I am pleased to offer two vintages of Barbaresco from Vietti and, in fact, two different wines.
Vietti has produced its Barbaresco Masseria for many years – this is not the name of a Cru, but rather a name given to a blend comprising fruit from two communes of Barbaresco; Neive and Treiso. The main vineyards that contribute to this wine are south-facing on clay and limestone soils and the vineyards were leased to Vietti. 2017 was the last vintage that Vietti made of this particular blend, which had developed a strong following on account of the consistently high quality it offered. It was aged for a touch longer than most Barbaresco in a combination of large oak vats and 225 litre barriques for approximately two and a half years, and therefore, as is typical for Vietti but atypical for Barbaresco, it is released at the same time as the Barolo of the same vintage. (Normally, Barbaresco is released a year earlier than Barolo).
In 2018, Vietti introduced a new Barbaresco from a parcel of vines they bought in the Roncaglie Cru. This Cru in Barbaresco itself has drawn greater attention in recent years. It lies to the west of Barbaresco, not far from the Treiso boundary. Roncaglie is oriented southwest at an altitude of 240-280 metres on calcareous, clayey soils, but, crucially, with Sant’Agata sandy marls, which are championed for the finesse that they bring to the resultant wines. In order to retain the freshness and poise of this Cru, the team at Vietti opted to use a greater propotion of large oak casks for the ageing, with a very small percentage aged in barriques. Perhaps understandably, but still rather confusingly, Vietti chose to retain the historic name ‘Masseria’ on the label as it has significance to the Currado family, so this new wine will be known as ‘Roncaglie Masseria’.
So there you have it; two different Barbaresco, each well-reviewed, from the same producer in two different vintages. And what of the vintages? 2017 was a warmer vintage that has delivered wines with ample ripe fruit, slightly fuller than the classical model, but certainly compelling when crafted by the best estates. The 2017s may well permit earlier consumption as the tannins are veiled by a volume of fruit. The 2018s show in a fresher, more poised manner – the best show fine focus and lifted aromatics.
It tells you something about a producer when they can deliver great results in vintages with different challenges and adapt from a blend to a single vineyard wine with such ease. Please see below for two equally enthusiastic notes from Antonio Galloni on vinous.com.