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2016 Barolo Collector's Case, Arnaldo Rivera - 6 Cru Barolo, 1 great vintage and 1 unknown producer

April 2022

2016 Barolo Collector's Case, Arnaldo Rivera

6 Cru Barolo, 1 great vintage and 1 unknown producer

£245 per 6 bottle case in bond

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bottles in case - Copy


Ever heard of the wines of Arnaldo Rivera? I doubt it.
Ever tasted them? This is perhaps more likely.
 
Arnaldo Rivera was the founder of a cooperative in Barolo, called Terre del Barolo. This cooperative, which was founded in 1958, counts over 300 different growers as members, who collectively farm over 600 hectares of vines. They are responsible for a huge proportion of entry level Barolo sold all over the world in supermarkets and convenience stores. A number of UK supermarkets list their generic Barolo at £19.99 on the shelf and, qualitatively, it is fair enough – basically well-made for a bulk production wine. It is worth remembering that there is great skill in making a successful, large-scale blend – it could be argued that it is a more complicated exercise than focusing on one small vineyard and a very limited production. A number of cooperatives have essentially transcended the level of quality expected of a cooperative of growers. Think of La Chablisienne or Produttori del Barbaresco for two outstanding examples.
 
Six years ago, Terre del Barolo’s leadership decided to embark on a new project making use of the vineyard access that their membership allowed. After all, Terre del Barolo is the only producer to farm vineyards in all of the 11 Barolo communes, counting nearly all the top Cru or sites within their reach. Until this stage, all of their production was blended – that meant that fruit from great Barolo vineyards such as Vigna Rionda, Rocche di Castiglione and Monvigliero was essentially lost in a far broader, more all-encompassing blend, as mad as that might sound when you consider how each of these vineyards is revered today. The new project commemorates their founder, Arnaldo Rivera, using his name as the new brand for their top wines, a range of limited production, individual Cru, all crafted by one single winemaking team.
 
When I heard that the 2016 Arnaldo Rivera Barolo were to be released in a specially mixed case containing one bottle of each of their finest six Cru, I was intrigued. It is rare to have the chance to compare such sites where the only thing that differs is the source of the fruit, not the winemaking style. Given the standing of the 2016 vintage, which is undoubtedly a great, great year, I wondered if there could be some interesting results. I wasn’t disappointed…I found the wines clearly showed the hallmarks that we associate with their vineyards and all showed good purity and ripeness as befits a year like 2016. It is worth stressing that the production volumes here stretch to little more than two or three thousand bottles, so they are a world removed from the ‘normal’ Terre del Barolo wines in terms of both approach and results. What is more, they offer exceptional value for money; we are able to offer this mixed case of six Cru in the 2016 vintage at just £245 per 6 bottle case in bond. So, while I am not suggesting that these wines will register alongside the greatest Barolo you have ever tasted, they won’t disappoint. They are very well-made, and it is clear the 2016s mark a strong starting point for this project, which I expect to go from strength to strength.
 
I have included Monica Larner’s notes from robertparker.com below in full. When you consider that her scores range from 91 to 94 points, I think it gives you a good indication as to where these wines sit qualitatively. I would, however, add that her tasting notes date back to 2020, whereas I had the chance to taste last week. With that in mind, I have added some one liners of my own to add a bit of recent colour, but to avoid too epic an email!
 
A limited number of these mixed cases were made, and we are delighted to have made a good purchase for Atlas clients. This is, after all, an unusual opportunity to compare and contrast some great Barolo vineyards in a great vintage at a very reasonable cost. And, moreover, it shows that quality comes from the vineyard; the winemaking skill is there to harness what the vineyard has to offer.
 
2016 Barolo Collector’s Case, Arnaldo Rivera
£245 per 6 bottle case in bond
Containing one bottle of each of Rocche di Castiglione, Vigna Rionda, Ravera, Bussia, Monvigliero and Castello 

 
1. ROCCHE DI CASTIGLIONE 
Deep with dark, bold, ripe fruit. Quite full, lovely texture, though the structural tannins inherent to this site are present. Smoky, minty, tangy and savoury nuances lend fine complexity. This is shaping up very well indeed. (SL)
 
94 points, Monica Larner
With only 2,400 bottles made, the Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione represents the smallest production in this wide-reaching collection of single-vineyard Baroli. Fruit comes from Castiglione Falletto, one of the best-performing comuni in the classic 2016 vintage. The grapes are harvested from vines that were planted from 1977 to 1990, and you feel the extra richness and concentration of old wood as a result. This expression is reserved and closed at this young stage, requiring extra cellar time before it unfolds. The fruit is tight and compact with wild berry, cola, blood orange and iron rust. It will hit the market in September 2020. 2024-2045.

