A Traditional Barbaresco Dream

Barbaresco’s 2013 vintage promises to take its place with the finest ever. Antonio Galloni writes that the year’s wines “embody all of the qualities that make Nebbiolo one of the world’s most noble grapes; soaring aromatics, pulsating energy, structure, and, most importantly, the rare ability to transmit the essence of site.”

You can find all of these qualities in the superb 2013 Barbarescos from La Ca’ Nova. Sourced from two of Barbaresco’s top vineyards—Montefico and Montestefano—they are classic expressions of these great terroirs through the lens of this epic vintage.

Deep Roots

Five generations of the Rocca family have tended vines on the Barbaresco commune’s eastern slopes bordering Neive, and current patriarch Pietro Rocca began bottling his own production in the the early 1970s. The quality of the Ca’ Nova fruit has always been superlative, as evidenced by the fact that it used to be sold to Angelo Gaja.

It begins, of course, with two providential sites. Montestefano is revered for its powerful structure and longevity, courtesy of its steep south-facing slope of sandy-veined blue limestone marl. Ca’ Nova’s rendering perfectly expresses this character, described in A Wine Atlas of the Langhe as “the most Baroloesque of the Barbarescos.”

Ca’ Nova’s other cru Barbaresco comes from the prized Bric Mentina sub-cru of Montestefano’s immediate neighbor to the north, Montefico. From sandier soils, and a more southeasterly exposure, Ca’ Nova’s Vigna Bric Mentina is a Barbaresco of great richness, structure and complexity.

Personalized Traditionalism

Pietro, and his sons Marco and Ivan, purely express these great terroirs through very old-school methods, with one personal twist. The month-long native yeast fermentation takes place in stainless steel tank and conical wooden vats, without temperature control and using the ultra-traditional cappello sommerso for gentle extraction.

The twist is in using Austrian oak, rather than the usual Slovenian, for the family’s classic large barrels (botti). Untoasted and neutral, Pietro calls them “the best-quality barrels I have ever seen.”

The results in 2013 are Barbarescos of quintessential structure and finesse. Considering that Pietro has been making these fine wines for more than forty years, it is a mystery that they haven’t been more widely discovered.

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