Ca’ del Baio was our third visit in Barbaresco, on David Way’s recommendation. Based near Treiso in the Southern part of Barbaresco, this winery is owned by the Grasso family and is now mainly run by 3 sisters, Paola, Valentina and Federica who have gradually taken over from their parents.
What is particularly remarkable about Ca’ del Baio is that, within their 25Ha of vineyards, they own a large, 2.5Ha out of around 14Ha of the famous Asili cru near Barbaresco, that abuts Marchesi di Gresy’s Martinenga monopole.
Ca’ del Baio consider their wines in a pyramid of quality. As their estate’s mainstay, Asili is their jewel-in-the-crown, sitting atop their pyramid and sometimes made as a Riserva. A trio of other Barbaresco wines sits beneath that: cru Pora, cru Vallegrande and their new, multi-cru blend of Autinbej, launched with the difficult 2014 vintage.
At the base of their pyramid are their Langhe Nebbiolos which they see as being entry-level wines for learning to appreciate Nebbiolo – the grape which makes up 70% of their plantings and is the clear focus for the business. Nevertheless, as is usual, Barbera and Dolcetto reds are made, as is a Moscato d’Asti. Chardonnay and Riesling round-out their white portfolio.
When we visited, being taken through a tasting by Paola and Valentina, harvest was literally being completed – the harvest team came in with big smiles on their faces, to sit down for some well-earned glasses of wine, cheese and charcuterie. Given this event, for some reason I can’t explain – having too much fun I guess – we didn’t take any photos at all, so I’ve borrowed Ca’ del Baio’s own downloadable press image to enliven this profile a little bit.
With the harvest team came Roero winemaker, Carlo Deltetto of the eponymous estate, who is also Paola Grasso’s husband. That gave me a chance not only to taste his sparkling, Pinot Noir-Nebbiolo blend, Rosé Brut, but subsequently his fine boned, minerally, delicately-scented, single-vineyard San Michele Roero Arneis as he gave me a bottle to take away and taste.
I have since met Carlo a couple of times in London, with his importer, Liberty Wines, and tasted some of his other wines, including an interesting Favorita (Vermentino).
The below are presented in the order tasted, including the Deltetto Rosé Brut.
Ca’ del Baio Langhe Nebbiolo 2016 (15 / 20)
Made since 2008 and designed for consumption by the glass in trattorias, as an approachable Nebbiolo, aiming for freshness and less structure. Stainless steel fermentation, with 10-12 days total maceration time, including MLF. No oak. 14.5% ABV. €8 / bottle RRP in Italy.
A: Pale-medium ruby
N: Riper, slightly broad, fresh leather – traditional fermentation notes. Hint of orange peel and of bitter almond
P: Fresh, brisk acidity. Spice. Grippy, slightly rustic, firm tannins. Bitter, smoky twist to ripe fruit. Not so harmonious. Moderate length, with a touch of alcohol at the finish
Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Autinbej 2014 (16 / 20)
New cuvee from 2014, blending the young vines from 3 crus: Ferrere, Marcarini and Montersino.
A: Pale to pale-medium garnet
N: Bitter almond and hay. Orange peel. More savoury / complex. Broad, slightly toasty hint
P: Orange peel and crisp red fruit. Firm, sandy tannins. Crisp acid. Some flinty, schistous minerality. Medium-long finish
Ca’ del Baio Bric del Baio Langhe Nebbiolo 2015 (16 / 20)
Aim for more moderate prices than full Barbaresco, for intermediate consumers on their Nebbiolo journey. €10 / bottle RRP in Italy.
A: Pale ruby with some garnet glints
N: Fresh leather and a touch of smoke. Floral. Ripe orange peel and red cherry
P: Crisp acidity, slightly furry firm-to-high tannins. Ripe red & black cherry. Medium-long finish
Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Vallegrande 2014 (16 / 20)
Single cru. Planted 1970, 1999, 2001, 2011. West and South-west-facing.
A: Pale ruby-garnet
N: Fair intensity of aromatic orange peel and scented liquorice. Touch of earth. Finesse
P: Sweet red cherry and cranberry. Fairly intense flavour. Firm, slightly sandy tannins. Medium-long finish. Elegant, but needs some more mid-palate concentration
Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Asili 2014 (17+ / 20)
2.5Ha of the cru was inherited. Fruit was sold to the Produttori del Barbaresco until 1987. Since 1988 they have made and bottled the wine themselves. The Riserva is only made in the very best vintages, with 2011 the most recent. That was 15% whole bunch fermented with twice-daily punchdown, then a 35-day maceration with the cap submerged. Ageing was extensive – 3 years in old tonneaux then 1 year in ceramic barrels. This was, unfortunately, not available to taste though.
A: Pale ruby with garnet glints
N: Floral, aromatic, scented orange peel. Gentle spice
P: Fresh, flinty / smoky mineral and red cherry. Very supple, moderate tannins. Elegant and long
Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Pora 2013 (17++ / 20)
A: Pale garnet, with a hint of brick
N: Flinty, stony mineral. Balsamic. More reserved and mineral. Some perfumed, slightly baked wild strawberry
P: Firm, high, fine tannins. Dried cherry. Balsamic. Saline. Chewy. Crisp acidity keeps freshness. Warming. Long
Deltetto Brut Rosé NV (16 / 20)
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Nebbiolo. Press maceration after overnight cooling of grapes, giving 4 hours total skin contact. 48 months on lees. 7 g/L dosage.
A: Pale-medium salmon
N: Chalky tones to raspberry and ripe citrus. Gentle toasty lees. Flinty, savoury character
P: Fairly fine. Chalky texture to fragrant strawberry. Salty touch and some phenolics