 
2. VIGNA RIONDA
Deep and brooding with dark fruit and spice, beautifully ripe. Has that glossy, textural tannin quality typical of Rionda. Velvety. Fine purity here and all the components in harmony. Impressive. (SL)
 
93 points, Monica Larner
The Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Vignarionda comes from a single parcel in Serralunga d'Alba planted at 330 meters above sea level. The vines are relatively young, planted in 2003. The bouquet is both spicy and savory with a long list of aromas that span from dark fruit, cherry liqueur, cola and balsam herb to earthy licorice root. The aromas are tangy and almost exotic in character. Thanks to that robust fruit weight, the tannins feel consequently softer and better integrated in this wine. A mere 3,400 bottles were made. 2024-2040.
 
3. RAVERA
Showcasing Ravera’s typical austerity in youth; coolly ripe fruit, with notes of dark cherry, wild mint and spice. Savoury nuances emerge to the finish. Currently taut in structure, needing time. Classy. (SL)
 
93 points, Monica Larner
The Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Ravera is actually a blend of fruit from six vineyards located within the cru, planted at various stages from 1963 to 1968, 1970, 1991, 1992, 1997 and 1999 to 2002. The winemaking approach is the same as the other single-vineyard wines in this series, which see 32 months of aging in tonneaux and botte grande. The bouquet offers dark fruit and savory spice with tilled earth and cardamom pod. The Ravera also shows a meaty tone with bresaola or cured ham, but this is only a very light accent. The mouthfeel is tight and linear, with dusty tannins on the close. Some 5,600 bottles will hit the market in September 2020. This is one of my favorites in the series. 2023-2040.
 
4. BUSSIA 
Captures that deep brooding fruit of Bussia, with dried citrus peel and a moderately firm tannic frame. Fuller, gently mouthfilling with fine depth of fruit. (SL)
 
92 points, Monica Larner
The Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Bussia is actually a blend of two sites located within Bussia at about 410 meters above sea level. The vines were planted in 1969, with more plantings between 1981 and 2003. Starting with the 2018 vintage, a third site in Bussia Gabutti adjacent to Romirasco will be added to the blend. This vintage boasts a dark and nicely saturated appearance with bold cherry, blackberry, tar and licorice. I also get a distinct aroma that reminds me of bitter almond or toasted hazelnut. The tannins are slightly astringent and textured, requiring more bottle age until they subside. Some 4,500 bottles were released. 2023-2040
 
5. MONVIGLIERO
Fragrant, elegant, showing fine purity. Attractive red and black fruits, blood orange too, with a distinctive, mineral undertow. Very graceful, sleek tannins and persistent fruit. (SL)
 
91 points, Monica Larner
The Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Monvigliero represents a blend of fruit from three sites located within the celebrated Monvigliero cru. The vines were planted between 1948 and 1972 in one site, in 1950 in the second and in 2002 in the third. On average, the vineyards are located at 260 meters above sea level. Extended fermentation occurs over three weeks in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation in oak. The finished wine ages in tonneaux and botte grande for 32 months. The character of this wine is savory and earthy, with some truffle essence spread over black fruit and licorice. Like the other wines in this series from Arnaldo Rivera, I think better work could be done with the management of the tannins, which are a bit too rough and bitter at this young stage. Some 5,000 bottles will be released in September 2020. 2023-2040
 
6. CASTELLO
More forward than the other Cru, supple in contrast, small dark fruits, elegant underbrush notes, menthol too. Appealing and shows charm at young stage. (SL)
 
91 points, Monica Larner
This wine sources its fruit from youngish vines in Grinzane Cavour planted in 2003. With only 5,000 bottles made, the Arnaldo Rivera 2016 Barolo Castello is an open-knit and accessible expression. The bouquet produces aromas of dark berry, plum, tilled earth and licorice. The wine shows depth and power, with good complexity, making it a fine partner to grilled meats. This vineyard site is located at 250 meters above sea level at the foot of the Grinzane Cavour castle (a UNESCO heritage site), and fruit from this vineyard has been fermented by this co-operative winery since 1973. 2022-2035
 
So, there you have it, a fascinating selection that showcases the quality of the vineyard holdings within the cooperative and clearly points the way to greater future interest. I look forward to seeing how this project develops as the components for success are clearly present.


Please let us know of your interest.
 
All the best,
 
Simon

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