The Northern Italian wine region of Piedmont, and Barbaresco in particular, feels like Burgundy 15 years ago. The reds share much stylistic overlap, as well as a host of smaller terroir and quality focused growers. The wines are beguiling, nuanced, age-worthy wines which, for now at least, remain reasonably priced and relatively accessible.
Following a visit earlier this year, we were therefore delighted to add the wines of Giuseppe Cortese to our ranks. Our initial opening offer featuring the 2019 Barbaresco is below so I would urge to you consider this immensely exiting estate, whose reputation and standing is sure to grow as people discover these wines and region as a whole.
We ask that for those wanting more than 1 case of Rabajà they balance their order with either a case of the Langhe Chardonnay or the straight Barbaresco.
The Region – Barbaresco and Barolo
In Barbaresco and Barolo, like Burgundy, the wines labelled simple as Barbaresco or Barolo can be a blend of several vineyards from the region. Single vineyards, on the other hand, are often seen as the pinnacle of quality. These appear on the label if that vineyard was the main source of production for a particular wine (Premier Cru in Burgundy speak). At the top of the quality pyramid, you have single vineyard Riservas (Grand Cru if you will) which will be produced only in specific, exceptional vintages.
These regions also compare with their French counterpart in being dominated by small growers turned winemakers, often third and fourth generation farmers who inherited vines and, in some cases, an actual winery if fortunate. Desolate hillsides were revived again in the 1950s by a handful of inspired and driven individuals.
The land prices for Burgundy and Barolo have gone through the roof in recent years, and although Barbaresco is likely to follow, the wines from producers like Cortese remain a steal. While globally recognised estates like Gaja and Bruno Giacosa carry notoriously hefty price tags, there are a host of producers like Produttori, La Ca Nova, Cecilia Monte and Giuseppe Cortese who strike the balance between quality and value.
These reds are aromatic, perfumed and firmly structured with a seductive elegance. They can also be drunk young, without the need for 10+ years ageing in the cellar, retaining a delicate, less austere and approachable character.