Cavallotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”
Cavallotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”

Cavallotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”

Piedmont, Italy 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$85.00

Cavallotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”

At this point, all we can think to do when a new release of Cavallotto Barolo lands is to stand and applaud. Or maybe a respectful salute would be in order. We’re talking Cavallotto here, one of the all-time greats of Barolo, and yet it still lands “on the shelf” for well under $100 a bottle. The “Bricco Boschis” vineyard, where the Cavallottos have been perched for generations, is a Grand Cru-equivalent site in the village of Castiglione Falletto, and the wine has a long track record of aging for decades. And still…look at the price! Having tasted vintage after vintage from this venerable estate, I expect this stellar ’18 to age gracefully for 20+ years, not by being a tannic brute in its youth but because of its precision balance and vivid, live-giving acidity. Once again, Alfio Cavallotto has crafted a modern classic and released it at a price that should leave you with just one question: How much can I fit?

The heart and soul of the Cavallotto operation is “Bricco Boschis,” which fans out beneath the winery in a southwest-facing amphitheater and reaches to 340 meters in elevation. 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 heft and heavy oak influence. 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 the kraken 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.

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, dried rose petal, 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!

Cavallotto, Barolo “Bricco Boschis”

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