At Vino Italiano with Giorgio Rivetti
A fabulous evening at Vino Italiano in Waltham, MA sampling the wines of La Spinetta. Giorgio Rivetti, one of three brothers who own La Spinetta led our group through a blind tasting of not only La Spinetta wines, but also the sparkling wines of Contratto. It was a truly amazing evening and Giorgio proved to be the consummate ambassador for not only the wines of Piedmont, but for all Italian culture.
La Spinetta has long been a favorite of mine and while they are not among the oldest producers in Piedmont, they are among the best. Started in 1977 by Giorgio’s parents, they began producing incredible single-vineyard Barbaresco wines from their 100-hectare (250 acre) estate in Castagnole Lanze. In 2000 they acquired additional property at their Campe estate in Grinzane Cavour. At Campe they produce a world-class Barolo that is beyond compare. The brothers also purchased 65-hactare in Tuscany and established their Casanova estate, producing three pure Sangiovese wines that are the inimitable expression of Toscana.
At the event in Waltham, the focus was on the Barbaresco and Barolo wines, nicely introduced by some of the La Spinetta white wines (Moscato d’Asti and Timorasso), as well as their remarkable Vermentino from Tuscany, as well as Contratto sparkling wines.
Guests were greeted with a single cru Moscato d’Asti, the Bricco Quaglia. The Moscato is light and floral in the nose with apricot, peach and lychee hints. Fruity on the palate with citrus and melon notes. Lightly sweet, not cloying with a crisp, refreshing finish. Simply wonderful as an aperitif.
2021 La Spinetta Bricco Quaglia
Guests were seated and an assortment of Italian Antipasti was served.
To accompany the little bites, a trio of lovely sparkling Contratto wines were poured. The wines were served blind, but upon reveal, were as follows:
2019 Contratto Millesimato Pas Dose
Yeasty nose with lemony citrus. Well-balanced with moderate acidity. Tight with a light, crisp palate. Moussy with vanilla and oak notes. Tart, lemony finish with a touch of fresh strawberry on the aftertaste.
2017 Contratto For England Blanc de Noirs
Yeasty, toasty nose. Well-balanced with moderate acidity. Light, crisp palate. Oaky with a creamy, yeasty palate. Tastes older than it is, which is why the wine is called “For England.” Long finish with vanilla and oak on the aftertaste.
2012 Contratto Cuvee Novecento Pas Dose
Tight, citrusy nose with anise and citrus hints. Well-balanced with firm acidity. Tart, slightly bitter palate. Some yeast and mousse notes. Moderate length, crisp.
The next course was Tuna Crostone (Sushi Grade Tuna, Avocado, Micro Greens, Citrus Marinade, Crostone) and was served with a pair of dry white wines, again, blind. The tuna was remarkably fresh and the interplay of the Avocado and Citrus Marinade married perfectly with the two wines.
The wines were revealed as follows:
2022 La Spinetta Vermentino Toscana
Citrus nose, white peach – lovely. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced. Peach, apricot, and pear on the palate. Racy, edgy with a long finish. Charming, beguiling.
2022 La Spinetta Timorasso Derthona
Hazelnut, white pepper, and peach on the nose. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Tart lemon on the palate with minerality and vanilla. Long finish – layered. Worked better on its own than with the food. Contemplative.
The next course was Strozzapreti al Ragu di Coniglio (Strozzapreti Pasta with Braised Rabbit, Dry Cherries and Ricotta Salata) The ragu was deeply flavored with gamey notes that played beautifully against the cherries and provided a perfect backdrop for the next three, blind wines, which upon reveal were the single cru Barbarescos:
And the wines:
2020 La Spinetta Gallina, Barbaresco
Dried cherry, violets, floral, book leather on the nose. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced – tight with firm tannins. More dried cherry on the palate with licorice and anise notes. Tart. Long finish, but tight. Needs time.
2020 La Spinetta Staderi, Barbaresco
Earthy nose – barnyard, brambles, dried cherry hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with tight, firm tannin. Intense on the palate with herbaceous notes. Long finish, again tight. Needs a lot of time. Magnificent.
2020 La Spinetta, Valeirano, Barbaresco
Black cherry, saddle leather, anise hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with firm tannin. Dark fruit on the palate, cocoa dust, black pepper. Long finish, tight. Needs time. Impressive.
The next course was Scaloppa di Capriolo (Pan-Seared Venison Medallion, Potato Croquette, Broccoli Rabe, Red Wine Sugo) and was served with a single cloaked wine. The venison was delightful, lightly gamey, melt-in-your mouth tender with a richly flavored wine reduction.
The single wine was revealed to be the flagship wine of La Spinetta, the Campe Barolo.
2019 La Spinetta Campe, Barolo
Cherry, floral hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with tight, firm tannin. Dried cherry, anise, brambles, and book leather. Lovely. Long finish. Tight. Needs a ton of time. Superb.
The final entrée course was Brasato al Barolo (Slowly Braised Beef Short Ribs in Barolo Wine, Creamy Polenta, Sautéed Tuscan Kale) and was served with another single, cloaked wine. The braised short ribs were heavenly, melting perfectly in the mouth with a toothsome, slightly chewy bite. The Barolo reduction was perfect – meaty and rich.
The last wine was revealed as another vintage of the Campe Barolo.
2005 La Spinetta Campe, Barolo
Earthy, book leather, dried cherry – explosive on the nose. Full-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with silky tannin. Delicious palate. Cherry, anise, violets, gamey. Long finish, opening but reserved. So much more time. One of the best Barolo I have tasted from any vintage.
The evening was capped off with a Berry Almond Crostata (Mixed Berry, Almond Cream, Vanila Ice Cream), the perfect balance of creamy sweetness and almond, nutty bite.
Yet another amazing evening – a very big thank you to everyone at Vino Italiano and an even bigger thank you to Giorgio Rivetti, one of the most genuine, down-to-earth wine ambassadors – a true gentleman. Bravo!