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The 2019 Barbaresco from La Ca' Nova - three stunning successes

November 2021

The 2019 Barbaresco from La Ca' Nova - three stunning successes

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La Ca’ Nova not only make some of the most breathtaking Barbaresco that I taste each year, but they make some of the most reasonably priced. Each year I wonder whether it will be the last time I will make this incongruous statement, as I believe the quality is such that the price could sit much higher and it is not as if I am alone in my view.
 
‘La Ca' Nova is, in my view, quite possibly the greatest Barbaresco estate most people have not heard about. Yet. The wines, from two of the very top sites in town, are magnificent.’ Antonio Galloni, August 2019.
 
As I am also now in the habit of mentioning each year, Marco Rocca, is incredibly modest and unassuming, but you nonetheless note a certain confidence. He has been championed by various wine critics and tipped to be running the hottest property in Barbaresco right now, but he shrugs it off with a smile and reminds us that he remembers when he used to send tasting samples to critics and hear nothing back. All this changed a few years ago, but Marco is happy, quietly carrying on, tending his vines and making remarkably fine Barbaresco.
 
This estate is run on reassuringly traditional lines; the approach may adapt to conditions, but it is a question of gradual refinement rather than wholesale change. The Rocca family started producing their own Barbaresco in the 1970s from several of the region’s leading Crus, including Montestefano (approximately 270 metres above sea level and facing full south) and Montefico (within which the family own a parcel in the Bric Mentina vineyard). While the altitude in Montefico is virtually the same as Montestefano, the orientation is more south-east facing. Montestefano produces more powerful, deeper styles, whereas Montefico reveals a terrific elegance and a slightly gentler expression. In terms of manner of production, there is no temperature control during fermentation and towards the end of fermentation, Marco employs an approach called steccatura, which keeps the skins submerged for a post-fermentation maceration of 15-20 days to extract more from the fruit. The wines are then aged in 30-hectolitre Austrian oak botti (which Marco prefers to the more widely used Slavonian oak) for a minimum of 18 months.

I believe the 2019s rank with the very best vintages that I have tasted from La Ca’ Nova. The year started with a cold, wet spring, which provided ample ground water for the summer months to come. From June through to August the days were hot and dry, and fine conditions continued through September. One key requirement for high class Nebbiolo is a significant switch between day and night-time temperatures; this is particularly good for the development of aromas and the retention of acidity. The long hang time benefitted the grapes on the vines and brought them to a fine level of maturity. Marco began his harvest in mid-October – he compares the harvest conditions to 2016 and commented that the skins were wonderfully ripe allowing the same approach to extraction as he employed in 2016. Extraction is the process of drawing colour, tannin and flavour compounds from the skins – the duration and method are down to the individual winemaker’s preference but also the condition of the skins. If the skins are fragile at harvest, care is needed with extraction and often lighter, more forward wines result. If, as in the case of the 2019s, near ideal conditions have delivered grapes with perfectly healthy and ripe skins, extraction can be extended and rich, more structural wines will result.
 
What struck me on tastings the 2019s was the purity on show. These wines have great depth of fruit but such a line of purity – this is a hallmark of Marco’s minimal intervention winemaking style, but here the elegance is coupled with fine depth and power. Frankly, I was blown away by the 2019s. I think they are a touch deeper than the 2016s and seem to show a slightly more supple nature (relatively speaking). Tasting the two cru and the generic Barbaresco side by side proved fascinating; the quality of all three is sky high. We are honoured to be able to work with such a great estate and such a genuine individual as Marco. These are special wines once more.



2019 Barbaresco, La Ca’ Nova
£115 per 6 bottle case in bond
Made from younger vine fruit grown in the Cru vineyards of Montestefano, Montefico, Ovello and Cole.

Sometimes it is hard to think this is the ‘entry level’ wine. In 2019, it shows beautiful red fruits on the nose with fine purity and clarity. Understandably more supple than the two Cru wines, this has a sappy, almost creamy intensity on the palate. There is a certain softness to the ripe red fruits, cranberry, pomegranate and dark cherry. This is incredibly appealing this year retaining superb focus throughout. The slightly supple accent and the lesser mineral persistence show up when tasted next to the cru, but that is only to be expected. The 2019 can be broached early but will reward 5/6 years cellarage. Hard to resist even right now. Drink 2023-2030. (SL) 





2019 Barbaresco, Montefico ‘Vigna Bric Mentina’,
La Ca’ Nova  £140 per 6 bottle case in bond
The first of La Ca’ Nova’s single vineyard Barbaresco, ‘Vigna Bric Mentina’ in the Cru of Montefico is named in memory of Marco’s grandmother, Clementina.

This is a wine that shows in a very classic manner. Scented, lifted aromas capture hints of mint, fresh red berry, earth, spice and even sweet tobacco. Less open today, as you would expect of the site, the palate is tightly-wound, with notes of pepper, pomegranate and blood orange to the fore. Mineral nuances course through the palate with chalky, stoney notes to the finish. More ample than the 2016, there is a sublime texture here, and plenty of energy. The 2019 seems to have brought an added generosity to the Montefico as there is a terrific density of fruit currently held in check. Some might call this and old-school style Barbaresco, for me it is a stunning example. Drink 2026-2038. (SL)




2019 Barbaresco, Montestefano, La Ca’ Nova
£140 per 6 bottle case in bond

A great contrast with the Montefico stylistically, the 2019 Montestefano exudes refinement. The precise aromas with the floral, lifted notes and sumptuous juicy berry characters really signal a great vintage. Sleek and refined, there are notes of leather, aromatic herb allied to wonderfully ripe, soft-skinned berry fruits. Notes of pomegranate and yet a far duskier fruit character too, like blueberry or damson. Already showing fine complexity, with fine-grained tannins, a mineral undertow and a long-drawn flowing finish. This is showing more today than its near neighbour, as is often the case, but to taste both side by side in a decade will prove to be an immensely rewarding experience. What a classic and again that slightly more supple attack seems to simply enhance the elegance of this Cru. Drink 2026-2038. (SL)


No critic has yet tasted but I feel certain that the 2019s from La Ca’ Nova will continue to win further praise – I thought they were truly outstanding. I think we can expect some dramatic successes in the 2019 vintage in Piemonte.
 
Please let us know of your interest.
 
All the best,
 
Simon 

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