean better? It's the kind of stuff that wine geeks care about but really means nothing - if one is willing to pay more for a single plot wine than for a blend under the theory that it's going to be better, then there's a real lack of common sense at work. And if it's not better, why would it be more expensive?

Granbussia anyone?

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Reply by Anna Savino, Jun 20, 2012.

I don't think it means that single plot wines are without a doubt better but I think it is more a matter of pride from the winemakers who are very tied to tradition in this area. If they are "lucky" enough to have vineyards in the original Cannubi Cru, I believe they would want to be distinguished.

 

However, I do agree with you that from the consumer's point of view it doesn't really change much other than the price. Nice point GregT

 

 

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 20, 2012.

The point Greg as Anna say is a matter of pride and traditions and then fairness to consumers. Surely Cannubi (orginal one) is more famous then any other Cannubi like crus and extending this name to every parcell on the same hill is not exactly the right way to a fair comunication with consumers. I don't think in burgundry that can happen, Montrachet will never be extended to any other Montrachet like cru.

Marchesi di Barolo is the greatest barolo producer and of course its challenge was more a business case than historical, Cannubi on the label is different than Cannubi Muscatel. The producers challenge was more historical/traditional case than business and to prove that in the group there was a producer who haven't parcells in the traditional Cannubi cru only in Cannubi San Lorenzo and the city of Barolo.

Prices of wines is not a point in this problem, there isn't a burgundy like classification of crus, it's just a traditional parcell name. Prices of wines are more joined with producer name than with cru, Sandrone Cannubi Boschis (85€) is for example a lot more expansive than Giacomo Fenocchio Cannubi (35€).

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 20, 2012.

That's the point of Marta Rinaldi, Anna i think you know her. :)

http://www.intravino.com/primo-piano/denominazione-di-origine-cannubi-garantita-il-tar-del-lazio-sconfessa-marchesi-di-barolo/

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 20, 2012.

Okay, Giacomo, here's the next question:  Why are all these Aldo Conterno Barolos being sold at serious discounts at K&L in California? Am I going to be glugging these like cheap table wine when I'm in Rome next month?  Is this part of the Euro instability?

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 20, 2012.

BTW, I am in favor of truth in labeling, and I think that (disagreeing I think with GregT) distinguishing between the vineyards for those wishing to purchase examples of Cannubi simpliciter vs. the "other Cannubis" makes sense.  I think there are issues of protecting the prices of Cannubi vs. the others, plainly, although these classifications are also ways to raise the barriers to entry and slow the changes in perception in the market, which can hamper improvements in wine. 

But it does not mean the wines will be better just because they are SVDs.  And many of the great northern producers were known to "improve" their wines with unreported imports from well outside the region.  Wherever there is profit, there will be cheating.

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 20, 2012.

I don't think the point is protecting prices of Cannubi (or any other cru), Barolo price are more linked with producer than parcell, as i say in the other posts there's wines from the other Cannubi (Sandrone Cannubi Boschis 85€ and Rinaldi Cannubi San Lorenzo 45€ for example) that costs more than wines from original Cannubi (Fenocchio Cannubi 35€) instead this classification could raise the price of the Cannubi vineyard (maybe is what u mean Faxall and i've just missunderstand your words).

About Aldo Conterno wines K&L prices are absolutley a given away. These are the prices you can find more or less in italian wine shops. Barolo (base) 2007 50€, Barolo Cicala 2007 80€, Barolo Romirasco 2006 100€, Barolo Gran Bussia 2001 120€. I don't know how K&L can have this prices but if you can don't miss it! Here in Italy you will pay it much more.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 20, 2012.

I'll pull the trigger on those later today.  Thanks, Giacomo!

And you understood me perfectly.  I didn't understand you--my fault for rushing.  I did know that Rinaldi went for a lot, but I didn't realize it was from the other Cannubi vineyards.  Interesting. There's always some danger of a further expansion of the name, of course, to growers with lesser practices.

Just a couple weeks and I'll be in Italy, GP--only Rome and maybe some lake country to cool off. My first time there, looking forward to it. 

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 20, 2012.

Unfortunately i live far from Rome and we can't meet, surely is not lacking of good wine (and historical beauties of course), i know a couple of wine shops in Rome where i found good wines and fair prices.

Which lake you want to go?

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Reply by gregt, Jun 20, 2012.

Fox - I called them and Woodland and their story is that it's a change in distributors/importers. I have zero clue whether that's true or not but it's curious because the wines are still in Italy. Anyhow, they're cheaper than they've been and of course I pulled the trigger too.

FWIW - I really don't have a strong opinion one way or another on Cannubi and what they call it. My point was just that I think it means more to them than to people outside the region, just like most of these territorial disputes mean a lot to the locals and less to others. A producer can claim that he or she is located on a traditional wonderful slope and that may be true. But what are you really buying as the brand? Are you buying that slope or are you buying the producer?  Who goes out and says they're buying a Cote Rotie from some lieu dit? They buy a producer, not a vineyard, and to the degree that the vineyard brand is an additional line extension for the producer, that's fine, but really for marketing it could be something like "Grandpa's Selection" as well as it could be a single vineyard.

