I was having lunch with a winemaker when Dino Tantawi, owner of Vignaioli Selections, walked into the restaurant. I have known Dino for a long time and have great respect for his portfolio of wines. We talked and Dino invited me to lunch at Baker & Co. the following week featuring the wines of Hilberg-Pasquero.
The winery is located in Roero in the Piedmont region of Italy between the Tanaro River and the Turin highland. It was founded in the early 20th century on Bricco Gatto in the village of Priacca in southern Piedmont. It is not far from the Barolo and Barbaresco areas and is separated from them by the Tanaro.
Michelangelo Pasquero, known as Mikio, is the current co-owner of the estate and the wine maker and grape grower. His great grandfather began producing wine in 1915. Mikio’s interest in organic farming took him to Sweden and Germany, which had more advanced organic farming methods. In Germany he met Annette Hilberg and she became his wife.
The speaker at the lunch was Annette Hilberg.
Annette said the winery is biodynamic and they do not use any pesticides or herbicides in the vineyard. Only natural yeast (yeast on the grapes) is used and no sulfites are added to the wine. They only use their own grapes and the harvest is by hand.
Grapes are pressed in a standard wine press similar to those used in the 1960’s. The wine pressing is manual. Punching down of the cap for the red wine is done by hand. They follow the phases of the moon. On the back label it states, “Moon phases influence sea tides, the life of animals, plants and humanity. Like our ancestors, we respect nature, its cycles and potential energy to get the best possible expression of its fruit.”
Brachetto Secco “Vareij’ 2014 made from 75% Brachetto and 25% Barbera d’Alba depending on the vintage. The production zone is Bricco Gatti. The four-acre vineyard is at 780 feet with a southeast/southwest exposure. The soil is clay and marl. Fermentation is in open-top tanks for 5/6 days and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and 3 months in bottle before release. Only 600 cases are produced. This is a well-balanced wine with aromas and favors of red fruit and hints of roses, cloves and strawberries. It is an easy drinking wine.
Annette said the Brachetto is a very difficult grape to work with and difficult to make it into a dry wine. It needs the Barbera to give it structure and acidity. This was the first wine they bottled in 1994.
Barbera d’Asti DOC 2014 made from 100% Barbera d’Alba. The soil is limestone and clay. Fermentation is for 5 to 6 days in open-top tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months, one month in used barriques and 8 months in the bottle before release. The wine has ripe fruit aromas with hints of raspberry, cherry and a touch of strawberry. This is an easy drinking and a very food friendly wine. Annette said 2014 was a fruit forward vintage.
Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2013 made from 100% Barbera d’Alba (Monselli Cru) Production zone Priocca d’Alba. The 2.4 acres vineyard is at 840 feet and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is limestone and white clay marl. Fermentation is for 5 to 6 days in open- top tanks followed by a 14-day maceration period. The wine was immediately transferred to new French oak barriques for the malolactic fermentation and then aged in new French barriques for 22 months and 9 months in bottle before release. This is an intense Barbera with hints of strawberries, blackberries, violets and a touch of vanilla
Nebbiolo”Alba DOC made from 100% Nebbiolo d”Alba. Production area Priocca d”Alba. The 2.4 vineyard is at 840 feet. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is clay, marl with limestone. 5 to 6 days fermentation period in open tanks is followed by a 21 day maceration period. The wine was transferred into new French oak barriques for malolactic fermentation and is aged in French barriques mostly new for 22 months. After 9 months in bottle the wine is released. The wines drink like a Barolo with hints of red fruit, violets, rose, licorice and vanilla.
Annette had us taste the 2008 and the 2010 Nebbiolo side by side because these were more classic vintages which will age. The 2009 was softer with more fruit. While it will also age, it was more approachable.
Baker & Co served very good Italian food which went very well with the wine. I was very impressed by their Roman style pizza.