WINEMAKER / VIGNAIOLO: Fabrizio Ressia
Excerpts from the book “Barbaresco MGA” av Alessandro Masnaghetti
The Barbaresco production zone, officially delimited in 1966 with the recognition of DOC (controlled appellation) status, has remained unchanged to this day and takes the territory of 4 different townships (as opposed to the eleven of Barolo): Barbaresco, Neive, and Treiso, which fall entirely within the appellation boundaries, and Alba, only marginally part of the production zone, more precisely with the small area of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio. According to the production rules currently in place, Barbaresco, as a wine which, since 1980, enjoys a controlled and guaranteed status as an appellation (DOCG), must respect the following parameters:
Grape variety: 100% Nebbiolo.
Maximum production per hectare: 8 metric tons or 54 hectoliers or 7,200 bottles of wine.
Minimum legal ageing: 26 months starting from the 1st of November after the harvest, 9 of which in wood barrels. The term “Riserva” can be used on the label when the wine has been cellared for 50 months, calculated once again from the 1st of November after the harvest.
Minimum alcohol content: 12.5% vol.
Minimum total acidity: 4.5 grams per liter.
Minimum dry extract: 22 grams per liter.
On the label – in addition to the appellation name Barbaresco and, in certain cases, the specification of “Riserva” status – can appear: Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (MGA or “cru” (e.g. Barbaresco Asili). Vigina (“vineyard”), but only when used along with the name of a MGA (e.g. Barbaresco Montefico Vigina Bric Mentina). In this last case, the addition of the word “Vigina” is not necessarily an indication of superior quality compared to that of a Barbaresco which carries solely the MGA indication, and this despite the fact that the use of the word “Virgina” obliges the producer to reduce yields by 10%, from 8 to 7.2 tons per hectare (from 3.2 to 2.88 tons per acre).
THE TERRITORY Located just a few kilometres to the northeast of Barolo, the Barbaresco appellation extands over a smaller area, one which likewise falls within the more ample area known as the Langhe. This appellation extends in one sole block characterized by a long and ramified hillside ridge delimited to the north by the valley of the Tanaro river, to the west by the narrow valley of the Elvio stream, and to the east by the valley of the Tinella stream This long ridge, which begins just beyond cappelletto in the township of Treiso and descends towards the Tanaro river valley, can be divided in turn into two different slopes: one to the east, cooler and smaller, and the other tho the west, decisively larger and more diversified and in general, warmer as well.
THE SOIL The Barbaresco appellation is part of the “Bacino terziario piemontese” (the Piedmontese teritary basin) and is characterized by marly soils, by sandstone, and by sands of varying color and dimension of grain. These soils can then be further divided inti two large categories: Tortoniano-Serravalliano and, more specifically, the Formazioni di Lequio, and Tortoniano, or the Sant’Agata Fossili Marls, two soils types which we find, respectively, at Serralunga d’Alba and at La Morra in the Barolo production zone. Even if your knowledge of the two wines in question is limited, you are probably aware that Barolo and Barbaresco have different characteristics; more structured and more in need of aging the first, more elegant and readier when young the second, as though the soils, consequently, had no influence on the final result.
Neive – 44°42’56.59”N 8°6’23.37”E
Overall surface: 170.97 acres
Surface and vines: 57%
Altitude: approx. 720 – 1215 ft
Grape varieties: nebbiolo (49%), barbera (16%), dolcetto (11%), Langhe rosso (8%), Langhe bianco (10%), moscato (6%)
From the Rondò of Neive, the rotary just below the populated center of the township, virtually all the way to the hamlet of Gavello, the vineyards on the left side of the road are all part of the San Cristoforo cru. A very sizeable surface, which, touches the highest point in this sector of the township – not far from the splendid panoramic site of San Cristoforo estate – and one which is quite varied. The dominating and very open position on high means that even sites which are theoretically cooler give highly respectable results, wines of good structure though at times a bit austere in character which require some years of bottle age to fully amalgamate and unwind.
Exposure: from southwest to northwest for the part facing Barbaresco; from southeast to north for the remaining parts.
Labels: Barbaresco San Cristoforo – Domenico Filippino; Barbaresco Riserva San Cristoforo – La Contena; Barbaresco San Cristoforo Campo Quadro (Riserva as well) – Punset; Barbaresco San Cristoforo – Pietro Rinaldi; Barbaresco and Barbaresco San Cristoforo (Riserva as well) – Sassi San Cristoforo