2016 Cavallotto Langhe Nebbiolo
The term Langhe Nebbiolo is a catch-all that speaks to really two unique styles of wine, both, of course, fashioned from the Nebbiolo grape from the Langhe region of Piemonte. One is a super-appealing, made-to-be-consumed-young, grapy style that’s long on fruit, quickly fermented and bottled either entirely from stainless steel or the briefest time in large neutral casks. We sell lots of this kind- Burlotto’s excellent example and Elio Grasso’s Gavarini are two of note. They are fun to drink and, often, excellent values.
The second type (and, of course, there are many producers whose wines steer a course between these two styles) is what many call the ‘Baby Barolo’ style….more serious wines that are macerated longer and see some significant time in wood before bottling. They too are meant to be consumed younger, but offer up more complexity in their youth and can often last years in the cellar. Cordero di Montezemolo, E. Pira-Chiara Boschis and the Odderos are three producers who siphon some of their best grapes into their Langhe Nebbs and have established major constituencies here for their wines. Over the years, though, one ultra-serious producer’s Langhe Nebbiolo has best carried the banner for the Baby Barolo style of wine- Cavallotto. And while theirs is a little more expensive than some others, it also really delivers the goods: Barolo-like character and depth of flavor in a format that drinks better younger than its more famous big brothers. Cavallotto farms some magnificent vineyards in the Castiglione Falletto zone of Barolo and their Langhe Nebb comes from younger vines in Bricco Boschis, Vignolo, Codana and Pernanno. Winemaker Alfio Cavallotto macerates the Nebbiolo for close to 30 days in tank before aging the wine for upwards of a year and a half in a variety of old wood formats. That’s a pretty serious winemaking regimen for a wine intended to be consumed within the first seven or eight years of its life! 2016 was, of course, a very special vintage for this sort of wine and Cavallotto does not disappoint! Right out of the chute, it boasts color, aromatics, texture and depth. Based on sweet cherry fruit, it’s also packed with dried spices, sandalwood, kaolin clay and brambly, woodsy notes that give way to a nice, medium to full body and some truly Baby Barolo-like tannins, the product of a vintage that really supercharged the wine. Savory and focused, it will do nothing but get better over the next five to seven years. Absolutely delicious- it’s the pick of the 2016 vintage in this genre. Only problem is our allocation- it’s once again small!