Arnaldo Rivera presents its historic crus
With this project the members of the Terre del Barolo cooperative pay homage to their founder. Eight wines (plus one), from the 2018 vintage presented at Vinitaly, illustrate the multifaceted aspects of the territory. The nobility of Monvigliero and Vignarionda.
In the Langhe area, which boasts some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world, a UNESCO world heritage site and something like millions of euros changing hands in recent transactions, there is a winery that brings together the work of 300 vinegrowers. Under a five-year contract, about 30 of these families (1/10 of the total) have undertaken to set aside a quantity of grapes from their best vineyards as part of the historic crus. Today, Barolos bottled individually are quintessential to nature and tradition in the Langhe. The Arnaldo Rivera brand was created in 2017 as a consequence of Terre del Barolo, the most important cooperative winery in the Langhe.
In the hilly area occupying about 2000 hectares on a strip of land measuring 20 km by 20, begins “a journey through the territory where Nebbiolo enhances the differences and features of a relatively small appellation, but with an enormous variety of subsoils, climates and elevations,” explains Stefano Pesci, director of the winery, while presenting a tasting held at the most recent Vinitaly fair.
The value of difference
To understand the range of this project, it is necessary to step back in time. To when the Alba grape market used to be in Piazza Savona (now Piazza Michele Ferrero), also called the “market of the dead” owing to some unscrupulous trading. Bruno Giacosa says, for example, that his father Mario never took him there. But on 8th December 1958, Arnaldo Rivera founded Terre di Barolo, a cooperative which brings together 300 families today, 80% of which own less than 2 hectares of vineyards and deliver their entire production to the cooperative.
“Moral integrity and the redistribution of wealth in the territory” are guiding principles that have never been betrayed by the initial project. The Arnaldo Rivera brand wants to be the sublimation of the territory within this organization. Human work is standardized: fermentation, maceration, wood, “trying to make it become just a background noise,” explains Pesci. The idea is to make the differences between one geographical mention and another even clearer. Therefore all wines macerate for 3-4 weeks, only in large barrels (minimum 700 litres) to support the different harvest volumes, with a minimum of 36 months of wood ageing.
The 2018 vintage illustrates the Langhe
Pesci underlines, for example, how Serralunga has very specific crus, especially in terms of size, while in Monforte the MGAs (Additional Geographical Mentions) are much bigger and therefore need to be attributed. There has also been time to announce the arrival of Cannubi, a historic vineyard since 2019 for Arnaldo Rivera, with 76-year-old plants. But there is still time. After the first vintage, the 2018 is now demonstrating the detailed geological and winemaking cross-section of the Langhe. It was one of the most sweltering vintages, but also the wettest in recent years. Storms with a hot climate. It came straight after the hot, dry 2017 vintage. This is done through 11 comuni, the only blended wine in the Arnaldo Rivera range. “Undicicomuni,” adds Stefano Pesci, “illustrates what we Barolo farmers are.” Then there’s space for the historic crus.
undicicomuni, Barolo DOCG 2018
This Barolo is picked from 10 to 21 different plots and has been produced over time, but always in roughly the same quantities. It is the only wine to age in wood for a more limited period, only 24 months, compared to the historic crus. It also matures in concrete. Very classic on the nose, with notes of wild strawberries and lots of fresh floral overtones. The fruit becomes riper, accompanied by violets through to cherries and sweet cinnamon spices on the palate. The tannins are even and sandy, but ripe and overall light, with very refreshing acidity.
Barolo Castello DOCG 2018
It is the only Castello on the market. The vineyards are the steep ones you can see rising to 250 metres above sea level, towards the historic Grinzane castle, where Camillo Benso di Cavour once lived and where the first experiments on Barolo were carried out. The soil is darker and clayey. The wine, 3500 bottles produced, is “not particularly approachable but meaty, with dark fruit, marked balsamic notes, spices such as sandalwood and incense,” underlined Alessandro Torcoli, director of Civiltà del bere, who led the tasting. Velvety, but a little edgy and clenched in the mouth, with refreshing acidity, it is a masculine Barolo, with personality, but not for everyone.
Barolo Monvigliero DOCG 2018
In the northernmost part of the appellation, from old vineyards up to 295 metres, this cru comes from Bricco Monvigliero, a vineyard under a historic maritime pine planted between 1948 and 1972, therefore at the height of the Additional Geographical Mention (MGA) of the same name. It is particularly graceful on the nose, reminiscent of Parma violets, with fruit divided between wild strawberries and red orange, chalk, liquorice and roots. “Aristocratic, haughty and linear,” Torcoli defined it. Its concentration is surprising for a vintage like 2018, as are its graceful, grainy, but elegant tannins and bright freshness.
Barolo Ravera DOCG 2018
Here we reach 430 metres of elevation, and in any case never below 350. We are in the southernmost part, but at a higher elevation, therefore we can imagine a fresher Barolo. However, the subsoil is the same as Monvigliero, with laminated marl. Macerated flowers, red cherries and cinnamon merge with powder puff and a more assertive citrus note. “Byzantine,” according to Torcoli. The mouth is full, very taut and the acidity underlines the tannins, with an austere but good finish.
Barolo Bussia DOCG 2018
In the great Bussia vineyard, the historic Monforte cru, these grapes are picked at 380 to 430 metres above sea level. It’s probably the most garnet-coloured wine in the glass. The aromas are not very approachable, deeper and more mineral than fruity. Roses, yeast, rhubarb roots, cinnamon and cocoa powder on a red cherry background. The tannins are solid and powerful with stable and taut acidity. You need to wait for wines like this, even in more approachable vintages than this one. But that’s the beauty of Bussia.
Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata DOCG 2018
This vineyard planted between 1988 and 1991 at 384 metres, at the top of the Annunziata, lies on the marl soils of Sant’Agata. It is a spicy Barolo, with the marked undergrowth of La Morra, herbs and pomegranate. Very fresh in the mouth, with lovely meaty cherries and a chocolatey finish. The tannins are velvety and ripe, with well-integrated acidity.
Barolo Vignarionda DOCG 2018
30% limestone and sandstone, roots as thin as hair, because Vigna Rionda is a very warm hollow, but has a balanced plant growth cycle which enables extraordinary polyphenolic ripening. The Arnaldo Rivera vineyards are situated on the summit, at the centre of the cru. Dried cherries, Parma violets, followed by lots of roots and hazelnut, with a cinnamon caramel flavour. Taut and firm, with austere tannins, but an elegant finish. It is the best historic cru, together with Monvigliero.
Barolo Villero DOCG 2018
From old vines from the 1950s and 1970s at 300 metres, this historic cru of Castiglione Falleto is very floral, with roses and rose water in the foreground, then ripe, focused cherries, balsamic overtones and wild fennel. It proves simpler in the mouth, but has very smooth, light, almost silky tannins, with refreshing acidity.
Barolo Rocche di Castiglione DOCG 2018
It is the result of a combination of soils and territories: sandstone in Diano d’Alba from ancient submarine landslides that have returned to the surface and millions of years of erosion. The wine has an austere nose with a subtler finish, between herbs and blood oranges. Velvety but austere with a stylish but refreshing acidity.
Opening photo: the wines of the Arnaldo Rivera collection illustrate the multi-faceted aspects of a territory capable of expressing the concept of cru at the highest levels
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