Private Piedmont Cellar: Ceretto and Pio Cesare

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I thought it made sense to combine this fine stash of vintages from Pio Cesare and Ceretto: they are both large historic firms, resolutely traditional (until they weren’t, but that mostly happened after 1990), and they made excellent wine back in the day. Furthermore they are unfashionable - that may well change in coming years, but for now the old vintages are still very fairly priced for their high quality.

Map of Pio Cesare's Barolo vineyards, 2020                                                                                                            

 

The Ornato vineyard is Pio Cesare’s largest and most important holding, and it was the source of the majority of the fruit for their classic Barolo – a blend of their various vineyards and some purchased fruit; a single-vineyard Ornato was first bottled in 1985. Ornato is a prime spot, bordering on Giacosa's Falletto; like Falletto, Ornato is very steep; it's even more south-facing - prime Nebbiolo land.

Pio Cesare's Barbaresco is mosty from 4 vineyards in Treiso, with a small part from San Rocco Seno d'Elvio. Since the vinifications of the Barolo and Barbaresco were virtually identical, it would be very interesting to taste one of each from the same vintage.

 

 

By contrast Ceretto was quite early to release their first single-vineyard wines (Barbaresco Montefico, and Barolo Brunate) in 1967. Some additional explanation of the Ceretto labels in this offer: Zonchetta used to be identified as a sub-section of Brunate but is now a stand-alone official vineyard which borders the north side of Brunate. Zonchera is a proprietary name for Ceretto’s multi-vineyard Barolo. Grignore is the highest part of Gabutti, bordering on Parafada – the grapes are now used in the classic Barolo; Ceretto must have a long lease on the vines, which appear on Masnaghetti's maps as being in private ownership. “Vigneto Pittatore in Cannubi” was only made in 1970 and 1971 - I assume that this refers to the Pittatore family of Barolo, who sold their Cannubi vines to Michele Chiarlo in the late 1980s. If my assumption is correct, this is an unusual mention of the landowner on the label, but in any case it’s a reminder of the very common practice of a larger producer making wine from purchased fruit (or from fruit grown in a vineyard that's been leased - see Grignore).

 

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We think that the pre-1990 Ceretto wines are due more respect. After years of tasting and drinking many old bottles of Ceretto, they have consistently demonstrated their high quality, the terroir-transparent nature of the different bottlings, and the classic character of the wines. Jamie Wolff

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Ceretto 1974 Barolo Grignore

"Name utilized up through the 2001 vintage by the Ceretto winery for a single-vineyard Barolo produced from the grapes of the Gabutti MGA. It refers to a parcel situated in the highest part of the cru, bordering on Parafada. The grapes are currently used in the blend of the regular Barolo of the house." (from "Barolo MGA" by Alessandro Masnaghetti)

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