The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Judging a Voerzio Barolo by Its Label

Posted on | August 6, 2015 | Written by Emery Long | No Comments

Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo label 2x1.5I began at Italian Wine Merchants in the New York City showroom, learning about the thousands of rare producers and admiring the racks and stacks of bottles. I have an extreme appreciation for aesthetics, color, and design. To be truthful, when I fell in love with wine, I first fell in love with the labels. Each label is unique and serves as a way for the winemaker to evoke their style to a picture on a bottle, and flavor and art together imprint a memory for the drinker.

The first label to catch my eye that I can taste as I close my eyes as I type: Roberto Veorizo in Piemonte, Italy. An incredibly exclusive and even rogue producer, Voerzio makes some of the most terroir-imbued, concentrated, and personality-rich Nebbiolo, Barebera, Merlot, and Dolcetto wines. Roberto inherited his vineyard from his father, who began production in the 1950s, and although Azienda Agricola Roberto Voerzio was only formally founded in in 1986, this La Morra estate has vineyards stretching from La Morra to Barolo, deep in the heart of Piemonte.

unnamedThis winery’s labels feature whimsical farmers painted in pastel colors, which suits Roberto Veorzio, who sees winemakers as stewards to the land. Each style of wine has a label with themes that hint at the flavors the wine possesses. The Barolo 2006 Riserva Vecchie Viti dei Capalot e delle Bruante, deriving from old vine Nebbiolo from the Capalot and Brunate vineyards, features a farmer holding a hoe and mug, resting against a vine trellis in the orange afternoon sun setting against the rolling hills of vines and a castle on a hill. The label relates to the intensity of work that in the vineyard in the setting sun, and giving recognition to the farmer, and it represents the rustic, brooding style of this Barolo; it’s dark, rich, and densely concentrated.

The Barbera d’Alba 2007 Vigneti Cerreto label features a lady wearing clogs and a headscarf, leading a cow through a vineyard with a farmer working the plow pulled by the cow. This label heralds to Barbera’s elegant style that’s accompanied by strong and energetic backbone. It also gives appreciation to the husband-and-wife team producing this cult wine.

Roberto Voerzio Dolcetto d'Alba label 2x1.5Voerzio’s almost obsessive viticulture techniques follow a strict low-yield management, with each vine trained to only produce 750 grams of fruit (about the size of two normal sized bags of grapes from your local supermarket) harvested by hand on vineyards with sparsely planted and chemical-free vines. Managing fewer vines and even fewer grapes, Veorzio commands the ability to focus on each cluster to produce superior fruit and decrease yield loss. Letting his excellent grapes take the spotlight, Roberto treats each wine with respect; there’s no manipulation through chemicals or winemaking techniques. In recent years all of Roberto Veorzio’s wines have been aged in barrique, with production number hovering around 450 cases a year total.

Behind these bespoke labels show the life’s work of a passionate wine producer, so it’s only right that the bottle reflect its contents. Thoughtful, evocative, and singular, these beautiful labels would complete any devout Piemonte wine drinker’s collection—but so do the wines, which are extraordinary works of art themselves.

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