About the Wine
Antonio Galloni has a crush on La Ca Nova and "can't recommend these wines highly enough." Given his expertise and long reporting history in Piemonte, it's probably time for all lovers of Nebbiolo to take heed.
Antonio Galloni says, "La Ca' Nova is, in my view, the single most under-the-radar winery in all of Piedmont. The wines just keep getting better and better, yet prices remain exceedingly modest, especially within the context of today’s market."
La Ca Nova has quietly been making outstanding, terroir-driven Barbarescos for generations from two of the appellation's top crus, Montestefano, and Montefico. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect is that these polished and compelling wines are made without utilizing modern technology. There is no secret as to why these wines are quintessential expressions of Nebbiolo – it all starts in the vineyards with healthy grapes that are allowed to reach optimal ripeness.
Although La Ca Nova has flown under the radar for decades, they have received a fair share of the spotlight. In 2019 Forbes named them as an honorable mention amongst the top 25 producers in Barbaresco. Wine critic extraordinaire, Antonio Galloni, annually bestows high praise for this little-known gem consistently scoring their wines in the mid to high 90s. But the highest praise this winery has received is through the reputation of Barbaresco's most elite producer, Gaja, when pioneer Angelo Gaja would purchase these grapes to use in production for his own wines. There's no doubt that this wine will continue to outshine many of its counterparts, it's not every day you find a sub $39 bottle of Barbaresco that outperforms many of its $100+ compatriots.
Pietro Rocca, the family's smiling and modest patriarch, is a fourth-generation grape grower. In the early 1970s, he began making and bottling Barbarescos; before that, his family sold their grapes to the Barbaresco behemoth Angelo Gaja. Their single-vineyard bottlings come from two of the most coveted sites in Barbaresco. Montestefano produces some of the most structured Barbarescos, and the Roccas own prime parcels situated at 270 m above sea level with full southern exposures. Motefico, where the Roccas own the Bric Mentina vineyard, has a similar altitude, Southern and southeastern exposure, and marl soil. Local legend has it that Montefico was once owned by Domizio Cavazza, the founding father of Barbaresco.
Today Pietro is joined by his sons Marco, an enologist, and Ivan, an agronomist who tends to the vineyards. The family adopts a strictly hands-off approach in the winery, using only wild and native yeasts for fermentation. This takes place mostly in steel tanks and three wooden conical bats, but with no temperature control. Just before fermentation is complete, the family continues fermentation and maceration with the antique tradition known as steccatura, whereby wooden planks keep the cap submerged in the tank. This time-consuming method gently extracts more color and polyphenols. For La Ca Nova's single-vineyard bottlings, fermentation and maceration generally take twenty-five to thirty days. After fermentation, the Barbarescos are aged in 30-hectoliter casks, but rather than Slovenian oak, Pietro prefers Austrian oak: “They are untoasted and neutral, and are the best-quality barrels I have ever seen. In fourteen years, not one has ever leaked a drop.”
2020 is looking to be a great year for Barbaresco. This vintage was awarded this vintage a 92-95 point review, and said, "Early tasting suggests a strong vintage for Barbaresco in 2020, potentially the finest since 2016 for some producers. The best wines are rich and generous in feel, with finely integrated tannins and impressive balance. There is a purity to the 2020s that is immediately alluring."
Aging: 18 months in 3000L oak casks
Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo.
See critical reviews for detailed tasting notes.
The impressive 2020 Montestefano from La Ca’ Nova opens with heady scents of iris, violet, wild berry and new leather. Full-bodied and utterly delicious, the enveloping, structured palate doles out ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry, baking spice and licorice alongside firm, seasoned tannins. ~96 Kerin O'Keefe
The 2020 Barbaresco Montestefano is a dense, plush wine, in other words, classic Montestefano. Like all the Barbarescos here, the Montestefano is relatively open, which will surely please readers who can't or don't want to cellar their wines. Dark Nebbiolo fruit intermingled with spice, leather, incense, and licorice build into the creamy, resonant finish. The 2020 is a gorgeous wine. ~95 Vinous
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