When Ernesto Casetta speaks about his wines, you can easily get lost in his stories and the wealth of information that he provides. He has a lifetime of experiences where ups and downs in viticulture formed him into what he and his winery is now. He comes from generations of family with roots in Roero since 1725 where viticulture has always been a main activity. With an average annual production of 300,000 bottles, the first vintages in the early 1960s, then the very first export that went to Japan then succeeded by the US, and a wide range of wines, Ernesto has a lot to be look back on and see what an accomplishment the Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta has attained.
This hilly area has been declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We are in Roero, in the region of Piedmont, the northwest part of Italy. It’s known for its production of wines as well as its fruit production of Canale peaches and Madernassa pears. There’s the Tanaro River that divides it from the other important winemaking side, Langhe.
In the 40 hectares of land, Casetta has a number of vineyards scattered in the panoramic hills of Roero and Langhe areas, with altitudes ranging from 200 to 400 meters high.
Nebbiolo grapes are mainly cultivated for the production of the Barolo and Barbaresco. There are also Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Favorita, Cortese, Moscato, Chardonnay and a very little known grape variety, the Pelaverga.
The Rocche, with the friable, sandy and ochre coloured soil form a spectacular fragment of Roero.
The Roero is located on the left side of the of Tanaro river, in a hilly zone of steep slopes and cliffs. The Langa, a world of hills, is located on the right of Tanaro river. The soil is dominated by marls, limestone and clay sedimentary rocks of marine origin. This kind of soil, along with the climate, are the essential factors in producing the red wines of great structure, character and long aging.
The winery of Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta is located in the town of Vezza d’Alba, in the heart of Roero where the cellars are modernly-equipped for vinification. With the age-old tradition of winemaking in Ernesto’s family combined with the modern technology, the wines that come out from the winery are purely excellent.
Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta produces a total of nine classic red and white wines: Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Barbera d’Alba DOC, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Roero Arneis DOCG, Langhe Favorita DOC, Gavi DOCG and Moscato d’Asti DOCG. On top of the classic wines, there are seventeen labels, some of which are riservas of the Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. A couple of sparkling wines done in Metodo Classico, a rare wine of Piedmont using pure Pelaverga grapes and six more kinds of red and white wines with grapes of the area complete the big loop of Casetta’s production.
Among the wines produced by Casetta, I was able to try seven of them, six of which are important red wines while the single white wine is an 8-year old Roero Arneis which was one of the best aged Roero Arneis among the guided tasting of 10 years of Roero Arneis.
Mumplin Roero Arneis DOCG 2010 is made from specially selected Arneis grapes from the vineyards with soil characterized by Rocche which is friable, sandy and ochre-colored. During the aging, a part of the wine stayed in French oak barrels for 12 months while the rest remained in stainless steel tanks. Both parts were then combined for the remaining maturation which was completed in stainless steel tanks for another year. Because of its age, the deep straw yellow to almost golden yellow colored wine has a lightly dense structure. At the nose it has an interesting complexity of rich aromas of tropical fruits, honey, herbs, flowers and minerals. It was even more interesting as you in the palate as it opens up to a lot of flavors that correspond to the nose. It has a very long finish with the freshness of the wine still lingering in the mouth.
Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore 2011 is made with Barbera grapes. Fermented in stainless steel then aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 2 years. The wine has a deep ruby red to garnet color with a complexity of varied aromas of mature dark stone fruits like plums and cherries, and spices. The mouth has a good sapidity, soft tannins and good acidity.
Barbera d’Alba Barilin DOC 2006 is a high quality wine with limited production. It’s made from specially selected Barbera grapes that come from old vines with limited harvest. It has won the Gold Medal in the 2016 Concours Mondial Bruxelles. The grapes are cultivated from the vineyards that are 200 – 300 meters high with soil characterized by Rocche which is friable, sandy and ochre-colored. During the aging, a part of the wine stayed in French oak barrique for around 18 months while the rest remained in large Slavonian oak barrels for 18 months. The two parts are then blended to complete the maturation in wood for at least 12 months and another aging in the bottle for about 12 months. The wine has a deep ruby red to garnet color with a complexity of varied aromas of mature to confeture of dark stone fruits like plums and cherries, spices, vanilla, chocolate, coffee and toasted aromas.
Langhe Rosso L’ Me Vin 2009 is a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes that are cultivated in the vineyards that are 200 – 300 meters high with sandy soil composition. This is a traditional family wine “recipe”. The fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats and aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 24 months and another 6 months in the bottle. The wine has a deep ruby red to garnet color with a complexity of varied aromas of mature to confeture of dark stone fruits like plums and cherries, spices, and hints of vanilla. Smooth, warm, soft tannins, good acidity and long persistence in the mouth.
Barbaresco Vigna Magallo DOCG 2006 is made with Nebbiolo grapes cultivated in a hillside of 300 to 400 meters high with soil of limestone and marl composition. After the fermentation in stainless steel, the wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years and another year in the bottles. Garnet red in color with a complex nose of mature dark stone fruits as well as confeture, spices and herbs. Smooth, warm, soft tannins, good acidity and long persistence in the mouth with hints of herbs as an aftertaste.
Barolo Case Nere DOCG 2010 is made with Nebbiolo grapes from Case Nere, a single estate vineyard in La Morra village, known for its elegant and excellent wines. After the fermentation in stainless steel, the wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years and another year in the bottles. Garnet red in color with a complex nose of mature dark stone fruits as well as confeture, spices and herbs. Smooth, warm, soft tannins, good acidity and long persistence in the mouth with hints of herbs as an aftertaste. Intense garnet red in color with an ample complexity of dried flowers, mature red stone fruits, plum confeture, spices, vanilla, tobacco leaves and leather. On the palate it equilibrates with the nose with a persistent finish.
Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2004 is produced only in the best vintages from Nebbiolo grapes grown in the estate vineyards with soil of limestone and marl composition, where they receive the best conditions to give the maximum concentration of the grapes. After the fermentation in stainless steel, the wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 4 years and another year in the bottles. There is no filtering and no fining prior to bottling. Garnet red in color with a complex nose of mature dark stone fruits as well as confeture, spices and herbs. Elegant, soft tannins, and long persistence in the mouth.