Figli Luigi Oddero
La Morra, Barolo
Figli Luigi Oddero
La Morra, Barolo
The Luigi Oddero estate’s exceptional Barbera d’Alba comes entirely from vineyards within close proximity to the old Parà facility in the Santa Maria sector of La Morra, primarily with a western exposition and averaging 25 years of age. Vinified in cement and aged in 70-hectoliter casks for one year, this wine demonstrates the same combination of traditionalism and precision as the Barolo. Proud, fresh acidity serves as a balance beam upon which savory red fruits leap and strut, and the wine displays a marked sense of liveliness. It’s a Barbera that deftly renders La Morra’s inherent elegance through its own varietal lens.
Sourced from the lower-altitude slopes within the estate’s parcels in the crus Rive (La Morra) and Scarrone (Castiglione Falletto), Oddero's Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively a Barolo—at least in terms of its zip code. While these more clay-dominated parts of the crus yield fruit of less mineral-inflected complexity than those destined for the Barolo bottlings, one still senses the elegance and lurking power of which these environs are capable. It undergoes a briefer maceration than the Barolo in order to emphasize its freshness and perfume, and aging takes place in massive 85-hectoliter oak botti for 18 months. This wine displays fine-grained tannins and impressive length, with attractive and effusive aromas of roses, herbal spice, and perfectly ripened strawberries.
The family rents a two-and-a-half-hectare parcel of 30-year-old Nebbiolo in the renowned Barbaresco cru of Rombone in Treiso—coincidentally, just adjacent to the holdings there of our other new partner in the Langhe, Ada Nada, near the summit of the slope at around 300 meters altitude. Their version of this cru spends 18 months in a single enormous 85-hectoliter oak cask, plus an additional year resting in bottle, before its release. The wine is gorgeous, showing the exceptionally refined touch that Dante and Francesco have brought to the Oddero operation—one which expresses the estate’s traditional sensibility through an exceptionally and instinctively sensitive lens. The pure, luscious strawberry fruit possesses a sense of coolness, and the palate reflects the vintage’s tannic nature in a true but well-judged manner—appropriately firmly structured, but without being hard or mean.
Vino Rosso, “Convento”
A blend of Dolcetto, with some Barbera—and a touch of Nebbiolo for structure—from vineyards around the cellar at Santa Maria. Varietals are naturally fermented in stainless steel, assembled and matured for 6 months or so in cement (with the Nebbiolo component in cask) with spontaneous malo, and then assembled in the late Spring after harvest for bottling. Light and crunchy with violet-y berry fruit that speaks of its Dolcetto majority, yet with decent grip and structure.
Given Oddero's staggering 35 hectares worth of Nebbiolo di Barolo, the estate has historically sold off a portion of its production in bulk, reserving the best-exposed sites in the best spots for its Barolo “Tradizionale”. In exceptional vintages, however, they now bottle a second Barolo for us, mainly from parcels in La Morra. They named it “Convento”—a nod to the fact that their estate was a convent in the early 17th c. It is vinified and aged just like their Barolo “Tradizionale”: natural fermentation in stainless steel with a 25-day maceration, followed by two years in large Slavonian-oak casks. Convento emphasizes purity of fruit over structure, with a lifted mineral streak of lovely clarity. That said, it is still very much a traditional Barolo in the style of Oddero, bearing no trace of oak aromatics or wood tannins, and with a perfume simultaneously ethereal and savory.
The estate’s Barolo “Tradizionale” is a complex assemblage of various prime parcels, vinified and aged separately, with the final blend determined through tasting trials. Fermentation occurs in cement without the addition of yeasts, and aging takes place in huge oak botti of 65 to 85 hectoliters capacity. This is a gorgeous, elegant Barolo of arresting purity, offering high-toned spices, deep red fruits, a background note of mouthwatering salinity, and a long, graceful finish buttressed by tannins that hug warmly rather than squeeze forcefully. It is undeniably traditional, yet rendered with great sensitivity, and the wine's natural power takes a backseat to an overarching impression of harmony and freshness.
The previous owner constructed an observatory tower (a “specola”) in the center of the Rive cru, atop which he would monitor his team working the vineyards below, bellowing instructions through a primitive megaphone. Luigi Oddero made this tower the symbol of his new winery, christening his bottling of Rive as “Specola.” Rive possesses fossil-rich soils typical of this sector of La Morra, and Oddero’s “Specola” comprises only the center of the cru, a south-facing amphitheater which yields intense fruit concentration and structural elegance along with extraordinary acidity and freshness. The tannins are well-integrated, and its beautifully textured flavors veer from macerated strawberries to warm stones to iodine—making for a complex yet highly approachable Barolo.
Barolo, “Rocche Rivera”
“Rocche Rivera” is a cru within a cru: a south-facing vineyard situated at 300 meters altitude within the Castiglione Falletto cru of Scarrone, immediately adjacent to the fabled Rocche di Castiglione. Though Oddero owns a notable 4 hectares in Scarrone, “Rocche Rivera” comprises only the upper portion with the most favorable exposition. This high-altitude, well-drained vineyard of sand and limestone produces wines of sizzling mineral-driven tension and notable refinement, and this wine possesses those qualities in spades, with delicious flavors of ripe, dark mentholated cherries and herbal spice, rife with energy, with a reticence in its youth—a tense-muscled sprinter still coiled over the starting block.
The fabled cru of Vignarionda in Serralunga d’Alba is one of the most singular in all of Barolo. In his epic reference tome Barolo MGA Vol. 1, Alessandro Masnaghetti writes: “…the Barolo which is produced here can be termed—even more than a Barolo of Serralunga d’Alba—a Barolo of Vignarionda, such is the imprint of the cru.” The Luigi Oddero estate owns a hectare of south-facing vines in these old, limestone-rich soils, situated at 350 meters altitude, and the Barolo they produce here is always released several years later than their “Tradizionale”—befitting its powerfully structured, tightly concentrated personality. A wine created from truly profound terroir often proves extra-resistant to description, possessed of a certain “x-factor” that sets it apart from its brethren—something akin to charisma in humans, but suffused with the mysteries of the earth. Oddero’s “Vigna Rionda” has that in spades; its nose, full of wild animal, evokes forest depths, prompting a physiological response: widening eyes, a sharp intake of breath, a sense that this here is truly special. There’s something provocative about a wine such as this, which all but forces the taster to reckon with its very existence, threatening to rearrange one’s very notion of what the category can be. The palate similarly elicits wonder—a dynamic and potent unfurling of lip-smacking minerality, ultra-fine-grained tannins, and dense, small-berried fruit. Few vineyards in Barolo are capable of this level of profundity, and if the zone were to ever develop a “Grand Cru” classification, Vignarionda would undoubtedly sit near the very top.
A close relative of the Nebbiolo grape, Freisa has the ability to produce wines of substance and structure, yet, in the right hands, it can convey a lithe and ethereal character that belies its family history. From mid-hillside vineyards in La Morra, this Freisa is fermented in stainless steel, undergoes malolactic fermentation in concrete, and returns to stainless to finish its élevage before bottling.