A Note from Sergio
Barolo and Barbaresco are perhaps two of the best-known Italian
wines, recognized around the world by collectors, enthusiasts, and even
people with some minor knowledge of culture. Piemonte has turned out
some rock star producers over the years, major players who dominate the
industry and are considered personalities in their own right. Indeed,
the region--that lush patchwork of green and gold hills, blanketed with
vines, without an inch to spare--has become more than just the farm
country it was fifty years ago. Now, it's a destination, and even in the
dead of winter you'll find a half-dozen tour buses parked on the
skinny cobblestone streets.
This kind of popularity has revived a region once bogged down by
economic hardship, and it's allowed many struggling contadini to not
only survive, but to thrive. It has also created a new culture and a
new market, hungry for expansion, success, cash--just the kind of
market that makes modern, globalized wines in sparkling new factories.
To me, the beauty of Barolo and Barbaresco lies in their strong
sense of history. I tend to prefer the old-timers, and not just because
I'm a little sentimental. In Barolo and Barbaresco, more than any
other region, the older winemakers are true links operating in a chain
of generations, connecting all the way back to the birth of the wine.
Working through recession after recession, before the influx of Swiss
and German wine lovers, before scores and journals and newsletters and
columns, these winemakers are the sons and daughters of the people
dedicated to their grapes and their cellars. They were willing to go
broke just to keep making a wine they considered the best in the world,
the wine their fathers made. These people are at least partially
responsible for the fact that these wines have endured.
Today, I’m proud to present a Barolo and a Barbaresco that
illustrate the history and the dedication of these Piemonte winemakers.
You might not have heard of Renzo Seghesio--the estate has run a
pretty low profile--but the estate dates back a century. For a long
time, Seghesio was predominantly a negociant house; in fact, the estate
sold grapes to Domenico Clerico from its Pajana vineyard in Ginestra.
But in the mid-1960s, Seghesio started bottling its own authentic,
rustic Barolo. I’ve selected Renzo Seghesio 2004 Barolo Pajana Riserva,
a ten-year-old Riserva from that historic vineyard and a wine that’s
priced at under $75.
Barbaresco is one of the most sought-after, most collectable, most
historic wines in the world from one of the great winemakers in the
world, Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive 2011. This is, as
many collectors already know, the final bottling of this wine as we
know it. This fact alone marks this debut as special, but the vintage
also reunites Bruno Giacosa with Dante Scaglione, his consulting
winemaker, who came back in 2011 after four years away. This wine is, in
short, a historic.
I'm finishing this eLetter on a light, breezy, rosy note--a
beautifully made Cerasuolo from Abruzzese that's less than $10 a
bottle, and something you can only find at IWM. Some nights, you just
have to set history aside and drink in the easy-going joy.