2016 Ca’ del Baio, Barbaresco DOCG “Vallegrade” Piedmonte, Italy.
In recent years Ca’ del Baio has emerged as one of the top quality Barbaresco producers and their 2016 efforts are next level wines and best of all they are incredible values, especially the fabulously endowed 2016 Vallegrande Cru Barbaresco, which I just couldn’t resist trying. There has been a lot of buzz about the 2016 vintage in Barolo and Barbaresco, all which is being proved well deserved, in fact I think it will easily eclipse the much heralded 2010, as I have found the wines to have an edge in textural grace, but still with outstanding structure and depth, these are wines that have legendary potential, in particular the Barolo offerings, though this Ca’ del Baio is pretty amazing stuff with exceptional Nebbiolo purity and stunning length. These 2016s are not shy, they have close to 15% natural alcohols and revel in their density, but without a doubt they hold it all together with sublime integration and no flab, these are bold, powerful and impactful Nebbiolos that somehow still show the grapes most beautiful features, as this Vallegrande by Ca’ del Baio shows. Starting with classic Barbaresco aromatic charm and a delicate earthy seduction with seeped rose petals, dried lilacs, brandied cherries, saddle leather and truffle the Vallegrande hits its stride on the palate with a full force of flavors including damson, plum, black cherry, forrest vine picked berries along with a background of complexities like anise, balsamic dipped strawberry, orange rind, cedar and mineral notes. The wine evolves and elevates in the glass, it gets better and better, resolving and finessing its tannins and gaining stellar length, all pointing to an amazing long life and potential here, I’m glad to have a stash of 2016s to hold! This garnet/brick hued Vallegrande 2016 has loads of character and is very inviting making it an easy buy at the price and it goes gloriously with rustic cuisine, it certainly impresses at this stage, Nebbiolo lovers should stock up on a few bottles to enjoy over the next 10 to 15 years.

The Ca’ del Baio winery, with estate vineyards based in Treiso, a village near Barbaresco, is owned by the Grasso family, with this label being the forth generation, but the historic family have been grapegrowers and winemakers since 1680. For more than 20 years, the Grasso’s have had the well-respected consultant Beppe Caviola proving guidance and he has led this winery to new heights working with the family to perfect their methods in both the vineyards and in the cellar, focusing on quality sustainable farming and bringing out the terroir personalities in the wines. It’s the little things here that make a difference like In the winery Ca’ del Baio prefers to use of native (natural or indigenous) yeasts in the primary fermentation process, which they believe allows each wine to express itself to the fullest and they limit the use of sulphur dioxide to the absolute minimum so as to ensure they fruit is not muted and we the idea that their bottles will age better and correctly, all of which seems to be the case here with their gorgeous Vallegrande Cru Barbaresco. The Vallegrande or Valgrande site is well regarded and has been well recognized for its quality since the 1800s with Ca’ del Baio having a number of Nebbiolo parcels within the Vallegrande Cru, all facing west to capture the last rays of the sun and keeping slightly cooler for maximum depth and balance. This Cru sits in Tresio and is the most near the winery, set on bluish clayey-limestone marl soils and with a set of vines that were planted back in 1967, its a place that perfectly suits the traditional style Ca’ del Baio uses on its all de-stemmed grapes with the mentioned native ferment with cool stainless steel, with almost two weeks of maceration before pressing and then aged a minimum of 24 months in large Slovenian oak casks. If you are looking for a wildly exciting and age worthy Barbaresco, one that you can almost guilt free open in its fleshy youth or hold, then Ca’ del bail should be on your radar!
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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