Winery Profile: La Spinetta
By Kerry Winslow
It has been my lucky pleasure to enjoy the company of and taste the wines of Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta, one of Italy’s great producers, in fact this is my third time lucky and every time I learn more and gain an even greater respect for the man and his wines. In the Nineties I had read about him and his personal pursuit of perfection in both the noble Nebbiolo grape and the common Barbera, a grape I became addicted to and one that still holds a special place in my heart and on my palate. After sampling his amazing Barbera’s, of which “Gallina” blew my mind and the Ca’ di Pian which takes money from my wallet every vintage without fail, I was able to meet the man himself. On my first meeting with Rivetti we tasted all his Bararesco’s and it was a revelation, it was like tasting a “La Tache” or a “Richebourg” if I had to compare and I found that I had a passion for his “Vigneto Starderi” Cru Barbaresco, one like that of his Barbera still is alive and well in me today, the red labelled Starderi for me has the sirens song, it calls to me.
As well as the sublime Barbaresco La Spinetta makes, they also have Barolo, and I can proudly say I got to taste the very first public release of that wine from a barrel when I first tasted Giorgio’s wines with him, that was the 2000 La Spinetta Della Campe Barolo. La Spinetta’s flagship Barolo, the Campe, has reached the top echelon of Barolo in the years between then and now and Rivetti has added a new Barolo, the Garetti, to his line up from a vineyard bought a few years ago and the first vintage for release is 2006. When I caught up with Giorgio this year he told me that his first Campe the 2000 won a vintage tasting in Barolo in 2010, the tenth year after harvest, against the likes of Gaja, Giacosa, Vietti and others, which is amazing considering it was the wineries first go at Barolo! I felt as if I had tasted part of their history in the making and happy for Giorgio in his pride and success.
The 2005 La Spinetta Campe is one of the most elegant and textured young Barolo’s I’ve had, and while it may not be a blockbuster vintage like 2001 or the yet to be released 2006, it is a wonderful wine that has class and Grand Cru Burgundy like charms, made all that much better by being able to enjoy it with its creator! While the Vigneto Starderi is my all time La Spinetta favorite, and his Barbera Ca’di Pian the one I buy the most of, the Campe Barolo is a very special wine to me.
2007 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vigneto Starderi Vursu, Neive, Piedmonte.*
The Neive Cru “Vigneto Starderi” is for me pehaps the finest site in Barbaresco and for me rivals the Cru’s of Gaja, Sori Tilden, San Lorenzo and Costa Russi for beauty and complexity of fruit, though Starderi is 100% Nebbiolo, while Gaja’s famous threesome are usually blended with Barbera and are classified as Langhe Rosso. Both Gallina and Valeirano are wonderful wines as well, but it is always Starderi that moves me just that bit extra. The elegance and subtle complexities seduce very much the same way a fine Chambertin or Richebourg do, making Starderi one of the great wines of the world, no question. The 2007 Vigneto Starderi is a masterpiece and will only get better and more refined with 5 or 10 years in bottle, but as with most La Spinetta wines it is almost perfect now with style and elegance showing already with lush fruit and earthy depth, I should say otherworldly layers that unfold in seamless grace. The nose is heavenly with rose petals and lavender oil with hints of warm sweet toasty oak and fennel laced cherries. The palate is firm with framing ripe tannins and lifting acidity, a true Nebbiolo is structure, but with a Grand Cru Burgundy like silkiness and length. Tarry cherries, plum, currant and licorice dazzle in the mouth and truffle and mineral notes add to the whole, while the oak is subtle playing a very mild background role with just a hint of vanilla. The lingering finish is crisp and long with sweet herbs and raspberry aftertaste. This wine is sublime and brilliant, Giorgio Rivetti is on the top of his game, this Starderi is his crown jewel.
($165-180 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive
*Due out this Summer, 2011