In the January edition of Decanter magazine Tom Maresca ponders the use of new French barriques in Barolo and Barbaresco.
Traditionally the wines were aged in botti, large barrels of Slavonian oak. He believes the use of the smaller barriques results in a spectrum of atypical vanilla flavours and greater extraction of oak tannins into an already tannic wine. His conclusion is, perhaps unsurprisingly, that only those producers who employed new oak judiciously have ended up with classic Nebbiolo flavours.
One producer who he considers has had spectacular results is Cavallotto Fratelli, with whom we have worked for many years. The two brothers, Alfio and Giuseppe, run their 23 hectares on the slopes above Castiglione Falletto organically (the first in the region to follow organic methods). They rely on a “˜hands off ‘ approach using mostly large Botti which allow the wines to breathe and develop naturally without additional oak extraction. The results are exquisite and their offerings make up some of the most elegant, complex and ageworthy Italian wines on our list.
Of the three wines awarded the top rating of five stars in Decanter, two were from Cavalotto.
Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe 1998
Big and still opening; all the classic Nebbiolo flavours still emerging. Has years of life yet. 2009-2025. *****
Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vgnolo 1998
A bit less forceful and expressive than the Vigna San Giuseppe. 2009- 2022. *****