For an illustrious viticultural area, Barbaresco has surprisingly few high-profile growers. But there is a growing number of quality conscious producers quietly crafting impeccable expressions in this Piemonte region.
I have been following the wines of Albino Rocca on and off since tasting a fabulous 1996 Vignetto Brich Ronchi a decade ago. While that wine carried its 100% new French oak barrel elevage well, it was a noteworthy characteristic. A change of approach since 2004 in moving towards the use of larger, more neutral, 20 hectolitre casks has allowed for a significantly heightened expression of the outstanding single vineyards that Angelo Rocca had carefully added from the 1960s.
Galloni recently wrote about the wines of Albino Rocca as “gracious, understated Barbarescos that impress with their impeccable balance.” Adding that “Over the last handful of years farming and winemaking have evolved in the direction of greater finesse”. This is certainly borne out in our own tastings.
The Albino Rocca estate dates back to the 1940s, when Albino’s father, Giacomo, sold grapes from the family vineyards and started to make his own wine. Albino’s son, Angelo, established the estate on a firmer footing, adding vineyards in now highly regarded Barbaresco cru from the 1960s onwards. His passion for the vineyards of the region was matched by his passion for flying. Sadly, he died when his plane crashed in 2012 and today it is his three daughters Daniela, Monica, and Paola as well as his son-in-law, Carlo, who run the estate.
Based in Barbaresco itself, Albino Rocca has vines in four different cru vineyards, namely Cotta (in Nieve), Ronchi and Ovello (in Barbaresco), Montersino (in Treiso). As mentioned, the style here has gently shifted over time, moving away from a heavier oak accent towards a style that is marked by greater fruit purity and freshness, one in which each cru is so clearly expressed, the pendulum having swung back to embrace a more traditional winemaking style.
The Ronchi Vineyard is south of Montestefano, on Neive border. Albino Rocca’s vines in Ronchi are 50-70 years old, planted in soils of calcareous clay, which imparts notable structure and understated power. Meanwhile, the Loreto vineyard is situated within the larger, historic, Ovello Cru. This is one of the estate’s longest held vineyards and the vines are between 35 and 40 years old, planted at 240 metres above sea level with a south-easterly aspect in a sandy subsoil that yields wines of elegance and charm. Sadly, from a mere 0.5 hectares, Albino Rocca produce just 3,000 bottles.
This is a producer from which the wines are beautifully expressed, showing wonderful fruit depth allied to grace and harmony and which clearly illustrate a dedicated, focused team determined to express the range and quality of which Barbaresco is capable in good hands.
We are delighted to be able to offer these two excellent and contrasting cru from the outstanding 2019 vintage from this rejuvenated estate.