Our tasting impressions
Capalot may not be one of the better known Barolo vineyards, but the combination of very old vines and Burzi's attention to detail elevate this to the upper echelon. It is a regal wine that is incredibly expressive. The depth of flavor is an indicator that this is capable of long and beautiful development but the house style makes it approachable young. In its youth, it is possible that the wine might shut down an hour or so after uncorking. This is a serious bottle of Barolo.
About this wine
100% Nebbiolo from the single vineyard Capalot in La Morra, planted 80 years ago by Alberto and Caterina's grandfather. Capalot has southern exposure and stands at an elevation of 300 meters. Vines are 5,000/ha and new plantings are from cuttings from the old, mother vines. Yields are kept at 30-35 hl/ha and all vineyard work is manual.
Fermentation is in steel tanks with the grape skins at controlled temperature for up to 40 days. Alberto inserts oak slats in the tanks, which increase the contact with the juice and the skins when the cap is submerged. This helps him impart elegance and intensity into the wine. Malolactic fermentation and aging is in neutral oak, 30 hl barrels. Production is 4,000 bottles per year.
About the grape
Nebbiolo, the name believed to be derived from nebbia, Italian for fog, is a grape with one of the most protracted maturation cycles. It buds in early spring and ripens late fall (when the winter nebbia from the Alps reaches the vineyards).
Nebbiolo vines tend to grow upwardly with abandon, so management is essential to limit grape production and channel energy to them. They also are very particular about where they will thrive, which is why Nebbiolo is seldom found outside of Piedmont. Even there, it only is successful when planted on south facing slopes (much sun is needed for ripening), at elevations between 250 and 450 meters (lower there is too much frost exposure, higher the grapes won’t ripen).
Wines from Nebbiolo usually are pale-colored, high in acidity and very tannic. Common flavor descriptors are rose and tar. They tend to be highly aromatic.
About the vintage
Heavy rain in the winter and spring delayed fruit development and ultimately resulted in late October harvests - at least 2 weeks later than typical. The vintage was more than redeemed by a summer of very hot days but cool nights. This is an excellent, classic vintage with sweet, rich-fruited wines.
On your table
In its youth, this is tannic enough to cut through rich, fatty food. Braised lamb shanks with tomato paste will be a nice complement. Serve at cellar temperature.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
The estate of Alberto Burzi in La Morra is young - the first vintage was 2012 - but so are Alberto and his sister Caterina. They are the first generation in their family to grow and bottle wine (a mere 20,000 per year). Their grandfather was part of a cooperative selling grapes to winemakers.
While they may be young, their vines are most definitely not - up to 80 years old. They farm naturally and organically, without certification. Alberto uses the Guyot system for vine training, typical in cool climates. He destems and does manual pump-overs 3 or 4 times per day. Bottling is earlier than most estates. He has begun experimenting with concrete tanks as an intermediary vessel between botti and bottle. He believes it provides more temperature stability. The bottis are neutral Austrian barrels.
What they might lack in years, they make up in passion, commitment and curiosity. Their goal is to produce delicate yet true expressions of Nebbiolo and Barbera and they are definitely succeeding. VDLT, the first to introduce their wine to the US is proud to be supporting the vision and dedication of these wonderful young people.
Alberto & Caterina's hard work is enabling them to grow. They are leasing a vineyard in La Serra, from which they will soon produce new wine.