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The 2013 vintage is shaping up to be a watershed moment for Italian wine lovers. These powerful wines are heart-rendingly pure and soulful - and long-gone are the days when these wines needed time. Now they hit the ground running and deliver intoxicating heady pleasure for decades! With Castello di Neive, it’s their time-tested vineyard sites that provide the richest, most aromatic and downright narcotic wines found in Barbaresco – wines so good that even Barolo grouches have to admit when they’re bested. The living, breathing deity of Barbaresco, Bruno Giacosa, uses these same grapes in his $1000 collectibles – fortunately, Castello di Neive doesn’t employ the same mark-up…!
About the wine
With the exception of Grand Cru Burgundy, no wine on earthy captivates the senses quite like a good Barbaresco or Barolo. Heady scents of strawberry, rose, ginger and cinnamon swirl in the glass. Then one gets to the mouthfilling structure of a great vineyard like Santo Stefano - and it gets hard to imagine a more perfect wine. This Italian masterwork is so exotic and luxurious - yet also fully in-charge! Bold fruit and spice crash onto the palate in a way that would make Dry Creek Zinfandel hide its face in shame. Then powerful tannin and rocky minerality take over and make Diamond Mountain Cabernets taste lightweight! Blasphemy - but with some truth to it! The best Barbarescos, and in particular, Santo Stefano – they do it all! Uncork this beautiful and authoritative red with roast chicken, duck breast or lamb chops – and save some space for a cheese course after!
Winemaker: Gianfranco Cordero & Claudio Roggero
- 96 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 95+ pts: Vintage Rating (Vinous)
Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo
Vineyard: Santo Stefano & Gallina
Cooperage: 12-24 months in older French oak
About the winery
The Castello di Neive is one of the true icons of Northern Italy, having presided over many important historical eras. First built in 12th century, it was destroyed in a military attack in 1270. The Kings of Savoy rebuilt the Castello in 1753, choosing to make a small addition – a beautiful baroque chapel exclusively for the use of the family! Nowadays, the castle’s interiors are imbued with history and packed to every corner with period furniture, artwork from every era as well as all manner of interesting cultural curiosities. The Castello and its surrounding 150-acre estate were bought by the Stupino family in 1964, acquiring not only the great history but also the superb Santo Stefano hillside, which had been wild with blackberry bushes before the Stupinos planted grapes. Those early vintages marked the first time the Castello had ever been used for wine production – ironic given how much of a wine icon it has become! The Stupino family (now run by Italo) has made impressive gains on the more famous producers in the area, now turning out wines that can compete with the titans of Neive: Giacosa, Sottimano, Bruno Rocca and La Spinetta.
About the vineyard
The backbone of Castello di Neive’s Barbaresco is the prized Santo Stefano vineyard – arguably the one true Grand Cru site for Nebbiolo in this region. As the prime part of the vineyard known as Albesani, it occupies only one south-facing slope and the vines here generally produce more concentrated and darker fruit thanks to an unusual amount of clay in the soil. That richness makes a big difference when you’re talking about highly structured Nebbiolo grapes. The inner core is lovingly wrapped in a blanket of ripe fruit, and nowhere is that more successful than in the Santo Stefano section of the Albesani vineyard, which is a monopole. Santo Stefano almost certainly rings a bell – it has been the source for many a red-label Riserva from the glorious Bruno Giacosa. In Giacosa’s hands, Santo Stefano became the Barbaresco vineyard that not only surpassed Barolo – it nearly reached perfection, hitting 99 points twice and 98 points another 10 times!
About the winemaker, Gianfranco Cordero
Gianfranco Cordero is a highly influential palate in Piedmont where he’s an instructor at Alba’s renowned winemaking school as well as a teacher at the University of Turin. To top it off, he also teaches aspiring somms for the Italian Sommelier Association. With nearly 40 years of experience under this belt, his expertise in coaxing nebbiolo’s full personality to the fore has made him a legend. He helps the winemaking teams at numerous local wineries, as well as those at the other end of the country, in Sicily’s emergent wine scene. He provides the veteran experience to complement the feet-on-the-ground efforts of Claudio Roggero, the man responsible for the spotless production of nearly a dozen different highly-rated wines each vintage.
96 points, Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Classic, refined and alluring, this gorgeous Barbaresco over-delivers with captivating red fruit aromas of dried cherry, red currant, and raspberry, lovely floral notes of rose petal and lavender, and warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg. This precocious Nebbiolo opens up very quickly to reveal a remarkable complexity including notes of tobacco, balsamic, fresh herbs, and a hint of balsamic. Lithe and balanced, with silky tannins and a long lingering finish, this is a perfect Piedmontese wine to pair with a creamy pasta topped with shaved truffles, short rib ravioli, or tender slice of prime rib."