This Barbaresco is 100% Nebbiolo and comes from a (still) family-owned Piedmonte winery established in 1913. The Rabaja vineyard is close to the central village of Barbaresco and the famous River Tanaro runs below the property and moderates the vineyard’s climate.
Today Cascina Luisin (Luisin means ‘Luigi’ in Piedmontese) is run by Luigi Minuto (the founder’s grandson) and his son Roberto, who joined in 1995. It was Roberto’s decision after experimenting in 1995 to ferment and macerate the Nebbiolo in cement tanks (20 days for this one) followed by time in Slovenian oak.
The wine is an opaque garnet with and was a little turbid. We were surprised it was still this deeply coloured despite being 18 years old – and even more surprised there was no bricking. The nose is beautifully intense with aromas of blackcurrant, raspberry and crushed tomato vine with mint, rose, anise and minerals.
The dry palate has solid medium plus acidity and silky tannins that still have some grip in them yet. The body is elegantly slender and while initially it tasted of mint, over the evening it grew to show deeper herbs with violets and blackcurrant. There is red fruit in the background, but over a few hours it opened to intense pencil shavings, iron and iodine, high citrus notes and anise. The finish was super long.
We wondered if this wine may be unfined and unfiltered as it’s cloudy and in fact, I was able to piece together some information on various sites to show that Roberto did make the decision to stop fining and filtering their Barbarescos back in 1996.
Despite its age, this wine offers a powerful impression – muscular, deep and complex, yet delicate, open and fragrant. It’s WSET Outstanding wine; a testament to the long life of the Nebbiolo grape, drink now or hold until 2020’ish. One of our tasting crew thought it may hold for another 10 years, but the rest of us disagreed; it’s certainly not showing its age, but it is unlikely to improve in the bottle.
We all voted that Costa should buy some more and we’ll taste it again in 5 and then 10 years to know for sure. All in the name of science, of course.