La Spinetta Releases ‘Best Wines’ From Hyped 2016 Vintage
“I was thoroughly impressed with the wines I tasted with proprietor Giorgio Rivetti on my last trip to La Spinetta,” wrote Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media of this hyped Piedmont harvest.
It echoes Galloni’s – and our – impression of a neat trajectory for the Rivetti family with these wines. They’ve long had their fans, of course, and especially with bottle age the stylistic edges soften in these wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, to reveal provenance and fruit quality. As time goes on, the stamp of the estate has become even lighter to the point where these organically farmed vines to which Giorgio Rivetti devotes himself are truly front and centre.
“Longer macerations and a reduction in oak influence are giving the Barbarescos a bit more fruit purity and energy than they had in the past, which is terrific news,” Galloni goes on. “The 2016s are, in my view, the best wines Rivetti has made here.”
THE PIEDMONT 2016s
The Mango vineyard, named for its sandy soil, is located in Piedmont and sits 500m above sea level. Both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation are done inside large French oak barrels before the wine is transferred to stainless steel vats for 24 months. The wine is named in honour of Lidia Rivetti, founder and mother of Giorgio, who now runs the estate. – La Spinetta
Tangy and fruity with sliced-apple and cooked-pear character. Honey, too. Medium to full body. Bright acidity and a clean finish. Drink now. 91 points.James Suckling, jamessuckling.com April 2019
Great typicality, crushed violets and raspberry fruit and nice savoury crunchy notes. Round and attractive on the palate with firm tannins and juicy cool fruit to back it up. Not quite ready for business yet, but the fruit and acidity are all there and in perfect order. 16/20Alistair Cooper MW jancisrobinson.com December 2019
This Barbaresco is of a thicker and darker concentration than the others within this set of new releases, with ripe cherry fruit and dark berries that lift immediately from the glass. But the 2016 Barbaresco Vigneto Bordini is thinner and less consequential in the mouth than I had expected from the appearance. This is a very linear and streamlined approach that could accompany a tenderloin carpaccio with arugula, shaved Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. 92 points.Monica Larner, Wine Advocate June 2019
A uniquely pretty nose with plenty of peach tea, persimmon and earl grey tea. Medium to full body, round and generous tannins and a orange-coated finish. Drink from 2021. 93 points.James Suckling, jamessuckling.com November 2017
The grapes hail from the first cru site La Spinetta purchased: Gallina. It features calcareous soil with bounteous chalk and limestone. The average age of the vines is 56 years. True to the La Spinetta philosophy, no pesticides or herbicides are used. Prior to its release three years from harvest, this Barbaresco sees fermentation for eight days in a temperature-controlled environment. Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak before maturation for 20-22 months in new, medium-toast French oak barrels. The wine is aged for a further three months in stainless steel vats. No filtration or clarifying is done before bottling and a further 12 months’ aging. – La Spinetta
Supremely elegant and light on its feet, La Spinetta’s 2016 Barbaresco Vigneto Gallina is simply fabulous. Freshly cut flowers, mint, spice and a touch of French oak add nuance to a core of sweet red/purplish berry fruit. Wonderfully supple and racy, the Gallina captures every bit of the potential 2016 had to offer. This is such a gorgeous wine. I can’t remember tasting a Gallina here with this much diversity. 95 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media August 2019
The 2016 Barbaresco Gallina Vürsù is a streamlined wine that brings less to the table in terms of richness but more in terms of intensity and structure. The tannins here are well integrated, and there are some light notes of spice and tobacco, but this beautiful Nebbiolo still has a way to go. This vintage should look forward to aging gracefully. The wine ages in oak for 22 months. 94 points.Monica Larner, Wine Advocate June 2019
Wow. This is at once a pronounced and vibrant nose, revealing wild strawberries, peaches, freshly picked raspberries, cinnamon, rose petals and stems. I love the steely tannins on the palate, which carve out an iron fist of fruit, but also a generous and velvety texture. Long and intense on the finish. Drink from 2024. 95 points.James Suckling, jamessuckling.com April 2019
