One Fine Bottle: The new Roero Roche d’Ampsej 2011
Today we are putting the spotlight on Roero, a sub-region that is sadly oft-overlooked in the hubbub around Piedmont. The sandy topsoil and generally warmer exposure in Roero aid the ripening of Nebbiolo to produce wines more immediately charming and seductive than its neighbour Barolo, yet in the right hands they have the requisite power and poise to age with the best of them. This is particularly true of the single vineyard Roche d’Ampsej, a steep south facing vineyard made up of 45 year old vines planted on light soils that produces wines of charm, composure and grip. 2011 is the new vintage, the wine having spent two years in barrel and two years in bottle prior to release. A recent vertical tasting of this wine, from 2011 to 2004 highlighted its capacity for graceful ageing and development.
This is the top Nebbiolo from Matteo Correggia, an estate that we have worked with for many years and whose Arneis, red Roero blend and Barberas are firm favourites for lovers of characterful, approachable and affordable examples of Piedmont. Now run by Ornella Correggia and her children, they remain guided by an intimate link to the soils and the vine, harvesting manually and with minimal intervention in the winery. Indeed, good terroir will always shine through and the finished wines here are seriously classy.
A quick word on 2011. After a very wet winter, useful for building up sufficient water reserves, a warm spring brought about quick and abundant fruit set, reminding some producers of the notorious 2003 vintage, yet luckily the temperature eased for the majority of June and July before a sweltering August had producers chattering all over Italy. Nebbiolo, a late ripening variety, benefited from a cooler September and a few refreshing showers that provided long enough ‘hang time’ to ripen fully and retain acidity. 2011 will go down as a warm, forward drinking vintage with heady, sweet fruit. Indeed, for drinking over the next five years the wines are positively delicious.