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Cascina Val del Prete, Nebbiolo d'AlbaPiedmont, Italy 2015 (750mL)

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Cascina Val del Prete, Nebbiolo d'Alba Piedmont, Italy 2015 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

In recent years, lovers of Barolo have migrated northward in search of great Nebbiolo-based wines at less-prohibitive prices. The upper reaches of the Piedmont region (more northerly appellations like Gattinara and Ghemme) have become hot destinations, but many Nebbiolo aficionados have failed to look much closer to home for their value fix: Roero. 


The Roero DOCG is literally Barolo’s backyard, picking up where Barolo leaves off on the north side of the Tanaro River. It’s a wilder, less traveled landscape, with fewer signposts for wineries dotting every corner, but as I’ve experienced time and again, the best wines of Roero cede nothing to those of their more-famous neighbors—except, of course, for the prices they’re able to fetch in the market. Today’s beautifully finessed 2015 from Cascina Val di Prete is Roero at the very top of its game, a true conversation-piece wine at a remarkable price. If you are a seasoned Nebbiolo drinker, you will find it fascinating, and if you’re an occassional Nebbiolo drinker, this is the kind of wine that may send you down a rabbit hole. Sometimes in wine, the stars align, and in 2015, that happened a little more often than usual. You’ll see what I mean when you taste it!




For the hardcore Nebbiolo-philes out there, this 2015 is a picture-perfect evocation of the conventional wisdom on Roero: that it produces more finessed, floral styles of Nebbiolo. Although it effectively borders Barolo, the Roero zone is geologically “younger.” Its soils are marine sediments of reddish-yellow sand and loam (as opposed to the limestone marls and sandstone of Barolo) and its topography is slightly more open and rolling than Barolo’s tightly packed hills. Roero’s soils have proved especially conducive to the development of aromatics in the famously perfumed Nebbiolo, while also producing wines a shade less tannic than their Barolo neighbors. In today’s instance, the warm and ripe 2015 vintage surely played a role, but the wine’s combination of easy accessibility, complexity, and length is Roero exemplified.


At the same time, this wine was aged 24 months in new French oak barriques—and yet you’d never know it. For those still mired in the “modernist” versus “traditionalist” debate surrounding Nebbiolo wines (a debate which centers mostly on the type of aging vessel used), this wine is going to be confusing. Oak is not central to its story at all. It’s all about fruit, spice, earth, and the energy that comes from conscientious organic farming. It is the very opposite of an oak-dominated bruiser. 


Cascina Val di Prete (the name means “valley of the priest,” referring to a 19th-century bishop from Asti who lived on the property while in exile) is in the village of Priocca d’Alba, about 30 kilometers northeast of Barolo, with about 9 hectares of vineyards in two of the town’s key cru vineyards: “Madonna delle Grazie” and “Cascinotto.” Proprietor Mario Roagna draws on 30+-year-old vines for this Nebbiolo d’Alba bottling, macerating the hand-harvested grapes on their skins for about a month during fermentation and aging the wine in barrel, then bottle, before release. In all, just 4,000 bottles of this 2015 were produced, a tiny fraction of which made their way to us.


But, as I think I’ve made clear by now, we’ll take every bottle we can. This is an exceptionally pretty expression of Nebbiolo, powerful and lasting without being ponderous. In the glass, In the glass, it’s a bright cranberry red with hints of pink and orange, with a bright array of fruit and floral aromas: raspberries, cherries, blood oranges, rose petals, pu-erh tea, sandalwood, pink peppercorns, and crushed rocks. It is medium-bodied on the palate, with mouth-watering acidity for pairing with food: Go with pork or leaner beef dishes with this one, and keep it on the cooler side of 60-65 degrees after a 60-minute decant. As delicious as it is now, I wouldn’t mind losing a few bottles and re-discovering them in 3-5 years’ time—you really couldn’t ask for more ROI on a $35 investment. Cheers!




Cascina Val del Prete, Nebbiolo d'Alba Piedmont, Italy 2015 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionRoero
  • SoilSand & Loam
  • FarmingCertified Biodynamic & Organic
  • BlendNebbiolo
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakNew French Barrels

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionRoero
  • SoilSand & Loam
  • FarmingCertified Biodynamic & Organic
  • BlendNebbiolo
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakNew French Barrels
  • Production325 cases
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2026+
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingCrispy Slow-Roasted Pork Belly