Sourced from the Starderi cru site, 270m above sea level. The calcareous soil features a lot of chalk and limestone. The vines have an average age of 52 to 57 years and are farmed sustainably, with no use of pesticides or herbicides. The Barbaresco is fermented for eight days, with malolactic conversion taking place in oak. The wine matures in new, medium-toast French oak for 20-22 months before being moved to stainless steel vats for three months. The wine is bottled and aged a further 12 months without filtration or fining. – La Spinetta
The 2016 Barbaresco Vigneto Starderi is outrageously beautiful. Dense, powerful and rich, the 2016 races out of the glass with huge fruit to match its classically mid-weight profile. Super-ripe red/purplish berry fruit, wild flowers, licorice and mint play off the huge tannins with real grace. Readers have to be patient, but the 2016 Starderi is a rock star wine. That’s pretty much all there is to it. 96 points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous MediaAugust 2019
The 2016 Barbaresco Starderi Vürsù starts with a no-nonsense obscure color and ends with lots of dark fruit on the close. In between, it shows a spot of bitterness on the tongue, delivered with ripe fruit and some rather tight tannins. There are lots of tar notes here too, along with the sort of resin and camphor ash you might not have been expecting from such a youthful Barbaresco. But this one has a heavy center of gravity and is not to be trifled with. It’s a big and bold wine that demands a rare cut of beef. 95 points.Monica Larner, Wine Advocate June 2019
Raspberry coulis, dried red plums, vanilla, cedar and spice box make for a pronounced and beguiling nose. Full-bodied and very powerful on the palate, yet the tannins are polished and the acidity focused and refreshing. Drink from 2023. 95 points.James Suckling, jamessuckling.com April 2019
Located in the town of Treiso lies the smallest of La Spinetta’s vineyards, with a mere three hectares. Valeirano is one of the most important crus, with vines aged from 50 to 55 years. It has calcareous soil scattered with large stones, providing excellent drainage. Released three years post-harvest, the Barbaresco DOCG sees an intensive aging process, with up to 22 months in new French oak, then three months in stainless steel tanks and a further 12 months in the bottle. It gets no fining or filtering, and can be cellared for up to 30 years. Fermentation is a slow eight days in rotofermenters at a controlled temperature before malolactic conversation takes place in oak.
The 2016 Barbaresco Vigneto Valeirano is the most refined wine I have tasted from this site in Treiso. The tannins, always forbidding in Valeirano, are wonderfully polished, and yet convey the essential feeling of structure that is such a central part of what makes Barbaresco so compelling as a wine. Dark wild cherry, incense, graphite, spice and dried flowers add shades of dimension to this virile, potent Barbaresco that captures the essence of this site, but with an added touch of sophistication that is quite welcome. I can’t wait to see how the 2016 ages. In a word: Superb! 95+ points.Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media August 2019
Another wine of importance from La Spinetta, this is a well-structured and compact expression with lots of dark fruit and ripe berries buried within. The 2016 Barbaresco Valeirano Vürsù, sporting a fittingly hefty rhinoceros depicted on the front of the bottle, is heavier and denser than the others from this line. There are dry and astringent tannins, and like the pachyderm on the label, this wine will live to a ripe old age—if it isn’t poached from the cellar beforehand. 95+ points.Monica Larner, Wine Advocate June 2019
Dark peaches, glazed cherries, Christmas cake, orange peel and wet earth. Full-bodied and very structured on the palate, where chewy tannins carry dried red berries long and spicy. Drink from 2023. 94 points.James Suckling, jamessuckling.com April 2019
100% Nebbiolo from vines with an average age of 35 years, grown on a calcareous, south-facing slope at an elevation of 200m. Sustainably farmed, with no use of pesticides or herbicides. Alcoholic fermentation for 10 days in temperature controlled roto-fermenters followed by malolactic fermentation in 600-litre medium-toast French oak casks (50% new and 50% one-year-old), then aged for 20 months. Transferred to stainless steel for three months before bottling with no fining or filtration. – La Spinetta