2016 Ca del Baio, Barbaresco “Asili” DOCG, Piedmonte, Italy.
There’s so much to admire here in the deep ruby/garnet 2016 Asili Cru Barbersco by Ca’ del Baio, this stuff has raised the game here at this winery with beautiful sweet fruit density, polished tannins and classic Nebbiolo character, this a youthful stunner from this famous vineyard and region. I am a huge Piedmonte fan and have a soft spot for Barbaresco, as well as this Asili vineyard, which I have been drinking since first discovering it through the glorious 1996 bottling by Ceretto, and this Ca’ del Baio version is a thrilling example that should continue to get more impressive over the next 15 to 20 years, though absolutely delicious even at this very early stage. Barbaresco, a small appellation when compared to its famous neighbor Barolo, is located near the towns of Neive and Treiso which was born back in 1894, became a DOC in 1966 and got its DOCG finally in 1980, it gained fame worldwide due to the efforts of Gaja, maybe the most important producer and especially Angelo Gaja’s top three cru versions; his Sori Tildin, Sori San Lorenzo and Costa Russi, that are some of the most valuable and sought after wines in the world. This Asili, which is on the primary calcareous marls and clay along with veins of rare minerals sits up about 250 meters above sea level on a warm hillside that allows for incredible richness and complexity with this Ca’ del Baio showing all of the best inartistic flavors of this special terroir with a seeped rose petal bouquet and the vintage’s opulent fruit, highlighted by crushed raspberries, black cherry, damson plum and dense red currant that is accented by light game, earth, black licorice, a touch of lavender and wild mint, as well as faint cedar and lingering kirsch. This is fabulous Nebbiolo and is a savvy value and perfect for budget collectors or enthusiasts.

Giulio Grasso’s Ca’ del Baio, which was founded back in the early 1920’s, but didn’t start making wine under their own label until 2004, having previously sold grapes to the coop, Produttori del Barbaresco, is an eco friendly small family winery in Treiso, in the Langhe hills near the border of Neive and close to Barbaresco itself, making a range of fine Barbaresco as well as Langhe Nebbiolo, Chardonnay, Riesling, Moscato d’Asti, Barbera and Dolcetto. The traditionally crafted Asili Barbaresco, 100% de-stemmed grapes was fermented with maceration on the skins for up to 30 days in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures to preserve aromatics and fresh detail. After being pressed to a combination of large oak casks and smaller French barrels the Ca’ del Baio Asili Barbaresco was aged 24 months before bottling. The Grasso’s are gentle and transparent in their winemaking, looking for purity and nuance, which leads them to try to employ only indigenous yeasts when possible and have low sulfur in their wines, along with their sustainable vineyard practices, (they) are looking to make as a natural expression as possible. The Ca’ del Baio’s parcel at Asili is from vines that were planted between 1957 and 1999 and are on a near perfect southwest facing slope on the the mentioned classic soils which include the blue marls and clay that allows for the supple and ripe fruit detail and refined tannins. As noted in my prior reviews, this is a winery on the rise, in 2016 Giulio received a great honor, he was named “Viticulturist of the Year” by the very prestigious Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide and these 2016 Barbarescos are next level offerings that should not be missed! Ca’ del Baio is on my watch list and I highly recommend these wines, especially this Asili, plus their Pora cru and Autinbej cru Barbarescos.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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