La Morra, Piedmont
Roberto Voerzio’s Barolos are some of the richest, deepest and most texturally beautiful wines readers will come across.
Roberto Voerzio had a clear idea of the wines he wanted to make from the outset, but he got a later start than most of his contemporaries because he spent the first years of his career working alongside his brother Gianni before striking out on his own in 1987. Over the years, Roberto acquired parcels in La Morra’s finest sites, giving him a collection of grand cru vineyards matched by few growers.
Despite all of his success, Voerzio remains an essentially simple, down to earth person with a continuous drive to improve that is rare, even in Piedmont. Today Voerzio makes as many as seven single-vineyard Barolos. Voerzio’s fanaticism informs all aspects of production, and he only bottles his wines when he is completely happy with them, so it is the rare vintage when all seven Barolos are released. A luxury Barbera from the Pozzo vineyard in the Annunziata district of La Morra made with the same rigorous low yields as the Barolos and a more affordable set of wines including a Dolcetto, Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo round out the range. Though often lumped in with the modern school in Barolo, Voerzio takes his greatest inspiration from the masters of the traditional school, including Bruno Giacosa, Giovanni Conterno and Beppe Rinaldi, all men he still speaks about with the highest respect and admiration.
Voerzio is best known for fanatically low yields, which clearly inform his Barolos and is a major reason his early vintages remain fresh and intact to this day, a quality shared by many of his wines from lesser vintages as well. Twenty years ago the idea of green harvesting was still radical in Piedmont, a poor, agrarian region where cutting off bunches of grapes was seen as the equivalent of throwing money away. Voerzio was convinced otherwise and followed his instincts by pursuing a radical approach to low yields. Voerzio cuts entire bunches off his plants, to the point the rows between his vineyards are literally strewn with fruit. Bunches that remain are meticulously trimmed, particularly towards the bottom and the sides of the bunch, where the harsher tannins are believed to lie. The typical triangular Nebbiolo bunch is transformed into a small, roundish shape, and yields are brought down to level previously never seen in Piedmont.
Roberto Voerzio, a Monument to Individuality
(by Burt Anderson)
When Roberto Voerzio founded his own winery at La Morra in 1986, the winemakers of Barolo were engaged in what was often depicted as a conflict between traditionalists and progressives, advocates of the old school and the new. But Roberto, raised in a family of vignaioli, was too busy with his vines and wines to takes sides, following instead his sense of individuality to employ practices and techniques that drew from the best of both schools.
Roberto has been going his own way since, gradually acquiring plots for Barolo, Barbera and Dolcetto on steep slopes of the Langhe hills and cultivating them with the rigorous respect for nature that defines his concept of winemaking. His 20 hectares of vineyards include sites that were long noted for outstanding Barolo, such as Brunate and Cerequio, plus a number of lesser known plots that he’s personally elevated to levels that on the other side of the Alps would be recognized as grands crus.
As Roberto puts it, there are no secrets to his success, no magic touches, just hard work and perseverance in cultivating vines with a resolve that might be considered fanatical were it not for his perennially youthful humor and easygoing manner. In vineyards for Barolo, at a density of 6,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare, Roberto harvests 500 to 700 grams of grapes per vine, among the lowest yields anywhere, for wines of extraordinary stature and personality.
Vineyards are tended without the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides or other products that interfere with the normal vegetative cycle. He ferments his wines with natural yeasts and, after spontaneous malolactic fermentation, matures them in oak barrels before being bottled without filtering. Yet Roberto refuses to label his wines as biological or biodynamic, pointing out, in his wry way, that all honest producers ought to respect nature without making an issue of it.
Voerzio has built the reputations for Barolo from La Serra, Sarmassa and Rocche dell’Annunziata Torriglione, while adding luster to Cerequio and Brunate. His Barolo Riserva Vecchie Viti dei Capalot e delle Brunate is bottled only in magnums and released ten years after the harvest-as are selections of other Barolos from top vintages.
Roberto also produces fine Dolcetto d’Alba Priavino and Barbera d’Alba Cerreto. But perhaps the wine he most likes to drink is Barbera Vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata. He bottles it in magnums priced like top Barolos, because, he admits, “I’m in no rush to sell it. To tell the truth, I’m hoping that for once I’ll have a few bottles left to enjoy in my old age.”
Each of Voerzio’s wines carries a distinct label illustrated with cartoon-like caricatures of people in vineyards in vivid pastels that seem to mock the conventional sobriety of so many wine labels. Hallmarks of the individuality that sets Roberto Voerzio so spiritedly apart from his peers.
Wines Roberto Voerzio
|Wine Barolo Docg La Serra (rare)||Region Piedmont||Vintage 1984||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 600.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS - Avail 1||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Fossati Case Nere Riserva||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2003||Unit owc 3ltx1||Price/unit 2100.00€|
|Tipe Red WA 95 WS - Avail 1||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Riserva Fossati Case Nere||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2004||Unit 0.75lt||Price/unit 275.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS - Avail 1||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Riserva vecchie Viti dei Capalot e dell||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2009||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 390.00€|
|Tipe Red WA 96+ WS - Avail 3||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Sarmassa||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2009||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 350.00€|
|Tipe Red WA 95 WS 91 Avail 3||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Torriglione||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2010||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 375.00€|
|Tipe Red WA 96 WS 94 Avail 2||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg La Serra||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2011||Unit 0.75lt||
|Tipe Red WA - WS 92 Avail 7||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Rocche dell'Annunziata||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2011||Unit 0.75lt||Price/unit 215.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS 92 Avail 4||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Sarmassa||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2011||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 380.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS 92 Avail 3||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Torriglione||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2011||Unit 1.5lt||Price/unit 415.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS - Avail 6||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Cerequio||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2012||Unit 0.75lt||Price/unit 220.00€|
|Tipe Red WA - WS - Avail 8||INFO BUY|
|Wine Barolo Docg Rocche dell'Annunziata||Region Piedmont||Vintage 2012||Unit 0.75lt||
|Tipe Red WA - WS - Avail 5||INFO BUY|