More Fine 2010 Barolo Visits: Paolo Scavino

It was very hard to find a bad wine, even a mediocre one, among the 2010 new releases that I tasted in Alba back in May, so that made my afternoon visits to individual producers (the blind-tasting sessions ran all morning) very pleasurable indeed. One that I particularly enjoyed was to the Paolo Scavino estate, where Elisa Scavino treated me to their whole gamut of Piedmont wines. Scavino is a fourth-generation, family-owned producer.

Scavino family. Elisa is second from left.

Scavino family. Elisa is second from left.

.

The winery and family headquarters are located in Castiglione Falletto, but the Scavinos own pieces of 19 different crus, scattered through the many communes of the Barolo zone.

.

Scavino vineyards

Barolo crus in light purple; Scavino vineyards in dark purple

.

Their most prized bottlings are:

  • Barolo Carabric (mostly Castiglione Falletto commune),
  • Barolo Bricco Ambrogio (the only cru of the small zone of Roddi),
  • Barolo Monvigliero (the grand cru of Verduno),
  • Barolo Cannubi (one of the most famous crus of Barolo township),
  • Barolo Bric del Fiasc (Castiglione Falletto commune), and
  • Barolo Rocche del Annunziata (the great La Morra cru).

In addition to those, the family also makes the classic Piedmontese gamut: a white (atypically vinified from Chardonnay and a little Viognier), Vino Rosso, a simple red blended from young vines of typical Piedmont varieties, plus Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo Langhe. So, as you can easily understand, these necessitate many small, separate vinifications. All the “simpler” wines – in Piedmont, it’s always wise to say “simple” in quotation marks – are fermented and aged only in stainless steel, while all the Barolos undergo malolactic fermentation in used barriques and later age in large botti, to finally rest for some months in stainless steel before bottling.

.

Here are the wines I tasted, with my impressions and some of the remarks about them that Elisa Scavino made as we tasted.

Sorriso 2013:  A refreshing white wine (especially after a whole morning of young Nebbiolo), with a lovely Viognier nose, lively and friendly on the palate (apple and quince notes). Quite enjoyable. Elisa says this wine began as a project for the family’s use and only gradually grew into a wine for the portfolio. Slow, low-temperature fermentation, and no malo, in order to preserve the bright acidity.

Vino Rosso 2013:  A cuvee from young vines – Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and a little Merlot. Big red fruit nose, pleasing simple red fruit on the palate, soft tannins, good acidity: a straightforwardly enjoyable wine for everyday meals. Elisa: “No wood at all on this wine or the Dolcetto or the Barbera.”

Dolcetto 2013:  Classic Dolcetto nose; on the palate, light sweet fruit, with great clarity and purity. Very fine and charming, in the best Dolcetto manner. Elisa: “In Piemonte, we always start an important dinner with Dolcetto: it lets you begin gently before you drink the big wines.”

.

???????????????????????????????

.

Barbera d’Alba 2013:  Textbook Barbera nose and Alba palate – round, fresh red fruit, a little peppery, with a clean, briskly acid finish. Very nice indeed. From a La Morra cru, Elisa said, with eastern exposure, not too warm, so it ripens slowly. “La Morra gives great elegance, both to Nebbiolo and to Barbera.”

Barbera d’Alba Affinato in Caratti 2012:  According to Elisa, this special Barbera comes from Bricco Ambrogio in Roddi, from vines that were planted in the 1950s. I found it very intense and complex, more serious and fine than Scavino’s basic Barbera, but no less authentically varietal. Elisa: “I like Barbera with a little age, because it gives the wine a chance to pull together and harmonize.”

Langhe Nebbiolo 2012:  Intensely tobacco-y Nebbiolo nose; big, soft fruit on the palate. Dark flavors, but lightish and live on the palate. Very good and quite drinkable. Elisa: “For us, this is an introduction to Barolo, a way to come to know Nebbiolo – less demanding or intimidating than Barolo, a wine that can be drunk younger than Barolo. Langhe Nebbiolo especially needs to be top quality because of that.”

Barolo 2010:  A lovely example of the vintage, with great fruit and real charm: impressive structure as well, as is a hallmark of the 2010 vintage. Very, very fine. “From seven different crus in Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, and Serralunga d’Alba, the selection depending on the vintage, blended to make the traditional Barolo,” says Elisa. “It should really be called Barolo Classico, but Italian law won’t let us do that.”

Barolo Carabric 2010:  Fine fruit, great structure – a fine wine, surprisingly drinkable already. Elisa: “Beautiful drinkability and great complexity, without being huge or overpowering – the 2010 vintage was like that right from the start – a beautiful vintage.”

Barolo Bricco Ambrogio 2010:  Cherry-sweet fruit from the only cru of Roddi. Intense underpinnings of tar/tobacco/earth/mushroom. Very fine and quite distinctive. Elisa: “Full south exposure, lots of limestone in the soil, vines nearing 20 years of age. Good fruit focus in this cru, always.”

Barolo Monvigliero 2010:  Black fruit, earth, mushrooms in the aroma. Black, sweet fruit on the palate. Again, distinctive – a huge structure, but with delicacy: the interplay of strength and delicacy is fascinating. A very, very great wine. Elisa: “The grand cru of Verduno – limestone and chalk soil. The grapes are always a little bit spicy.”

