Well, here is a surprise. I have tasted several Barolo from Cordero di Montezemolo before, and found them to be good rather than exceptional. A chance opportunity to taste the 2016s revealed a quality level I had never associated with this estate, and yet, according to reviews, the quality of their wines has been stepping up over the last five years or so, something I had missed.
Cordero di Montezemolo (montay-zem-o-low) is one of the historic estates of Barolo – after all, very few estates can trace their roots back to 1340, nor boast that 19 generations have managed their family estate. Today, it is Giovanni Cordero di Montezemolo and his children Elena and Alberto that run the estate.
The Monfalleto estate in La Morra extends over 50 hectares – certainly large by Piemontese standards, 41 of which they own, and 9 of which they rent. Perhaps it is the scale of holdings that results in Codero di Montezemolo remaining somewhat under the radar? It is hard to say, but when you dig a little deeper, you find that the volume of production is largely accounted for by their Monfalleto label, a blend from across several different vineyards.
The gem of the estate is the ‘Bricco Gattera’, which comes from one single hectare of vines, situated at the foot of an imposing, century old, Lebanese cedar tree that provides a focal point for the landscape. The word ‘bricco’ signifies that this parcel is at the highest elevation within the south/west facing Gattera cru at 300 metres of altitude. There is no doubt that this is a beautifully situated vineyard with clay and calcareous soils.
The style of the wines made by Cordero di Montezemolo has changed over recent years – post 1990 they moved towards a more modernist style but have happily moved back to the centre ground in recent years, reducing the oak impact on the wines and allowing the character of their vineyards to be fully expressed. The ‘Bricco Gattera’ spent 18 months in 30 hectolitre large oak botti.
I was so impressed with the purity of the 2016 Bricco Gattera as well as the complexity of such a young Barolo – scented aromatics, a silkily refined palate with wonderful ripe fruit, picking up notes of damson, plum, sage, minerals and spice. The tannins were so well-handled, sleek and fine-grained with nothing harsh to disturb the sense of harmony. This is a seriously captivating Barolo, which goes to show that there is a huge benefit to be had by shaking off preconceptions as much as there is by keeping tabs on the evolution of well-situated estates. Consider it two lessons learned.
Please see below for the full note from Antonio Galloni on vinous.com – I was interested to see that this is the highest score he has ever awarded a wine from Cordero di Montezemolo.
2016 Barolo, Bricco Gattera, Cordero di Montezemolo
96 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
£350 per 6 bottle case in bond
The 2016 Barolo Gattera is one of the best recent editions of this wine I can remember tasting. The natural richness and fruit intensity of this hillside site make for a beautifully expressive Barolo. Dark cherry, hard candy, plum, spice, sweet lavender, graphite and leather all infuse the 2016 with notable character and captivating inner perfume. The Gattera is a blend of two parcels, both southwest facing. It is 2016 is a positively stunning wine. 2022-2041.
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