Cantina del Pino, Langhe Nebbiolo
Cantina del Pino, Langhe Nebbiolo

Cantina del Pino, Langhe Nebbiolo

Piedmont, Italy 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$35.00

Cantina del Pino, Langhe Nebbiolo

In Italy’s Barbaresco region, the surname “Vacca” rings out. Multi-generational family dynasties are common in small, insular wine regions like this, and among the Vaccas to make outsized names for themselves in Barbaresco are Aldo Vacca, the longtime manager of the famed Produttori del Barbaresco cooperative, and his cousin, Renato Vacca, whose tiny Cantina del Pino has also garnered worldwide acclaim. Renato’s untimely death in 2020, at just 52, rocked the Italian wine world, but his family, led by his wife, Franca (a winemaker in her own right), has carried on. Today’s 2021 from Cantina del Pino is the latest example of a modestly priced Langhe Nebbiolo pushing aside a host of other world-class wines during one of our tastings—it’s like the clouds parted and a beam of light shone only on this bottle. So, no, it doesn’t matter that we’ve offered other Langhe Nebbiolo wines recently: this one demands your attention. It’s without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, $35 wine investments you’ll ever make.

As we’ve noted previously, the Vacca roots in Barbaresco run deep: For many years, Renato Vacca’s branch of the family sold their grapes to Aldo’s Produttori del Barbaresco, whose bottlings from the “Ovello” cru have proved to be some of the longest-lived Barbarescos of all time. Renato and family only began bottling wines under their own label in 1997, but, blessed with some of the oldest vineyard holdings in the region, Cantina del Pino came right out of the gate with wines of uncommon assurance. When Renato passed from pancreatic cancer in 2020, the Barbaresco community undoubtedly lost a giant, but Cantina del Pino has always been a broader family affair, with various aunts, uncles, and parents helping out—and not just at harvest time. Franca, for her part, has been a key part of the winemaking since 2013, so for all the upset the family endured, the quality of the wines has not missed a beat.

The maritime pine tree depicted on the Cantina del Pino labels is said to have been planted by local legend Domizio Cavazza, who served as the director of the Royal Enological School in Alba from 1888-1913. Cavazza made his home on the “Ovello” hill, and was responsible for the creation of the wine cooperative that became Produttori del Barbaresco. Renato Vacca’s great-grandfather purchased Cantina del Pino from Cavazza’s family, and the Vaccas have been firmly rooted in Ovello ever since, with some of their vines in the cru exceeding 70 years of age. This Langhe Nebbiolo includes younger-vine fruit from both the Ovello and Albesani vineyards, and, like most Langhe Nebbiolos, is designed to be drunk much younger than the estate’s Barbaresco bottlings. Aging is carried out in stainless steel tanks only.

In the glass, this ’21 is a medium crimson moving to pink and orange at the rim, offering up the full array of Nebbiolo aromas: red currant, crushed raspberry, pomegranate, blood orange peel, wild herbs, roses, leather, tobacco, and underbrush. It has a silky but taut structure, with fine-grained tannins and a beautiful balance of polish and rusticity. Decant it 15-30 minutes before service at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complex, versatile, and genuinely soulful wine at this price point. The best part about Nebbiolo, of course, is that it only gets better alongside an earthy, warming risotto. With winter on its way, we all need some of this at the ready. Enjoy!  

Cantina del Pino, Langhe Nebbiolo

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