.

???????????????????????????????

.

Barolo Cannubi 2010:  Earth, dried flowers, funghi porcini in the nose, and in the mouth mineral, rock, funghi, then fruit – in short, classic Cannubi. A very great wine. Elisa: “We lease this vineyard year by year, since 1985. It’s unquestionably one of the best vineyards we work with. Largely Michet clone of Nebbiolo.”

Barolo Bric del Fiasc 2010:  In nose and palate, earth, tobacco, funghi, sottobosco; great fruit and minerality; very welcoming. Its underlying complexity opens slowly and gently. Elisa: “Our cru since 1921, the first we vinified as a single cru, in 1978. Very complex soil in this vineyard. For me, since I grew up with it, this is a classic expression of Barolo, a bit introverted and needing to be learned, but very long-aging and persistent.”

Barolo Rocche dell’ Annunziata Riserva 2008:  Simply gorgeous. Big, sweet, dark fruit, great structure and freshness: years to go. Lovely. Elisa: “Fantastic year, 2008. A very warm vineyard, with white, sandy soil, great drainage. We have one and a half hectares, which we are replanting, because the vines are too old. We’re using our own massal selection for the new vines.”

.

???????????????????????????????

.

This was the last wine I tasted that afternoon. I couldn’t imagine a better way to end a visit in Piedmont, with this majestic Barolo serving as the capstone of an impressive array of wines, consistent from start to finish in style and quality.

9 Responses to “More Fine 2010 Barolo Visits: Paolo Scavino”

  1. Tom Maresca Says:

    Joe: This just keeps on getting more mysterious. I’ve never encountered a Monte degli Angeli in Piedmont. I did some quick research and found out a few minimal facts. I don’t know where the vineyards are (they should — emphasis on should — be somewhere in the Barolo zone), though the winery seems to be in Monferrato, which is definitely not in the Barolo zone. It’s owned by the Sperone brothers – I know nothing about them, either good or bad — and you’re right, the wine suddenly seems to be ubiquitous here, and amazingly inexpensive. Frankly, even if they’re working with purchased grapes, I don’t know how they can offer a Barolo at the prices I’ve seen: I’m not aware of any growers in the Barolo zone who accepted rock-bottom prices for 2010 grapes or base wines. So, given my fundamental distrust of human nature, I have to be suspicious. This may be totally legit, but it may equally be a scam.

    Re the ’06 Produttori di Barbaresco: the Produttori sources all its grapes from members of the Consorzio. In ’06, if I remember correctly, they opted not to bottle any cru wines, since there were already many in the pipeline, so all the crus went into the classic Barbaresco, which indeed made that a spectacular bargain.

  2. Joe Calandrino Says:

    Tom:

    There seems to be a rash of generic 2010 Barolos and Barbarescos coming on the market, usually between 20-30 USD (sometimes less than this for Barbaresco). Should we be trying these, considering the vintage? In the world of wine, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t; but wouldn’t it be grand if 2010 provides us with declassified wines of quality at a fair price for early consumption?

    Best,
    Joe

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      Joe:
      I’m not sure what you’re describing here. Declassified wine can’t be labeled Barolo or Barbaresco. By “generic” Barolos do you mean non-cru wines — what used to be the norm for Barolo and Barbaresco, wines blended from different parts of the zone? Even so, those are no longer inexpensive (if they ever were). If you’re coming across bottles labelled DOCG Barolo or Barbaresco of the 2010 vintage at $30 and under a bottle, I’d be pretty suspicious. I’ve never seen any priced anywhere near that low, and the almost universal praise that the 2010 vintage has gotten makes it very unlikely that anyone is dumping the wine, especially since it’s just arriving now. In short, I’m puzzled by your comment, and — given your usual acuteness and accuracy — a little bit distressed about what this situation might mean.

      • Joe Calandrino Says:

        Hi Tom:

        I didn’t mean to be so mysterious: just didn’t have enough info at my fingertips when I posted.

        I am suspicious and puzzled by these bottles as well, but, for example, what is the right approach to something like Monte Degli Angeli 2010 Barolo DOCG ($22)? Avoid, or use for near-term drinking? One could hope that it might have a glimmer of the vintage, no?

        I have heard that sometimes the better producers “declassify” (sorry for using this term so loosely) some of their wines (lesser lots to be sure) and sell to consorzio-types for bottling as non-cru Barolo and Barbaresco ( I have a distinct recollection of this kind of thing in the 2006 Barbaresco vintage–Produttori del Barbaresco released a very decent wine in that vintage). Set me straight about this practice.

        Is the kind of Barolo I mentioned a scandal, or something even more nefarious? Regardless, it’s all very embarrassing being so misinformed. Distressing to us both!

  3. tom hyland Says:

    Tom: A great estate with superb wines. You captured the character of this family and their offerings very well.

  4. Tablewine Says:

    I’ve always been a fan of their traditional Dolcetto.

  5. Ed McCarthy Says:

    Great news about the superb 1978 Baolos, finally ready after 35 years!

    • Tom Maresca Says:

      I think you meant to attach this to another post, but I agree with you entirely: It is great news, and the ones I’ve tasted have been spectacularly good. Really, the Piedmont is a specially blessed land.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s