Vietti - Castiglione 2014

We drink a bottle of Barolo Castiglione 2014 from the Vietti winery in Piedmont.

When dealing with wine from Italy, or perhaps just wine in general, it is inevitable that sooner or later the name Barolo will come up. The red wine from Piedmont, which is pressed entirely from Nebbiolo, is often enough simply synonymous with good, expensive red wine from Italy, which with its many tannins and at the same time decent portion of acidity should first disappear in the cellar for many years. 2014 was, if one works with the help of Google through various vintage reviews, not a particularly good year for Barolo in Piedmont. Rather cold and rather wet. But since, on the one hand, I have not been drinking wine for very long and, on the other hand, I have not accumulated large quantities of bottles in these price ranges on spec, you have to drink what you can get. And anyway, I have personally already had a lot of pleasure with quite a lot of wine from years without a particularly good reputation. Vietti has been making wine in Castiglione Falletto in Piedmont since 1873. However, in 2016 an investor bought out the winery and this year the Vietti family, handed over the management of the winery to that investor. Whether the look back to 2014 with this bottle, is then also a look ahead, will therefore have to show. The winery owns a large number of vineyards in various locations in the region and fills from it in the top single vineyard Barolos, which unfortunately are not in my budget range. The Castiglione is then something like the estate Barolo, into which the smaller sites and the grapes that are not used in the single vineyard fillings go. The grapes come from ten different municipalities and from over 20 different sites. At just over 50 euros for the current vintages, this is still not exactly what you would call a bargain, but it is still kind of affordable. The sites are vinified individually and then, after more than 30 months of aging in small and large wood, blended.

This is then already in the first moment after pouring one of these wines, in which you smell purely and are immediately pleased, how beautiful it actually is. This is super fine, ethereal, with a wonderful, berry fruit, with lilac and with cherry on the nose. This is fresh, this is spicy, this is earthy with a hint of vanilla out the back. This is enormously complex while being quite calm and balanced. There’s nothing loud, fractious or excited. There is tannin in the wine, of course, but it settles delicately on the tongue, remains there and is then washed away by the juiciness of a relatively tame acidity. What the Barolo organizes on the tongue is actually in no way inferior to the fragrance. And although you think there’s quite a bit going on, you get the feeling that with more air, even more flavor comes into the wine. The initially very gentle acidity becomes more powerful and develops more draw. And the tannin pulls along and also gets stronger and stronger without getting gruff. And it actually keeps getting better and better with more air.

The next day there is even more acidity and even more structure. Meanwhile, somewhere between mellow and pithy, with a trend towards even more, one thinks the wine is getting younger the longer it is exposed to the air. On the nose, the fruit has ripened, a bit sweeter and darker. It’s all even more concentrated than the first evening. The etherealness, the subtle note of menthol or eucalyptus, have remained. This is a meditation wine that certainly has a lot of time ahead of it. What I found exciting is that while the large Burgundy glass makes a lot of difference for the photo and drinking experience, I can spare myself the constant fear of breaking it because I actually find the aroma from our very normal glasses much nicer. There it seems even a tad denser, even a tad more together. And what I’m most excited about right now is how beautifully this drinks, despite all the complexity. It’s so pleasantly relaxed, and you’re also so pleasantly relaxed yourself and don’t have to sit in front of your glass with big thinking wrinkles.

The only problem that remains for me in the end is the futile effort to classify it. I can’t even say whether it tastes particularly typical of Barolo or not. Was this really a not so good year? Or simply luck with this bottle. That may be changed in the future, since there are quite a few other representatives in this price region. Only the time, you probably just have to have, as young as this bottle still seems. And then there is also the question in the room, how it would be not to drink the entry, but to reach further, or even at the top of the shelf. But I am perhaps just too much Swabian for that and anyway, the better is often the enemy of the good. And if I’m already so happy with this bottle here, why should I ruin it for myself?

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