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2019 Barolo Serra and Cerretta from Giovanni Rosso

July 2023

2019 Barolo Serra and Cerretta
from Giovanni Rosso

 2019 Barolo, Serra - £318 per 6 bottle case in bond

2019 Barolo, Cerretta - £318 per 6 bottle case in bond


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Barolo releases are a law unto themselves. We have just received our allocation of the 2019s from Giovanni Rosso. I nearly gave up the ghost, however I have been eagerly awaiting these releases since the moment I tasted – each year I note a significant step up in quality at this estate and the 2019s could be the best yet.
Anyone visiting the estate will acknowledge their ambition – the cellars are impeccably laid out, and the vineyards perfectly managed and the quality in the bottle is seriously impressive. Alas, the great and good of wine criticdom do not seem to visit to taste – Monica Larner of has previously tasted but has issued no notes on the 2019 Barolo vintage yet. Antonio Galloni of Vinous tends to review the wines of Giovanni Rosso in his second Barolo review, which is yet to be published. Fortunately, Walter Speller from is on the front foot and has already released his reviews. Out of all these critics, Walter Speller is the only one to taste routinely and reading his notes certainly suggests he recognises the shift in quality that I have witnessed in the last few years.
The Rossos have been making wine in Serralunga d’Alba since the 1890s and today have holdings within some 12 crus in this commune, including Serra, Cerretta, Broglio, Sorana and notably Damiano and Vigna Rionda, both of which were mentioned as far back as 1694. They have also acquired a new vineyard in Valle del Mondo towards the Roddino boundary. Their cellars quietly nestle into the curve of a valley, down from the Prapo vineyard. Giovanni’s son, Davide, took over responsibility for winemaking in 2001, having studied oenology and worked at various cellars in France – at that time he was just 27. Davide’s ambition is clear, not just in the exacting standards evidenced here in Barolo, but also in Sicily where he has commenced a new project.
If you follow Barolo and this estate is not on your radar yet, I think it will be soon. New investment has delivered state of the art winemaking facilities, providing ample space for maceration and maturation. As I wrote once before, perhaps the most dramatic illustration of their commitment to quality in the long term is their decision to uproot and replant two-thirds of their holdings in what is regarded as the jewel in the crown, a significant 1.2 hectares of the Vigna Rionda cru. These vines are now maturing but the fruit from them goes into a Langhe Nebbiolo – a wine that isn’t aged as long as Barolo, until they determine that the fruit is of sufficient quality to go into the Barolo, Vigna Rionda, Ester Canale. To put this into context, imagine pulling up two-thirds of either DRC’s 1.7 hectare Romanée-Conti vineyard or Rousseau’s 1.4 hectares of Clos de Bèze! From the 0.40 hectares that remain to Rosso since 2011’s replanting, they produce a mere 1,800 bottles of Vigna Rionda. Taking this decision in one of Barolo’s most famous vineyards tells you a lot about their intent. The Vigna Rionda vineyard became famous on account of numerous vintages made by Bruno Giacosa, who sourced fruit from the same vines in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, many of which rank among the greatest Barolo ever made according to various critics. Replanting such a hallowed vineyard is a major undertaking, but the Rossos are taking no shortcuts to quality. Vigna Rionda is a special vineyard – full south facing, and a limestone base – and the Rossos are treating it as such. The above highlights the growing reputation of this estate, one firmly rooted in history but now clearly building quality for the future. I have been fascinated to see the winemaking approach refine and adjust, backed up by the bold decisions the family has taken in the vineyard.

The two wines I am offering here are the 2019 Barolo, Serra and 2019 Barolo, Cerretta, both of which lie in Serralunga d’Alba – a commune that is synonymous with great Barolo, home to not just Vigna Rionda mentioned above, but also the Francia vineyard that is responsible for Roberto Conterno’s Monfortino. The Rosso’s Cerretta parcel has been in the family for a century and was partly replanted in 1984 and 2000…the vineyard stretches like an amphitheatre facing south-east and rises to over 350 metres. A small copse shelters the vineyard from stronger winds. The soil of Cerretta is mainly limestone, clay and marl, and revealing very few pebbles in the surface, it can look like pale, newly set cement when wet (as my boots can testify) and becomes flaky when dry. The balance between power and finesse demands incredibly high standards in the vineyard with green harvest and canopy management necessary to encourage the grapes to full maturity and bring about a finer quality of tannins in the skins. Winemaking must be equally as attentive to avoid extracting too much from the skins – temperature and duration of maceration are key factors. This is what has impressed me so much at Rosso – the tannins are so well-managed, and the fruit is achieving fine ripeness. Cerretta can be burly, but the 2019 shows real refinement – the vineyard produces powerful wines that often need patience. In the 2019, I picked up zesty blood orange notes, as well as dark cherry, loganberry and damson. Deep and intense, the fruit shows with terrific clarity, and the naturally grippy tannins of this Cru are so well handled. Long, pure – this must surely be their best Cerretta to date. I can’t wait to see how this shows in 8-10 years’ time.

Serra in Serralunga d’Alba, not to be confused with the La Serra vineyard in La Morra, was planted across a similar period of time. It lies at a similar altitude but much further south than Cerretta, closer to the winery, just down the road from Vigna Rionda. It is a relatively small Cru covering just over 10 hectares compared to Cerretta’s 40. The part owned by the Rossos is perhaps the highest section and is very well-regarded. The Rossos are one of the only estates to produce a single Cru from this vineyard, as opposed to using it as blending material, and their effort is well worth it, as the 2019 Serra is beautifully poised revealing a distinctive mineral note, as well as lifted, violet infused aromas to its loganberry and raspberry fruit. It certainly doesn’t lack concentration, though it is more supple and approachable than the more brooding Cerretta. I think this will start to drink a little earlier than Cerretta, but has the potential for drinking over a similar two decade period. I would be inclined to give it 4 to 5 years before broaching a bottle.

I have incorporated my tasting notes in the words above, but please see Walter Speller’s below. I think it is fair to say we are on the same page!

2019 Barolo, Serra, Giovanni Rosso
£318 per 6 bottle case in bond

17.5+/20 points, Walter Speller,  
Intense raspberry fruit with minerally stony notes on the nose that become more perfumed with aeration. Fantastic, tactile, polished tannins with lashes of supple, pure raspberry fruit. Intense, long finish. (WS) Drink 2026-2044.

2019 Barolo, Cerretta, Giovanni Rosso
£318 per 6 bottle case in bond

17.5/20  points, Walter Speller, 
Concentrated and finely perfumed at the same time. Raspberry fruit with a hint of orange. A palate of succulent raspberry fruit with lots of supple acidity and beautiful, coating tannins absorbing the lush fruit. Complete. (WS) Drink 2026-2042.

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