This important Langhe family dates back to 1880, their cantina is to be found in the town of Bra, but the family originates from the village of La Morra. Bra was very much a key hub in the movement of Barolo in the early years due to its train station built in 1874, linking Torino to Savona, via Bra & Cervere (before Alba built their’s). Indeed in those days there were c. ten Barolo producers/negociants in the town, of which only Cantine Ascheri Giacomo survives.
The cantina today is run by la Signora Cristina Ascheri, mother of Matteo who took over from his father Giacomo in 1988, & alongside is Giuliano Bedino the enologo since 1996 & Matteo’s son Giuseppe. They have 16ha of Nebbiolo da Barolo vineyards from across three communes/villages: La Morra, Verduno & Serralunga d’Alba. Incidentally, Matteo is currently the Presidente of the Consorzio of Barbaresco & Barolo growers.
Historically they have always made a traditional Barolo, blended from across the three villages of La Morra, Verduno & Serralunga d’Alba. From 1999 they started releasing the four single vineyard Baroli: Pisapola (Verduno), Sorano (Serralunga d’Alba), & ‘Coste e Bricco’ (Serralunga d’Alba) from 1999, with La Morra’s Ascheri – from where the family originally herald – from 2010. These single vineyard Barolos are only made in exceptional years – most recently in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, & then forecast to be in 2019.
Vinification is classical, employing BR97 locally-selected yeast, pumping over or submerged cap for up to 20 days, before ageing the wines ageing for circa 18 mths in largely botti grandi of between 10-20HL, plus a small percentage of French 500litre tonneaux. Since vintage 2010, the Barolos are closed using DIAM30. Total sulphur tends to be c. 75mg/litro at bottling.
Barolo Pisapola, Verduno
Barolo Ascheri, La Morra
Barolo Sorano, Serralunga d’Alba
Barolo ‘Coste e Bricco’, Serralunga d’Alba
2016 Barolo – tasted Nov & Dec’19. 14.76%, a very traditional blend of fruit from three Barolo villages: 10% Verduno, 40% Serralunga d’Alba & 50% La Morra…so building in natural complexity from the start! Vinified for 12 days, aged for up to 24 mths in 10-20HL botte, bottled later in Dec’19. There’s plenty of Verduno rose highights, Serralunga cranberry crunch & salinity, plus that La Morra fleshy & earthy, spicy, generosity! It’s a bit difficult to read, having just been bottled, but it seems complete & well-poised for development in bottle! Smartly attired in a new/old label that dates back to the post WWII years…
2016 Barolo Pisapola, Verduno – tasted Nov & Dec’19. 14.5%, a fabulous little 1.6ha vineyard, at c.340m asl, tucked up beneath the Verduno belvedere (look out), which in turn informs us that it faces East, so a fresh morning site, sheltered from the afternoon sun, & steeply perched on white marne sant’agata fossili, sand & gypsum (crystals). In vintage 2016, it was harvested on 4th October, with Giuliano Bedino, the resident enologo since 1996 (the year the vineyard was replanted), careful not to extract too much from the delicate Verduno, hence a modest 16- 18 days stainless-steel maceration, with remontaggio, followed by a measured 22mths of ageing…it’s Verduno personified with it’s tenuous, delightful pale red/pink colour, dried, kirsch rose petals, dreamy ethereal fruit, a pearl of intense red at its heart, a skeletal frame, crystalline glacier cherry, suave, fleshy, sapid, ‘charmante’, textural, undertstated, refreshingly light & self-effacing, griottes…drawing on the core Verdunese elements of light, water, & warmth, it’s a tight little rose bud for now. Bottled July’19, 3,5k bottles.
2016 Barolo Ascheri, La Morra – tasted Nov & Dec’19. 15.1%, by comparison, this 1.5ha West facing La Morra vineyard at c.330m asl, once home to the family itself, slopes gently down the Verduno back, in the direction of the river Tanaro. So it soaks up the afternoon warmth, & its roots lie in red clay & alluvial river soils. Vintage harvest took place a week later than Pisapola. The shape of Ascheri is completely different to that of Pisapola: squarer, fuller, earthier, more generous, Giuliano feels that it justifies a longer wood ageing, of 24/26 mths, including 20% in French tonneaux. Less perfumed, less rose petals, Ascheri is richer (15%) & more confident with Durone cherry, griotte spirity notes, almost a baked earth, more volume that fits the La Morra profile. More horizontal to Pisapola/Verduno’s verticality, it’s so almost succulent, a percentage of capello sommerso ensuring sublime fruit tannins. Quite decandent. Bottled July’19, 3k bottles
2016 Barolo Sorano, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted Nov & Dec’19. 14.5%, on the Serralunga ridge this vineyard sits in the lower section between neighbouring Carpegna & Costabella at 300m asl facing WN on talcum white & sand soils – it’s a cool site that normally call for a later harvest, gentle vinification, a longer submerged cap…soils not dissimilar in fact to those of Castiglione Falletto across the vallate. The Sorano borgata of Serralunga d’Alba is also renowned for its plantings of the Rosé sub-varietal of Nebbiolo, that make up c.20% of the fruit, thus lending a pale red & notably perfumed character. Indeed the vintage 2016 is beautifully crystal clear, an intense but light red garnet; the nose is noble, pretty too with lots of tight red cassis, crunchy, sapid fruit. It’s gorgeous, so poised & neat, finely balanced but agile; the tannins intricately woven into the wine, thanks to the submerged cap maceration. The word ‘leggiadro’/weightless springs to mind…Giuliano should be complimented his delicate handling of this precious fruit. Racy, rosey, it’s crystal clear, cologne-fresh & so exciting, so Serralunga!
2016 Barolo ‘Coste & Bricco’, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted Nov & Dec’19. 15%, his tiny plot/slip of vines sits on the bricco of Sorano, effectively on the border with Diano d’Alba. Consequently it soaks up both morning & afternoon sun, giving it a certain decadence & finissimi tannins! Giuliano doesn’t normally use a submerged cap for this wine, preferring the shorter but lighter pumping over approach for a lighter extraction, before ageing the wine for 28 mths in 50/50 botte/tonneaux…the vintage 2016 expression is full yet fine, quite hedonistic yet well-defined with rosehip, svelte tannins, sinewy but sublime. There’s more of a blood orange expression, along with a Charbonnel kirsch Serralunga rose note, plus a slight tonneaux creaminess…which renders the wine very easy on the eye, & sumptuous even so young. Bottled July’19, 3k bottles.