Here is an incredibly shrewd, can’t-miss wine investment for you: Cavallotto’s new-release Bricco Boschis from the celebrated 2016 vintage. Not only is the wine already hauntingly good, it will continue to evolve and improve over the next 20+ years.
I say this not just because of our recent tasting of this wine but because I’ve had the good fortune of tasting many long-aged bottles from this benchmark estate—Cavallotto being one of the few in Barolo to maintain a back-vintage “library” of their wines. Their track record is as established as it gets, and I don’t hesitate to list them among the greatest names in Barolo: Conterno, Giacosa, Rinaldi, Mascarello…Cavallotto belongs in this company. Thoughtfully and capably run by fourth-generation
Alfio Cavallotto, and blessed with one of the greatest single vineyards in Barolo in “Bricco Boschis,” this represents the ultimate in classically styled Barolo: perfumed, mineral, lithe, and pure. To be this far under three figures for a wine of this magnitude is an opportunity to be seized, so take up to six bottles today before our small allotment disappears.
The heart and soul of the Cavallotto operation is the “Bricco Boschis” vineyard, which fans out beneath the winery in a southwest-facing amphitheater. The estate is right in the heart of Castiglione Falletto, which itself is right in the heart of the Barolo DOCG—right at a midpoint, of sorts, among the key villages of the zone, where the more clay-rich marls of Barolo and La Morra give way to more sandstone-influenced soils of Serralunga and Monforte. In the end, “Bricco Boschis” has more in common with the cru vineyards of Serralunga and Monforte in terms of aspect (southwest) and soil content—and it shows in this wine. It is brooding, mineral and focused, instantly announcing itself as a long-term wine.
And yet, as is the Cavallotto way, the wine’s power is not expressed through blunt force. It’s about persistence of flavor and aroma delivered via bright acid and firm—not forbidding—tannins. Nebbiolo, as lovers of the variety know, is a “this goes to eleven” kind of grape: high acid, high tannin, high alcohol. The acid is critical in balancing/taming the other two, and in this wine, it’s the driving force (as it is in the best red Burgundies). In a way, this wine is kind of stealth in the way it presents itself: it feels lifted, even refreshing, even as it’s unleashing a torrent on your palate.
Cavallotto’s house style is resolutely ‘traditional’: the wine undergoes a long maceration on its skins (about a month) during its first fermentation, and is aged for a little over three years in large, used Slavonian oak vats of varying sizes. That’s a relatively long oak aging regimen even by Barolo standards, and yet the oak is never intrusive in new-release Cavallotto wines. On the contrary, it is at most a background note in a wine that has been given the chance to knit together and begin to mature before it has even left the dark depths of the cellar.
Heralded by critic Antonio Galloni as a vintage of “impeccable balance,” the 2016 Bricco Boschis lives up to that billing. Although tightly coiled and powerful, as is to be expected, there’s a fine-grained quality to the tannins rather than rough, forbidding edges. In the glass, it’s a medium ruby leading to garnet and a touch of orange at the rim. The nose is an absolute cacophony of wild strawberry, black plum, Morello cherry, pipe tobacco, black tea, clove, licorice, and so much more. On the palate, it vibrates with energy but needs a good hour in a decanter to shed some of its grip and allow the fruit to show through. It is readily evident that this is going to be an epic, long-lived wine. Whenever the occasion arises for you to open a bottle, decant it about an hour before serving at 60-65 in Burgundy stems, ideally sometime this winter when some long-braised beef or lamb is ready to hit the table, maybe with a comforting dollop of soft, buttery polenta underneath. Bricco Boschis will cut through it like a glinting, perfectly sharp knife and you will be celebrating the stretching of your wine dollar to its absolute limit. Enjoy!