The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Renato Ratti and Rocche dei Manzoni

Posted on | September 8, 2015 | Written by Michael Adler | No Comments

Michael Adler 5.29.15Today I want to discuss two single-vineyard Barolos from two of the region’s most forward-thinking producers, Renato Ratti and Rocche dei Manzoni.

A modernist and trendsetter in Barolo, Renato Ratti played an integral role in the formation and definition of the Barolo DOCG, as well as creating a structural framework for the region’s vineyards based on Burgundy’s classification system. Simply put, the man is a Barolo icon whose towering legacy will stretch decades if not centuries into the future. The wine I’m suggesting today, Ratti’s 2008 Barolo Marcenasco, derives from a single-vineyard plot of the same name that was actually the first piece of land bought by the estate back in 1965. The site is located on a steep hill with prime exposure in La Morra, in the north of the Barolo zone, where the wines tend to be a bit more elegant than their southern counterparts and are both expressive and approachable.

Rocche dei Manzoni, on the other hand, is located in the southern part of Barolo in Monforte D’Alba, which is stylistically on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Barolos of La Morra. While La Morra is known for softer, more elegant Barolo bottlings, the vineyards of Monforte D’Alba yield intense, powerful and concentrated wines that often can age for a very long time. Rocche dei Manzoni was among the first Barolo producers to promote crus over the traditional Barolo method of blending among vineyards. Rocche dei Manzoni believed that individual vineyard sites offer unique, wonderful characteristics whose subtlety can be lost in the blending process. Additionally, the estate was one of the first to employ barrique aging in its Barolo production.

These two estates have both had a significant impact on the history and development of Barolo, and their wines belong in the cellar of every Barolo enthusiast.

Renato Ratti 2008 Barolo Marcenasco $47.99

It’s difficult to find a quality Barolo that’s less than $50, but this ‘08 cru Barolo from Renato Ratti delivers the goods for a song. Gorgeous aromas of rose petals, bright red fruits, herbs and earth characterize the nose and palate, while firm yet silky tannins provide excellent structure. This single-vineyard Barolo is drinking beautifully now but will reward another 5-7 years of cellaring. Serve it with mushroom risotto, osso bucco or aged cheeses and experience a piece of Barolo history for less than $50!

Rocche dei Manzoni 2010 Barolo Vigna d’la Roul 1.5L $179.99

This 2010 Barolo Vigna d’la Roul, presented in magnum with very limited stock, is a gem in any Barolo-lover’s collection. The benefit of cellaring a wine in a large-format bottle is the lower ratio of air to juice in the bottle, which means that the wine will evolve at a much slower rate and have a longer life (and drinking window) ahead of it. 2010 was an absolute rock star of a vintage in Barolo; the wines are incredibly powerful and age-worthy, and this magnum of Vigna d’la Roul is no exception. An amazing representation of Rocche dei Manzoni’s signature cru, the ‘10 Vigna d’la Roul offers gorgeous aromas of black fruits, roses and tar, with woody notes and herbs joining in on the mid-palate. A massive wine with assertive tannins that are a bit austere in its youth, the ‘10 Vigna d’la Roul will age gracefully for two or more decades.

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