2018 La Spinetta, Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG “Ca’ Di Pian” Piedmonte, Italy.
One of my secret favorite wines, La Spinetta’s Ca” Di Pian Barbera is a wine I like to stock up on and drink with simple meals and this 2018 is easily a vintage to continue my trend, I love the expressive fruit, jazzy acidity and dark floral aromatics, it is a wine that goes great with all kinds of foods, especially classic northern Italian cuisine as well as our local dishes, here in California. I have long been a fan of Giorgio Rivetti’s wines and while the Nebbiolo bottlings are legendary, it has always been the seriously taken Barbera at La Spinetta that has thrilled me, especially the single Cru Gallina and this Ca’ Di Pian for its ability to be noteworthy in quality, but still a non pretense, pure and authentic wine that makes for casual pleasure. Barbera and Docetto, known for ages as peasant wines, when grown in the right spot and made with passion can rise to unexpected heights and complexity, in particularly for Barbera in the hills of Asti, Alba and Roero where it thrives on the same soils as the Nebbiolo enjoys. The Ca’ Di Pian is purple/garnet colored and inviting in the glass with black currants, cherry and blackberry fruits leading the way on the full bodied palate, it gains depth as it opens and gets nicely textural, while still very lively and tartly fresh, adding hints of sweet violets, minty herbs, anise, earth and touch of mocha and cedary wood. This Barbera Superiore gets a treatment in the cellar that is close to what you’d expect from a known perfectionist, it is crafted more like a Burgundy, or a California Pinot than the old school and rustic version of this grape, but that extra care is appreciated each time you open a bottle of the Ca’ Di Pian. The La Spinetta lineup is impressive, and throughout the range there is quality, though it is hard not lust after the top set of Barbaresco offerings, the Valeriano, the Gallina and Starderi, and the Campe Barolo, which are some of Piedmonte’s most sexy bottles.
The Rivetti family, Giorgio’s dad and two brothers, started humbly and were mainly growers and makers of Moscato d’Asti into the late eighties before Giorgio pushed La Spinetta into the wine world’s spotlight with a series of fabulous Barbaresco and Barbera wines in the nineties. After which Rivetti turned his attention to Piedmonte’s King of Wines, Barolo, first making a single cru version with his epic 2000 Campe Barolo, which I was lucky enough to taste as a cask sample in 2002, when I first met and tasted with Giogio in San Francisco. I have been a huge fan ever since that first tasting, and I’ve been grateful to have had the opportunity to catch up with Rivetti a few more times over the years and I have learned a lot from him. The winery in Barbaresco has notably focused on native varietals and sustainable farming, while not being afraid to change it up a bit in the cellar, where they blend modern techniques with traditional methods. This Ca’ Di Pian, which is a full Superiore DOCG, meaning it was from smaller yields and saw a year in wood, 100% Barbera, is sourced from mainly younger vines grown in two premier sites, in the Castagnole area of presigious Asti zone, including the Bionzo Vineyard, which is also the source of La Spinetta’s single cru bottling. The vines are between 10 and 25 years old about now, set on the calcareous soils with classic marl, sand, limestone and clay at close to 300 meters of elevation with a perfect Southern exposure. The Ca’ Di Pian, as the winery notes, sees a short fermentation and maceration in tank, it lasts for 6 or 7 days, but still has plenty of extraction, as this wine shows, before being aged 12 months in a mix of new and old, medium toasted, French oak barriques, allowing for a clean, sleek and elegant style. At this year’s Slow Wine event, I also tasted La Spinetta’s Langhe Nebbiolo 2019, which was also an excellent value, with grapes sourced from the younger part of the Starderi Cru (The famous Barbaresco vineyard) in Neive, along with the entry level 2019 Barolo Garretti and 2019 Barbaresco Bordini, that were youthfully fresh, but showing nicely as well.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive