Hello and Happy Friday!
I hereby declare November – Barolo Month!
I’ve always wondered how those things are decided and then I realized they are simply made up – so why not do it myself!
I decided that November was Barolo month because with the change in weather, many of my customers are starting to drink more hearty red wines, pairing them with wintry foods like braised short ribs. So what better to drink then Barolo?
On top of that, this month marks a very important visit to Chicago from one of Piedmont’s most celebrated wineries Renato Ratti. Pietro Ratti will be co-hosting a sold-out underground dinner with me on November 16th. I am running a wait list, so contact me for details if you are interested.
Finally, just a couple days ago I received some of the new and exciting vintage releases from Ratti including their famed and rare single cru called Rocche.
There is no doubt that the pricing on Barolo makes it a little more of a special wine to most – but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink a Ratti wine because he makes incredible Dolcetto, Barbera, and a terrific value Nebbiolo from the Ochetti vineyard. I’ve included those today as these are great every day drinkers!
Happy Barolo Month!
Have a great weekend,
THE WINES OF RENATO RATTI
Renato Ratti is one of the most important and historic wineries in all of Piedmont. Located in the village of La Morra, the winery was established by Renato Ratti in 1965. Ratti is probably most noted for leading the way in understanding the importance of creating single vineyard wines in the region. His single Cru of Marcenasco was first labeled in 1965. He wrote several books and helped map out the different vineyards, establishing the best sites. He was also head of the Barolo Consortium, and helped establish more strict rules for production. Piedmont and the name of Barolo owes a lot to Renato Ratti.
Today the winery is headed by his son Pietro, one of the nicest people you will every meet. He has continued to expand the winery, and built a brand new winery in 2002. The Ratti wines have never been better than they are today. I rarely taste a complete line-up of wines from any winery in the world that are as good top to bottom as these.
There is something for everyone in today’s offer – do not miss these wines!
2009 RENATO RATTI DOLCETTO D’ALBA “COLOMBÈ ”
Northeast of La Morra and due east of Alba is Mango, where Ratti sources his Dolcetto grapes from the Colombè vineyard. The ridge contains high proportions of limestone in the soil.
Ratti’s parcel contains vines with a healthy average age of 30-years. The fruit is harvested by hand and undergoes a warm fermentation with a relatively short maceration time of 5 days. This example of Dolcetto only sees stainless steel tanks.
It is not the rustic, lightly tannic style of the old-style Dolcetto, rather a softer, lusher style with that classic cherry and plum notes that you come to expect.
This is what I would keep on hand for pizza, pasta, and antipasti. It is a tremendous value!
$13.99 BTL. / $167.88 CASE
2009 RENATO RATTI BARBERA D’ALBA “TORRIGLIONE”
From estate vineyards in La Morra where the Ratti winery is located, Torriglione is a southeast facing vineyard on Tortonian soil. The average vine age is 20 years, and the vineyard is planted at a high density.
Again a warm fermentation is employed, with 7 day maceration and malolactic in stainless steel tank. The wine is aged in old French oak barriques for six months afterwards.
This is really one of the best value Barbera’s that you can buy – part of the reason why I almost always have this on hand at the store. It really is a very versatile food wine as its dark berry and plum notes, with subtle spice and great balancing acidity work with game, meat, and even grilled salmon.
$16.99 BTL. / $203.88 CASE
2008 RENATO RATTI NEBBIOLO D’ALBA “OCHETTI”
The Ochetti vineyard is situated in Monteu Roero. A lot of times with Nebbiolo d’Alba you are getting a producers young vine fruit – not in this case. These are 30 year-old vines on average, facing southwest in Astiano and sandy soil.
Warm fermentation in stainless steel tanks, on its skins for 5 days, followed by aging for a year in oak barrels. This is not a super structured style of Nebbiolo, which makes it much more accessible in its youth.
Very aromatic, with red fruits – hints at strawberry and balsamic, with spice and pepper notes. For a full-bodied red wine this is sure easy to drink. A match for grilled or roasted meats like rabbit, steak, or duck.
This wine proves you can drink Nebbiolo on a regular basis without breaking the bank!
$19.99 BTL. / $239.88 CASE
2006 RENATO RATTI BAROLO “MARCENASCO”
It all started with Marcenasco, the first Cru to be declared by Renato Ratti with its first vintage in 1965. The area is located near the Annuziata Abbey in La Morra. It has been documented that Nebbiolo vines have been planted here since the 12th century.
It should be noted that Marcenasco is not a single Cru anymore, it comes from multiple vineyards that face south, southeast and southwest, and have an average of 25 year-old vines planted on Tortonian soil which is a bluish marl.
Fermentation is similar to all the other wines at Ratt, with a maceration length of 7 days. Aging for Marcenasco is done in 25 hectoliter Slovenian oak casks and older barrels.
The 2006 “Marcenasco” may just be the best version of this wine I have ever tasted. It is really impressive! Big notes of cherry, menthol, tobacco, and black licorice on the nose. This is pretty compact on the palate now, but opens up with decanting to reveal more red fruits, hint and truffle and lots of spice. Medium tannins coat the palate, and the length is long and warm.
This is a Barolo you can drink now, as I already have cracked a couple bottles. It will also age for 20 years.
This is one of the two or three best values in Barolo year in and year out. Do not miss the ’06, it is spectacular.
$48.99 BTL. / $587.88 CASE
2006 RENATO RATTI BAROLO “ROCCHE”
A Grand Cru vineyard through and through, recognized by Ratti on his famed Carta del Barolo. The vineyards full name is known as Rocche dell’ Annunziata and it is THE prime vineyard in La Morra. In total it is about 30 hectares, and it is owned by several famous names alongside of Ratti like Scavino, and Voerzio.
Ratti produced his first vintage from the Rocche vineyard in 1971. The vineyard itself faces southwest, and is on that Tortonian soil, although with a little white sand intertwined. The Ratti vines are a whopping 50 years-old in vine age, and the yields from these vines are the same as a Grand Cru Burgundy, 35 hl/ha.
The malolactic fermentation for this wine is done in large wood barrels. The maceration time is 7 days, at warm temperature. The wine is aged for one year in French barriques and the second year in 25 hectoliter Slovenian oak barrels.
Only 8,000 bottles were produced in 2006, making this very rare and very sought after.
Absolutely ethereal aromas of flowers, red fruits, tar and underbrush. Earthy, elegant yet at the same time being powerful, and extremely long. One of Barolo’s greatest reds.
This is a wine for the ages, and one should age this for several years, ultimately drinking it anytime over the course of the next 25 years. I have to mention that this to me is a tremendous value. Most other Grand Cru wines from Barolo are well over $100 or even $200 for that matter. This is a steal at the price.
$78.99 BTL. / $473.94 SIX-PACK CASE