Barolo, Barbaresco and Pre-Phylloxera Barbera

The Elvio Cogno Winery, situated on the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello in the Langhe region of Piedmont, is a favorite destination of mine when I am in the area.  I visit there not only for the wines, but also because Valter Fissore and his wife Nadia are very gracious hosts. Nadia is the daughter of the legendary Elvio Cogno.

Valter and Nadia

Valter and Nadia

Valter was in NYC recently and invited me to a tasting of his wines and lunch at Felidia restaurant.

For more information on the Cogno Winery http://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/a-unique-white-and-traditional-barolo-at-the-elvio-cogno-winery/

The WinesIMG_3029

Barbera d’Alba “PRE-Phylloxera” DOC. Made from 100% Barbera. Valter said that the vineyard is over 120 years old. He rents the vineyard, which is situated in Berri close to La Morra. The vineyard is only 3,400 square meters. The vines are vertically trellised and Guyot pruned and the vineyard is at 520 meters. The grapes are harvested in the beginning of October. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pump over. Aging takes place for 12 months in large Slavonia oak casks and another 6 months of bottle age before release. Only 1,800 bottles are produced.

This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry and a touch of spice. It is a Barbera that will age. I was very impressed with this wine. $60

Valter explained that the vines come from pre-grafted plants propagated by cuttings that they have maintained over many years and therefore they have the original Barbera characteristics. The terrain is sandy-chalk, which is a natural protection for the vines from phylloxera.

Valter said that this wine was something he always wanted to do and it is also a tribute to his father-in-law, Elvio Cogno, who made a pre-phylloxera Dolcetto d’Alba “Boschi di Berri” when he was at the Marcarini Winery.IMG_3022

Barbaresco “Bordini” DOCG made from Lampia, a sub-variety of Nebbiolo. The vineyard is at 250 meters and the vine training is vertical trellised with Guyot pruning. The vineyard is in Neive. The harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pump over. The post-fermentation maceration is for 20 days with submerged cap.

The wine remains on the lees for 60 days. Ageing is for 12/14 months in large Slovenian oak barrels and it is in bottle six months before release. $43

Valter spoke about the three main clones of Nebbiolo: Lampia, Michet and Rosè. He said that the nurseries in Italy were now producing vines that are a combination of all three, taking the best characteristics if each. They would be mostly Lampia with some Michet and a little Rosè. He also pointed out that because of natural pollenization, this may be happening in his own vineyards.IMG_3026

Barolo Cascina Nuova DOCG 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia & Michet) The vineyard is at 380 meters with a southern exposure. It is the youngest vineyard. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the vines are vertical trellised with Guyot pruning. The harvest takes place in October. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pumping over and a maceration of 30 to 40 days. The wine is aged in 40HL oak barrels for 2 years and in bottle for another 6 months before release.

Valter said that 2009 was one of his favorite vintages because it has a lot of fruit and is more approachable. $43IMG_3024

Barolo “Bricco Pernice” DOCG 2006 100%.  It is made from a sub-variety of Nebbiolo called Lampia. The vineyard is 300 meters above sea level with 5000 vines per hectare and faces southward. The grapes are from the finest vineyards in Novello, in the most historic part of the Ravera cru. Harvest is in October. Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with pumping over and 30 days maceration with submerged cap. It is aged for 24 months in large Slovenian oak barrels 25/30 HL. It remains on the lees for 90 days and spends12 months in bottle before it is released. This is a well-structured and elegant Barolo. 9,000 bottles were produced. $85IMG_3028

Barolo “Vigna Elena” Riserva DOCG 2008. This wine is made from 100% Rosè, a sub-variety of Nebbiolo. Valter said he is one of the few to do a Barolo with 100% Rosè. The vineyards are 380 feet above sea level and face southward. There are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vineyard is 1 hectare. The harvest is in October and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with automatic pump-over with a post fermentation maceration of 30 days and a submerged cap. The wine is aged for 36 months in 40HL Slovenian oak barrels. Valter said the he only uses native yeasts. The wine is left on the lees for 60 days, and undergoes 12 months bottle aging before it is released. Valter pointed out that this wine is only made in great vintages. He also said that 2008 was an excellent year and it made a very traditional style Barolo. The wine has typical Nebbiolo aromas of roses, tobacco and a hint of liquorice. 5, 000 bottles produced. $90

When it comes to Barbareso and Barolo Valter is a traditionalist. He feels that a long maceration makes the tannins softer and is necessary to make a complex wine with all the necessary aromas and flavors. He will only use botte grande. Barriques extract too much from the wood into the wine and he would not use them for Barolo or Barbaresco.IMG_3025

Barolo “Ravera” DOCG 2000. It is made from the Lampia and Michet, sub varieties of Nebbiolo. The vineyard is 380 feet meter above sea level, with 4,000 vines per hectare and faces southward. Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with automatic pump over, maceration for 30 days with submerged cap and on the lees for 90 days. 24 months of aging in 25/30HL Slovenian oak barrels and six months in bottle before it is released. He called Ravera the most important Cru in Novello and went on to say that the mostly calcareous soil (classic blue clay) of this vineyard adds elegance and structure to the wine, making it ideal for aging. 15,000 bottles produced. $N/A I had tasted this wine from the barrel when I visited the winery two years ago. The barrel sample was very Pinot Noir like but now it is pure Nebbiolo.

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6 Comments

Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Cogno- Marcarini, Pre-Phylloxera Barbera, Walter Fissore

6 responses to “Barolo, Barbaresco and Pre-Phylloxera Barbera

  1. Tom Maresca

    Charles:

    Nice tribute to a great winemaker. I think (and I’m pretty sure you agree) that Valter Fissore has entered the ranks of Alba’s elite tier of winemakers.

    Tom

  2. Ciao, Tom
    Yes, I agree
    Charles

  3. Tom Maresca

    Charles;

    Your post reminded me that I had been saving a bottle of the 2010 Cogno pre-phylloxera Barbera, which I opened with tonight’s dinner (broiled lamb, baked potato, mixed salad). It was terrific. Elegant understates it: this wine was svelte, and at the same time complex, with a depth of Barbera character that I’ve rarely tasted before. If this is an example of what vines on their own roots used to taste like, phylloxera was a greater curse than I’ve ever imagined.

    Tom

  4. Chris C

    Has Cogno changed distributors in New York ? cc

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