A little gem of a Roero producer, young Alberto Oggero owns 4.20ha in the comune of Santo Stefano Roero, centred round three MGA, single vineyards in the ‘Valle dei Lunghi’: Le Coste, Anime & SS Trinità. Production is focused on old vine Roero Nebbiolo & Roero Arneis.
Alberto’s grandfathers, Sandro & Tommaso, tended in total 2ha of Nebbiolo, while his parents chose to work in Ferrero & administration. With Sandro’s passing in 1999, Alberto, fresh out of Alba’s wine school Umberto 1, chose to dedicate himself to the vine, thanks in grande parte to a grandfather (Sandro d’Pindeta) who often took his nepote on tours of the vineyards, on the back of a tractor. But it wasn’t until 2009, after ten years of experimenting, that Alberto bottled his first wine: 500 bottles of Roero Arneis! His first Roero Nebbiolo wasn’t released until vintage 2011.
In his small, but beautifully vaulted cantina in the village of Santo Stefano Roero, Alberto uses a combination of cement, stainless-steel, tonneaux & botte grande, & wild yeast.
The Roero Arneis (from vintage 2018 ‘Roero Bianco’) comes from 3 vineyards: the clay rich vineyard of SS Trinità towards Canale, the sandy cay of Santo Stefano’s Le Coste, & the sandy soils of Monteu’s San Michele. And from nearby is also the source of his Vino Rosso ‘Sandro d’Pindeta’, on sandier soils. The fruit for the Roero DOCG is harvested from the high, & steep silty sandy soils of Le Coste, while the Roero Riserva is from the 80yo, steep, calc sandy Anime vineyard above his cantina. Certified organic.
Alberto captures the soft, pure, as well as deep-rooted old vine expression of Nebbiolo from Santo Stefano Roero.
In 2020, smart new labels, & Roero Arneis becomes Roero Bianco, focusing more on the territorio than the grape! He’s also planning to add another wing to his cantina & so create some more space….
Vino Rosso ‘Sandro d’Pindeta’
Roero Rosso Riserva
2018 Roero Bianco – 13.5%, circa 7k bottled in Aug’19, this 100% Roero Arneis has now been labelled from this vintage onwards by Alberto as ‘Roero Bianco’ because it’s a wine that speaks more of the territorio than the fruit. This is in part due to the vinification, part stainless-steel, part botte grande, 3 days on the skin, 100% malolactic fatto, the fruit from three vineyards & three villages: Le Coste (Santo Stefano), SS Trinita (Canale), & San Michele (Monteu). In keeping with the vintage (2018), it’s brighter, crunchier, with currant, comice pear, peach, fresh detail & also depth, the nose completed by some lime/orange notes; to taste, it’s complete, with a lovely core, the delicious bright & fine stone fruit coiled, ready to/for spring. Alberto’s approach brings out the essence of the Roero’s sedimentary, marine sand soils! What’s more, the wine is not fined or filtered prior to bottling (with total sulphur at 45mg/litro).
2017 Roero Arneis – 13%, bottled Aug’18, circa 8k bottles, from the cooler, clay rich soils of the SS Trinità vineyard that lies at the end of the Valle Lunghe, closest to the border with Canale. Using a combination of stainless-steel & botte grande, in 2017 he chose a 80%/20% blend. Unlike other producers of Roero Arneis, Alberto actively encourages the wine to undergo malolactic fermentation/transformation, to complete the wine. A bright lemon yellow, the nose is refined, relaxed yet purposeful, with distinct, beautifully defined citrus aromas, & a hint of flint. The palate is similarly elegant, tightly woven, restrained, detailed, with agrumato, lemony aromas & a sapid structure, & complexity that recalls more Chardonnay (Chablis?) wine than your typical Roero Arneis.
