2018 Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco "Rabajà"
2018 Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco "Rabajà"

2018 Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco "Rabajà"

Piedmont, Italy 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$80.00

2018 Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco "Rabajà"

Barbaresco and Barolo both rank among the most rarefied wine appellations on earth. No serious wine collection is complete without ample stocks from both places. But there’s still a pricing disparity among the wines which, when quality is factored in, doesn’t really make sense. Only a handful of producers command the big-ticket prices, and collectors, like lemmings, fight over the wines from this handful—when, all the while, there are stunning, affordable, resolutely classic wines like this “cru” Barbaresco from Castello di Verduno right there for the taking. Not only is this wine sourced from perhaps the most venerated single vineyard in Barbaresco—the beautifully situated “Rabajà”—it is produced by a family whose history and accomplishments in this region are as deep and distinguished as any. This is a Barbaresco “blue chip” by any measure except price. It delivers plenty of thrills now and is poised to blow your mind should you have the patience to cellar some. Talk about an under-the-radar superstar: Castello di Verduno is it!

To put a finer point on it: This is a producer that should be mentioned in the same breath as all-time-greats like Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno, and, closer to home, G.B. Burlotto. That last name, in fact, looms large in the history of Italian wine: the commendatore Giovan Battista Burlotto was one of the very first producers to bottle Barolo and promote it on the world stage as a worthy competitor to the best wines of France. His descendants not only run his namesake winery, but the Castello di Verduno as well. Both are headquartered in the hamlet of Verduno, the northernmost of the 11 communes that make up the Barolo DOCG.

The current-generation Burlotto at the helm of Castello di Verduno is Gabriella Burlotto, whose husband, Franco Bianco, comes from a long line of vignaioli in nearby Barbaresco. When they married, they united their Verduno vineyard holdings under the Castello di Verduno banner—although, as required by law, the Barbaresco wines are vinified in their own dedicated winery in Barbaresco and aged in the castle’s cellars. Under the supervision of talented young winemaker Mario Andrion, who has been at Castello di Verduno since 2000, the wines continue to be made in a resolutely “traditional” manner: during fermentation, the Nebbiolo grapes are left to macerate on their skins for extended periods, and when it comes time to age the wines, they spend longer-than-required times in oak barrels (always large, used casks) and bottle before release.

“Rabajà” is part of a string of south/southwest-facing vineyards along the roadway leading into the town of Barbaresco proper, and the assortment of producers bottling wines from this site reads like a who’s-who of the appellation. The Bianco/Burlotto family parcels in the site date to the 1970s, providing exceptional raw material for a bottling which, in 2018, displays some real muscle and drive. In the glass, it’s a deep ruby moving to garnet and a hint of orange at the rim, with perfumed aromas of red and black cherry, currant, blood orange, sandalwood, cigar wrapper, dried rose petals, and a hint of tar. Whether it’s Barbaresco or Barolo, Castello di Verduno has long been known for wines of great tension, and while this one is true to form in that regard, it’s also got some breadth to it—you can enjoy some now (after an hour or so in a decanter), or you can lay some down. Might we suggest both? At this price, why not? 

2018 Castello di Verduno, Barbaresco "Rabajà"

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