A tasting with Alfio Cavallotto


We are fiercely proud of our direct relationships in Piedmont, a region on which we have been focusing our efforts for some years now.  A favourite estate is Cavallotto, and we were delighted to welcome Alfio Cavallotto to the FINE+RARE offices last week for a comprehensive and intriguing tasting of his wines: no less than thirteen of them.  A treat.

Alfio’s visit coincides with the 2011 Barolo releases: this is a vintage that, whilst not surrounded by the hype of the 2010 vintage, is well worth looking at.  We held a tasting of more than 80 different 2011 Barolos in March, which more than confirmed our confidence in the vintage (and Cavallotto featured as a favourite, both with us and with Jancis Robinson).

If Barolo is divided between the traditionalists and the modernists, then Cavallotto is firmly in the former camp: the estate is deeply traditional, and one of the first to bottle their own wines in the late 1940s.  Very little has changed since: as with all of the very best wine estates, the bulk of the work is done in the vineyard and intervention in the winery is minimal.  These are wines that are “brought up” as opposed to made.  The results are exceptional: these are some of the best Barolos available and, moreover, they age impeccably well.

We started with a very serious 2012 Langhe Nebbiolo.  This comes from the younger vines, mostly situated within the crus, and is a serious value prospect for Nebbiolo lovers.

We then continued to the big boys:

2011 Barolo Bricco Boschis

“Fragrant nose.  Forward.  Red cherries and orange peel and very aromatic.  This is soft and supple on the palate with a dense tannic structure behind the fruit.  A linear style that is approachable nonetheless.”

2010 Barolo Bricco Boschis

“There is a great deal here on the nose even though there is a great deal more to come from this.  Plenty of fruit.  This has softened and opened since tasted in Barolo in March.  Minerality, nuts, and balsamic spice.  Quite full bodied on the palate, with densely packed tannins. This needs time and will turn out to be very good indeed.”

2006 Barolo Bricco Boschis

“Lovely nose.   Sweet and aromatic: almost gentle. Restrained.  There is a touch of spice woven with candied fruit.  This is super-elegant and sophisticated. Fine and very subtle.  Lovely though still needs time to open up and show its best.  Lovely.”

2008 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“Great nose.  Precise and very well-defined.  Lifted, smoky and mineral.  The palate is fresh and lifted, medium-bodied, and very fine with firm tannins.  Super-fresh and a long finish.  Very good.”

2007 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“Ripe.  This has warm fruit and rich aromatics – dried fruit notes.  This is very fruity on both the nose and palate.  This is juicy and soft.  Forward – delicious now.”

2006 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“This is more closed on the nose than the 2006 Bricco Boschis but there is intensity here.  Fresh cherry fruit and a touch of candied fruit on top.  Refreshing acidity on the palate with sweetness to the fruit.  Impressive depth and length.  Needs more time.  Very good.”

2005 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“This is quite evolved on the nose.  Toffee, wet leaves, liquorice.  Broad and open.  This has less depth than the 2006 and is much more loosely structured but is showing very well now.”

2004 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“Very classic nose.  Tar, perfume.  This opens up in the glass and develops more savoury notes.  Mid weight, fresh, very fine palate – again very classic.  So aromatic and complex.  Great length. This is just beginning to show well but will continue to develop.”

2001 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe

“This is dark and smoky on the nose.  Very firm on the palate.  Fresh acidity.  This has meaty and spicy notes and is set to develop aromatically.  A dense and compact mid palate, and very good length.”

2001 Barolo Vignolo Riserva

“Heather and sweet spice on the nose; softer and more aromatic than the Bricco Boschis.  Quite full bodied, with silky-smooth tannins.  A rich yet elegant style.  More open than the Bricco Boschis at this stage but not a lesser wine by any means.”

2003 Barolo Vignolo

“Rich and raisiny and less expansive on the nose than the 2001. Very dark fruited.  Well-structured on the palate, with grippy tannins. This is not hot, and hangs together well.  Good.”

1999 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe

“There is much more evolution on the nose here.  Dark fruit, liquorice, cinnamon, lots of savoury character.  Masses of complexity and expansive on the palate.  Very smooth tannins, almost soft. Very round. The 2001s are showing a little better today but this is very, very good.”

This was a stunning tasting and we thank Alfio for his time, his expertise and his generosity.

The full list of available wines from this outstanding estate can be seen here.

Joss Fowler
Director of Fine Wine