2018 Vino Rosso ‘Sandro d’Pindeta’ – 14%, 4.5k bottled with a DIAM2 in Aug’19, 100% Nebbiolo from Alberto’s 20yo San Michele vineyard, 66% rich in sabbia marina, 34% silt & clay, that actually lies in Monteu-Roero. He refers to this wine as ‘modesto’, a wine for everyday, sicuro. Fermented in cement for 5 days on the skins, there’s a lovely warm peach skin red glow to this wine, very much a sign of San Stefano Nebbioli! Indeed there’s a ring of peach sciropo, & arancia/mandarino on the nose, too; very clean & bright, expressive of the territorio. To taste, it’s gorgeously juicy but also fine, so soft & gentle, yet with ‘grinta'(grip!) So puro & piacevole! Total sulphur 30mg/litro at bottling.
2017 Vino Rosso ‘Sandro d’Pindeta’ – 14%, 100% Nebbiolo, circa 6k bottles, first vintage was in 2011, named after Alberto’s grandfather, from Santo Stefano Roero soils with circa 66% sand, & the rest calc clay, fermented in cement, on the skins for only 5 days to capture the rose & peachy essence of Santo Stefano Nebbiolo! Very pretty, carino, translucent pinky red, soffice, spremuta purity & delightfulness! Helped by a sunny, engaging vintage. Da bere!…tasted again May 2019 – only 5days maceration, affinamento cement only, bottled early May. Soft red fruit, peachy and fragrant. Alberto’s aim is to bring the Arneis and the Sandro closer together – for the Arneis to be a little more serious, and the Nebbiolo to be a little less serious….!
2017 Roero DOCG – 14.%, 2.2k bottled June’19, from Alberto’s fabulously situated Le Coste vineyard in the comune of Santo Stefano, looking plum south towards Vezza, on a grey sandy clay soil, the fruit from his 30 yo vines was fermented in cement for 25 days, with pumping over + 50% capello sommerso, then aged in 500litro French tonneau for 14 mths. Brighter more intense red, the nose shows sharper focus than the Sandro d’Pindeta, more grip & a cooler presence thanks perhaps to the higher percentage of clay in the soil. Reflecting the vintage, it’s strawberry-delicious, yet taut, coiled, while at the same time being delicate, gioioso/joyful, & straw ripple creamy too on the finish. Needs time in bottle, but showing promise.
2016 Roero DOCG – 14.5%, 100% Nebbiolo, circa 20 days on the skins, both submerged & floating cap, aged in 500L tonneaux, not fined or filtered, only circa 2k bottles available, sealed with DIAM10, from Santo Stefano Roero’s high, steep Le Coste vineyard that looks across at Vezza d’Alba to the south, on white sandy/silty + clay. Compared to the warm strawberry flesh of the 2015, the 2016 has more vim & energy! Bright indeed, lower pH, distinct licorice, spezia/spicy, balsam oil dimension to the fine, soft, but mentholated fruit. Exciting…tasted again May 2019 – available from June 2019. Stainless steel only, then tonneaux for 14 months. Quite a balanced vintage. Lots of gorgeous red fruit, crushed rose petal, very fresh, precise and yet expansive, lightness of touch, lots of matter, more complex than the 2017.
2016 Roero Riserva DOCG – 14.5%+, understandably a tiny production from Alberto’s eye-wateringly steep, high & 90yo Anime vineyard that perches impossibly above the cantina, literally, on a block of sedimentary marine sandstone, calc & clay, also vinified for 25 days on the skins in cement & then tonneau, but this wine was bottled in June’18, to give it more time in bottle prior to release. Fuller, richer, more complex than the 2017 Le Coste, it’s broader in shape, more balsamic & hedonistic, mentholated, the palate exudes super-ripe fruit, along with spicy curry plant notes, it glides, packed with sfumatura/nuance, fragrance & freshness. An extraordinarily rich, sultry wine & experience!
2015 Roero Riserva DOCG – 14.5%, 100% Nebbiolo, from the impossibly steep, natural amphitheatre that is the Anime vineyard high above Alberto’s house & cantina, planted in the 1940s on a white, sandy clay soil, facing SW, hence naturally low yields of 23hl/ha…vinified on skins for 25 days in cement, followed by further ageing in small, reconditioned cement tanks. Compared to the 2015 Roero, brighter, with a more floral, less fruit, rosa canina/hip lifted perfume; the palate is more fruttato, with notable (2015) strawberry & talc notes, with a beautiful sapid tail.