Ciabot Berton Bricco San Biagio Barbera D'Alba 2017
Ciabot Berton Bricco San Biagio Barbera D'Alba is an intense ruby purple in colour, the nose shows rich aromas of ripe, dark fruit compôte and a whiff of smokey vanilla oak. The rich texture is enhanced by the ripeness of the tannins and by the well-integrated oak, all balanced by a pleasant level of acidity and a fine, structured finish.
- Country: Italy
- Region: Piemonte
- Subregion: Alba
- Vintage: 2017
- Colour: Red
- Grape Variety: Barbera
- ABV: 14.5%
- Bottle Size: 75cl
- Closure: Natural cork
- Style: Dark and oaky
- Drink With: Pasta with rich meat sauces
Bricco San Biaggio is not only Ciabot Berton’s flagship Barbera, but possibly one of the region’s too. The small hillside of Bricco San Biaggio in La Morra is actually Barolo territory, but Marco and Paola Oberto own a special patch of 60 year old Barbera vines that produce excellent wine. If they were to grub them up and planted Nebbiolo they could charge far more per bottle, but thankfully they’re happier to make wonderful wines than they are to charge premium prices. Most of the 2.5 hectare vineyard was planted 35 years ago, but 0.3 hectares was planted 10 years ago.
The lightness of the Bricco San Biagio soil is due to its veins of sand, conferring delicate floral aromas to the wines and resulting in elegant, refined examples of Barolo. However, among the rows of Nebbiolo vines is one of the oldest Barbera vineyards in the region. Planted after the Second World War by Marco and Paola’s maternal grandfather, Giacomo, these rows of vines extend for 0.3 hectares and yield small but concentrated bunches of Barbera grapes.
From James Suckling’s website:
This (2011) is a very polished Barbera with beautiful blackberry, dark-chocolate and flower character. Full body, super-integrated tannins and a long, long finish. This shows such class for the grape. Drink now. 93 Points
About the grower
The Oberto family can trace its origins back at least as far as 1200, when the Germanic surname of Obertus first appeared in a La Morra land register, and there are records of the same family cultivating vines in the area in the 1800s. By the end of the 1950s, Luigi Oberto and his father Giovenale were tending their 2 hectares of Nebbiolo on the hill of Bricco San Biagio, selling the grapes at the market in Alba.
Around that time, Luigi decided to build his own winery and produce wine himself, thereby cutting out the middlemen and increasing the rewards for all of his efforts. Amounting to just a few thousand bottles, Luigi’s first vintage of Barolo was bottled in 1961, with a portion of the wine from his best cask set aside as a Riserva and part of his production sold in cask to the major producers of the area. As the years passed, the estate expanded and its vineyards now cover 12 hectares, both through his purchase of precious hillside vineyards and as a result of his wife, Maria Beatrice, inheriting land in the historic Roggeri cru.
The current winery was built in the 1980s, on a site that had always been known by the name of Ciabot Berton. The small building, or “ciabot” in Piemontese dialect, which stands there once belonged to a man called Berton who had attempted to manufacture fireworks inside it. Not entirely surprisingly, he ended up causing an explosion and blew the roof off the building! This old ruin, which gave its name to the company, can still be seen from the winery and is now surrounded by Nebbiolo vineyards. In homage to Berton’s albeit misguided endeavours, the Obertos named their Barbera D’Alba fisetta or “firework”.
Since the 1990s, Luigi’s children Marco, an oenologist, and Paola, an agronomist, have been working alongside him on the estate. Increasingly aware of the quality and of the potential of their vineyards, Marco and Paola began to vinify the fruit of the different parcels of vines separately, selecting only the best batches of Barolo for bottling. By making small but important changes such as this, and by taking advantage of Luigi’s great experience, the wines of Ciabot Berton are going from strength to strength, gaining ever more appreciation and admiration along the way.