Today people look at brands. That wasn't the case hundreds of years ago because everything was artisinal, hand made, etc. I understand that to a degree the vineyard can be the brand, but really it's not. The producer is. The old idea works in the case of the Produttori di Barbaresco, or even some of the older bodegas in Rioja and elsewhere. But today, as Antinori showed with Tignanello, the producer matters more.

But again - not trying to argue here, they can do as they wish.  In any event, thanks to Giac for the original post.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 20, 2012.

Giacomo, still trying to decide between Como and Maggiore.  Orta seems too hard without a car. What do you suggest?  We have two kids, 9 and 11 years of age.

GregT, got the go ahead, I'm going to pull the trigger, too.  We should compare purchases.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 21, 2012.

Okay, with the Europe trip looming and three new suits on the books (being a lawyer has its expenses), I had to limit myself to 3 bottles of the AC Barolo: 2000 Granbussia, 2006 Cicala, 2004 Romirasco, grand total $205 before tax.  GregT, what did you get?

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 21, 2012.

I saw some time ago a nice interview with Teobaldo Cappellano (here), he said that in piedmont land ownership has existed since 1600, only the Marchesi di Barolo could be considered as landowners with 500 hectares (small compared to 5000-10000 hectares of estates that were in Tuscany and sicily). The owned land become a sacred thing and for centuries farmers have made furious fights to defend their piece of land and move one meter of the boundaries of the property was enough to be killed.

I believe that this testimony explains quite well the reasons for this
modern legal battle.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 21, 2012.

Damn Giac - my Italian is non-existent! Would have loved to have understood it!  I'm sure the people fought over their boundaries - they did here in the US too. Land was the way for people to survive so it had to be an important thing.

Anyhow, I picked up pretty much some of everything - a mixed case of Cicala, Romirasco, and Collonello, as well as the generic Barolo and Granbussia. I think he had it right - the blend should be the best he can make, but when I've had the others, I like them too.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 21, 2012.

They have been fighting over vineyard names for as long as people have been putting vineyard names on the labels.  A Barolo from Brunate or Cannubi can be great in the hands of one producer and horrible in the hands of another.  I for one would not want to see these names merged because I love the diversity of all the different Barolo crus.  I'd hate to watch the lines blur so a large producer can increase their sales.

 

As for the blend versus single vineyard argument, I believe it's the producer that matters much more.  Just look at Bartolo Mascarello and Rinaldi versus the oceans of bad single vineyard wine.  I enjoy tasting these wines as single vineyards or blends and find beauty in each but I don't believe that one is superior over the other.  It just happens that single vineyard bottling is the current trend and as long as it continues, we will see the better producers marketing single vineyards.

 

The Aldo Conterno sale was amazing and I heard from multiple sources that the wines were cellar direct.  I think that anyone who loves Barolo and didn't buy into this will regret it for many years to come.  I've also heard multiple stories behind the event and it makes me wonder if it's just something much simpler, like the family wanting to liquidate old stock.  There's no harm in that and I'm sure the Aldo Conterno name will go on to do great things.  You don't see their current releases discounted.  The '05 Granbussia is still way too expensive and the single vineyards will continue to stretch beyond the $100 mark.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 21, 2012.

EG, is the expense of the '05 Granbussia because they didn't make it from 2002 to 2004?  I'm glad I pulled the trigger.  Wish I could have ordered more, but I mentioned above the limitations.  Sigh.  Nonetheless, I vastly improved my meager Barolo holdings, which had previously consisted of these:

Definitely need to branch out in producers, but for a Nebbiolo neophyte like me, AC seems like a good place to start. Especially because the provenance seems indisputable and some of the wines have some age--good chance they'll be in their prime while I'm still around to drink them. 

 

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Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 21, 2012.

I doubt it, they may not have made Granbussia for a few vintages but they still bottled Romirasco and, if anything, it forced them to create a new single vineyard bottle that has become very popular.  Another excuse may be that they are now using only the best juice from Romirasco in Granbussia, with the rest going to the Romirasco bottle.  In the end, I've never seen a winemaker raise the price on a bottle for only one vintage (to catch up).  Raising of the price will most likely stay that way going forward.  I think it's more likely that they are looking at the price of their cousin's Monfortino--and wondering why they can't have a bottle that sells in the $250 and over range.  If anything, I think the price will continue to go up with each vintage.  It's too bad too, I love Granbussia (which also happens to be a blend, as we were discussing above).

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jun 21, 2012.

I mostly agree wit EG Foxall, Granbussia is produced only in the best vintages and jump some vintages don't look so strange and probably the price raising reason is exactly what EG said. Monfortino cost twice and from 1990 to 2005 wasn't produced just 4 vintages, Granbussia on the same span 6 times.

@ Foxall do not complain too much, I should cry because I can not even order them!!! :D

About Granbussia blend its made with grapes form Romirasco, Ciacala and Colonnello crus. This is a recent vertical tasting, part 1, and part 2 (sorry but is in italian...) if you want to read something about it. Don't worry for its drinking span, you can leave it for your grandchildrens... :)

@ EG: "A Barolo from Brunate or Cannubi can be great in the hands of one producer and horrible in the hands of another." this is exactly what i mean when i say that price is more linked with producer than cru.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 21, 2012.

Can leave it for the grandchildren, but hell with them.

Let them buy their own wine! 

Cheers.

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