We heard about this special little "under-the-radar" estate in Barbaresco, separately, from two friends who are definitely Piedmont insiders. In fact, it is hard to imagine how such a amazing and singular gem of a winery could remain such a secret for so long!? Cascina Baricchi is a unique estate in that, to our knowledge, it is the only producer of a Barbaresco (for their Rose delle Casasse bottling) made one hundred percent from the Nebbiolo Rose clone* (more on the clone discussion later). The winery is in a small village called Neviglie which is actually just outside of the official Barbaresco zone, though given the quality of the vineyards and their historical importance, Baricchi is grandfathered in to be allowed to bottle his wine as Barbaresco.
The estate is run by Natale Simonetta and his wife, Francesca. Natale’s family is originally from the Varese area in Lombardia not far from Ghemme and Gattinara. His family was in the tile business, though in 1991 he had an accident while skiing and had to leave the family business. He was also on the Italian national super motocross team and had to leave that as well. After the accident, he decided to move to Barbaresco where his father had bought an estate back in 1979. It was there that Natale fell in love with wine. And while he did not graduate from enological school, he studied with the legendary Bruno Giacosa whom he feels gave him a ample and enlightened foundation for making great wine. The winery started producing wine in 1989 though the first commercial Barbaresco bottled was from the 1996 vintage.
The winery makes about eight to ten thousand bottles of Barbaresco per year, which in fact is all released as Riserva. They make the previously mentioned Riserva Rose delle Casasse from a vineyard called Casasse which is in Neive though it was not granted status as an official cru or “menzioni” for the DOCG. The original vines in the vineyard were planted in 1913 and the subsequent replantings were made from massale selections from those old vines. Currently there are .4 hectare of vines from 1913, .2 planted in 2008 and .8 planted in 2009. There are some who claim that Nebbiolo Rose is genetically distinct from Nebbiolo and a separate grape entirely (though related), though others believe it is just a different clone of Nebbiolo. Natale believes the latter.
Their second Barbaresco Riserva “Quindicianni” is a blend of fruit from Casasse and Bricco di Treiso. The Nebbiolo from Casasse is Rose clone and the Nebbiolo from Bricco di Treiso is the Michet clone, of which he has about .5 hectares. This wine is aged in cask for five years followed by an additional ten years in the bottle before release, hence the “Quindicianni,” or fifteen years.
Baricchi’s wines are produced in a traditional style with relatively long macerations and extended ageing in large, neutral botti. Fermentations are done with natural yeasts and last 15-18 days with pump-overs and occasionally delestage as well in years where the color is light. After fermentation, the wines are macerated for an additional 10 days or so with capello sommerso, or submerged cap, before pressing into large, neutral botti. Here, the wines are aged for a minimum of five years before being bottled.
The Rose delle Casasse has a very distinct style being from all Nebbiolo Rose. Nebbiolo Rose is said to make aromatic wines though often with a bit less extraction and color. That said, Baricchi's Barbaresco Riserva Rose delle Casasse is actually quite powerful and distinct in style with floral aromes but also notes of earth, spice, licorice and autumn leaves. And the Quindicianni is nothing short of a masterpiece. At 15 years, it is still on the front end of maturity, but still brooding, intense and complex with a long future ahead of it!
And if all this wasn't enough to make any Piedmont enthusiast dance with glee, we are also fortunate that, in addition to his array of beautiful, current release Barbaresco Riservas, Natale keeps some inventory of precious older vintages which we receive occasionally in small quantities.
Just don't tell too many people or our little under-the-radar secret will get out...!