Casina Val del Prete Barbera d’Alba “Serre de Gatti” 2017
Winegrower: Mario Roagna
Region: Roero, Piedmont, Italy
Available: In stock
“Casina Val del Prete is one of the leading estates of Roero. Working out of his tiny estate in Priocco, proprietor Mario Roagna fashions wines that are remarkable for their sheer pleasure and drinkability.
- Robert Parker, Jr. Parker’s Wine Buyers Guide, 7th Edition
Barbera is the archetypical Piedmontese wine. The people of Piedmont and next door in Lombardy grow up in Barbera’s company, and drinking it characterizes a Milanese as much as the Duomo. Grown mainly in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Sardinia, no one will dispute that Piedmont, especially d’Alba, is its spiritual home and from where the best wines are grown. Usually found as a joyous, everyday trattoria-style wine, in the right hands it can be transformed into something rich, complex and age-worthy; some believe it’s in the same class as Barolo or Brunello because of its incredible ability to display terroir. An authentic, great Barbera is distinguished by high acidity, intense purple hues, and recognizable aromas of red fruits, underbrush, delicate spices and long, dry finish. Such is today’s wine. From Mario Roagna’s vineyards at Val de Prete we offer his Barbera d’Alba Serre de Gatti 2017. It’s delicious and fresh with mouth-watering acidity, and it’s ideal with the hearty fare and autumn nights that lay ahead. Made from handpicked, biodynamically farmed grapes that were vinified with wild yeasts, this is a delicious and serious wine that can be enjoyed now but can also handle some serious cellaring.
Roero, though dwarfed by its more famous neighbours, is a region to know. It’s a small DOCG of rolling, hilly vineyards that extends for 25 km on the banks of the Tanaro River opposite the town of Alba, and it’s known for its refreshing white Arneis and its bold, fragrant and well priced Barberra and Nebbiolo wines. Where the finest Arneis wines come from north facing vineyards, the finest Barberras and Nebbiolos come from those facing south that are steep and sandy. Roero Barberra and Nebbiolo are about value and offer excellent prices. The region was upgraded to DOCG status (Italy’s highest in terms of quality) and efforts are underway to create official subzone classifications similar to grand cru vineyards.
Casina Val del Prete (Valley of the Priest) is the most famous and important estate in Roero, and is named after the exiled Bishop of Asti who made it his home in 1850. In 1977 Bartlolomeo Roagna and his wife Carolina bought this 13-hectare farm on which they had worked as sharecroppers for many years. Their son, Mario Roagna, has managed the estate since 1995. He’s painstakingly particular and committed to biodynamic farming. Mario only grows the indigenous grape varieties of Arneis, Barbera and Nebbiolo. The estate sits in a beautiful mainly south facing amphitheatre at 260 meters with the winery and cellars in the middle surrounded by hillside vineyards. The quality of Mario’s wines has been recognized repeatedly by Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wines publication and others. Annual production is around 4,000 cases.
Today’s Barbera d’Alba “Serre de Gatti” 2017 is from a vineyard with a south-easterly exposure. The grapes were handpicked in late September and fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks for 18 days. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and six months aging in old oak barrels. It was then bottled without fining or filtering with only minimal added sulphur and rested another six months before release. The colour is deep ruby red with violet; the bouquet is aromatic, with bright, intense fruit and cigar box spiciness. On the palate it’s delicious and complex, structured with loads of red fruit flavours. Considering that mediocre Barbera easily sells for well north of $20 today’s offer at $27 bests most in drinking pleasure. In other-words its tops in QPR.
This wine is excellent with beef carpaccio, red wine braised meats, roasted goose, mushroom risotto and other autumn fare. Or may I suggest sautéed duck breast with wild mushrooms? Sounds yummy! Serve in Bordeaux stems at 16˚ and enjoy! Cin Cin!