Alfio Cavallotto is one of the bright new stars to emerge in Italy’s Piedmont. However, Cavallotto is neither new to the scene, nor are his wines indicative of the light, modern style of Barolo. Cavallotto is a real traditionalist, and his wines make few concessions to the contemporary predilection for technology over technique. Rather, it is this house’s penchant for making authentic, muscular, cask aged Barolos that reflect the great terroir of Castiglione Falletto that have caused Alfio Cavallotto’s star to rise. In short, the Cavallotto’s Bricco Boschis Barolo is one of the finest in the zone.
The Cavallotto estate uses only indigenous yeasts and long macerations to extract the fullest representation from each vineyard and wine it produces, and the results are sublime – age worthy Piedmontese treasures that are both structured and ultimately decadent. Cavallotto’s most compelling offerings emanate from his premier 10 acre vineyard known as Bricco Boschis. Both Barbera and Barolo emerge from this little gem. Production from this single vineyard cru is predictably small, rarely more than 2,100 cases.
Barolo: The King of Wines, and the Wine of Kings
Barolo has affectionately and appropriately been referred to as the “king of wines, and the wine of kings.” In a fine vintage such as 2003 and in the hands of a great winemaker, Barolo is unquestionably Italy’s most profound red wine, richly deserving of the many accolades that have been bestowed upon it.
Barolo is born on the Langhe Hills of Italy’s Piedmont, on steep craggy Alpine foothills that tumble out of nearby France and Switzerland. Barolo is the most masculine of Piedmont’s three great Nebbiolo based wines and the focal point in the region’s viticultural tiara. Gattinara and Barbaresco are the other two crown jewels. Although Gattinara, typically the lightest and most feminine of Piedmont’s great reds, and Barbaresco, sometimes referred to as a baby Barolo for its propensity for being lighter and easier to drink in its youth than its more stalwart neighbor, share the same noble Nebbiolo vine as Barolo, it is Barolo that possesses the pedigree to rule the viticultural roost. Barolo’s lineage dates back to the Middle Ages and by the mid 18th century Barolo had begun to evolve into its present form in the vicinity of Alba, a distinct Old World city that serves as the white truffle capital of Italy as well as Piedmont’s premier wine town.
Today, the limited production of Barolo generates from the huddled hills of two valleys, Serralunga and Barolo, and their five principal communities, all of which lie to the southwest of the city of Alba and are reputed to impart distinctive characteristics and traits to their respective progeny. The townships of Serralunga, Castiglione Falletto, and Monforte are situated in the Serralunga Valley and are reputed to produce the region’s most masculine, longest-lived Barolos. Meanwhile, Barolo and La Morra, from which the more “delicate” wines of the zone are said to flow, are part of the Barolo Valley. However, there are many exceptions and innumerable variations in Barolo on the same theme, and this does not even take into account the decades old debate in Barolo over the relative merits of the modern versus traditional styles of Barolo, which have as much to do with individual winemaking techniques as they do the amount and kind of barrel aging the wines receive. Happily, in the end, there is great Barolo fashioned in all five of the major townships, in both modern and traditional styles.