I am always interested to see what happens when the next generation takes over an Italian winery that makes wines that I enjoy. Will they follow the traditional methods or will they go to what I call “the dark side” and make modern international style wines?
I was invited to Porter House in NYC to tastes the wines of the Aurelio Settimo Winery. I have enjoyed these wines in the past and wanted to see if Tiziana Settimo was staying with the same traditional style wines as her father. Tiziana was presenting the wines so I could have all my questions answered.
The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piemonte in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows. They sold off almost all their grapes. When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards. However they continued to sell 50% of their grapes. In 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.
Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is a family affair run mostly by women. The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.
From the very beginning Tiziana made it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio. She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She fells that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character. The Barolo is aged in 2,500 to 3,500 liters oak barrels.
Only 3 wines are produced from their estate vineyards. There are 5.6 hectares of Nebbiolo and 0.9 hectares of Dolcetto. Their Rocche Dell’Annunziata vineyard is 3.42 hectares and the exposure is south and southwest. The vines are between 18 and 46 years old. There are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare and the training method is traditional Guyot. Tiziana said that the fertile, clay-calcareous, limestone, rocky soil together with the altitude (270-300 mt) and the exposure produce a full bodied but elegant and very fragrant Barolo.
All of the wines are excellent with food. At Porter House, we had them with Porcini Risotto to start followed by Heritage Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin, a great combination.
Tiziana said that she was in Boston a few days before and she had these wines with fish, including shellfish, and they all worked well together. It is my opinion that a red wine which is not on the “dark side”, is well made, and has good acidity can go with almost any type of food.
Dolcetto D’Alba DOC 2010 100% Dolcetto
Tiziana said that 2010 was a great vintage for Dolcetto.
The grapes are hand picked and vinified in stainless steel with about 7 days skin contact with a submerged cap and frequent repassing.
This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry and surprisingly good acidity. Tiziana said that she likes to keep the alcohol low on her Dolcetto, between 12% and 12-1/2% to keep the freshness so the alcohol does not overpower the fruit.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2006 100% Nebbiolo
Tiziana said that 2006 was also a very good vintage. She went on to say that this wine is produced from grapes grown on the younger vineyards facing southeast in the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. It has a shorter maceration on the skins (8 to 10 days) than the Barolo and does not see any wood. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the malolactic fermentation takes place in concrete vats of 52hl. The wine was bottled in November 2010 after spending two years in the bottle. They do not make this wine in every vintage if they feel that the alcohol content will be too high. It is a wine with good fruit and has an excellent balance between tannins and acidity. This wine was made to be drunk when released however it was showing no signs of age and could last another 5 to 10 years. $30
Barolo DOCG 2007 100% Nebbiolo
This wine is produced from the older Nebbiolo grapes. The must is in contact with the skin for 15 to 20 days with a submerged cap and frequent repassing. The wine is aged in wood for two years. The wine was bottled in March 2011 $42
Barolo” Rocche Dell ‘Annunziata” DOCG 2007
This is one of the great crus of Barolo and Tiziana said there were 23 other producers making wine from this vineyard. She considers the 2007 vintage to be an excellent one, though it was in many ways a difficult vintage because it was very hot. This is a traditional classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of black fruit especially blackberries and hints of leather, tea, spice and liquorice with good acidity. $50
I am happy to see that Tiziana is making wine like her father’s and that they are very good value for the money.
I look forward to enjoying these wines for many years to come.