I’ve not tasted this wine since its release. At that time, the wine was, not unexpectedly, a bit closed. In the interim, I’ve had many 2012 Barolo wines from a good cross-section of producers. Results have been, for me, generally quite good, with very few falling into an exceptional category; I’ve only come across a handful that approach mediocrity, the same as with most vintages. This wine easily falls into the exceptional category; I was spellbound right through the very last drop.
In 2008 I spent some time at Cascina Chicco, it was just after the family had purchased this very important Cru in Monforte d’Alba. And even if it was some months after the acquisition, the family’s pride regarding this important achievement was both obvious and well deserved.
I’ve visited the cellars regularly since that time, and I’ve always made a point to say hello when passing through VinItaly, too. Nearly fifteen years ago, I sold these wines for the importer; they were, and are, among my favorites in the portfolio, not just for the tremendous value they offer, but for the brilliant balance and character I’ve always experienced.
In 2008, I was there as construction had just begun on a BIG addition to the cellar; the addition of sparkling (Nebbiolo) wine, made in the Methode Champenoise, had been declared to be a focus for the family, and by extension, area, going forward. The cellars, now complete (video, here) have a substantial area dedicated to the sparkling wine project. In 2011, I again visited, with nearly all of the work complete, save some (very classy) finishing touches – the family’s attention to detail and eye for good taste (no pun intended) are everywhere. For reasons I’ll elaborate upon here, and for many others, this is a can’t miss visit if you’re passing through the area; a true hidden gem.
From the company’s website (which upon reading, makes total sense as to the very, very high quality I experienced with this wine (I’ve bolded some of the parts that, to me, really stand out):
“In this vineyard, because the yield per vine must not exceed 2 kg, two thinnings are done – one at the beginning and one at the end of August.
During harvest, which is done manually by specialized vineyard workers, particular attention is given to the grape sorting. Each plant is harvested twice with a period of 6-10 days in between.
Fermentation lasts 15 days and happens in small, stainless steel tanks with repeated pumping-over for adequate color extraction. Maceration continues after fermentation for a total of 40-45 days. After, the wine is transferred to wood barrels of 2,000, 2,500, and 5,000 liters. Here is where malolactic fermentation begins, as the wine rests for 30 months before being transferred, once again, to stainless steel tanks where it will remain for 8 months. After about 4 years from the date of harvest, the wine is ready to be put on the market.”
I tasted all that extra attention, the long maceration, the native yeasts, etc. The purity here is just stunning.
Here’s my recent tasting note:
2 January, 2018, 2012 Cascina Chicco Barolo Rocche di Castelletto “Is anyone ever truly prepared for the unexpected? On balance, probably not. Or, at least in my case, I’d opened this 2012 Barolo expecting (based on the pool of past experiences and projections, of sorts) to know what was in for. I wasn’t even close. This garnet>ruby colored Barolo wine was immediately and heavily perfumed, though the perfumes were not of oak, or candied fruit, but rather the perfumes of perfectly ripe Nebbiolo grapes raised in such a way that their maximum expression was on full display. The genius of it all though, for my palate, that underlying all the fruit’s perfumes was a wonderful, resonating sense of place. So much harmony, yet in a powerfully refined presentation. Red fruits dominate, the middle palate is very full, well-textured, deceptively deep. The finish on this young wine is already quite long and rewarding. I was searching for more before I had even poured the second glass. I know Cascina Chicco for their commitment to quality; I know Marco’s palate, his skill. But, I was not prepared for the very high level of quality this wine offered; it continued to unfold and get even better right through the final drop. A stunner, and one that should keep another 15-20 years if you’re so inclined. 14,5% abv. (fully resolved). Drink or hold. highly recommended+
It may be worth noting that I’ve regularly purchased their new releases of Langhe Nebbiolo, Arneis, both of their Barbera d’Alba, their (100% Nebbiolo) Roero Valmaggiore, and even their late harvest Arneis, Arcass.
For what it’s worth (a lot, I hope), here’s my note from ten months ago on another of their 100% Nebbiolo wines:
8 March, 2017, 2011 Cascina Chicco Roero Riserva Valmaggiore “Wow, this is a great wine. It’s dark-ish (for Nebbiolo), but it’s not over-worked or tiresome in any way. Served blind, I’d have been in the $50-$100 category without exception. The aromas are intense after just 60 minutes in wide-bottom decanter; though the fabric of the flavors/layers of fruit are more hesitant to unwind. Seriously, this is impressive, and not what I had pictured in my mind prior to opening (given the modest price tag, i.e. not meant to be a slight toward the producer/site in any way – they’re both great). Close to full-bodied now, this clearly has the material and structure to go another 10 or 15 years with no problem – and it will get better as it does. I may see if they have a magnum or jero for sale when I see them in the coming weeks. 14,0% abv.” highly recommended