A Merlot to savour from Roberto Voerzio
Roberto Voerzio is rightly famous for his magnificent Barolos – some of the most sought after in the world of wine for the sheer concentration of flavours that he produces from his heavily pruned vines. The average yield per plant is around 500grams of fruit whilst his neighbour’s vines could be yielding at least six times that. Over the years he has learned how not to over extract his wines which can now be considered some of the most balanced of efforts – provided, of course, you resist the temptation to drink them too young. With already a legal limit of four years before Barolos can be sold anyway, it’s still but a small start toward optimum drinkability.
But this blog isn’t about his Barolos. Since 2001 he has been producing around 350 cases a year of an extraordinary Merlot from the Fontanezza and Pissotta vineyards in La Morra. I have been in the fortunate position of having drunk this wine from three of the vintages he has produced and yesterday I finished my third of the 6 precious bottles I had acquired of his 2005 wine. Of course, there is no legal time limit for the selling of this wine, but the Merlot, after having been fermented in stainless steel, and then spending 15 months in 30% new and 70% used barriques, spent a further 5 months in stainless steel tanks again and 24 months in bottle before he released the wine for sale. That’s almost four years in my book! He husbands the vines in pretty much the same way as he does for his Nebbiolos and Barberas – no chemical fertilizers, weed killers or fungicides are used which can interfere with the vegetation cycle of the vines or the ripening of the grapes. His absolute USP is his customary thinning out of around 50% of the grapes in mid-July with a further thinning out taking place in mid-August where the size of each cluster is reduced by cutting off the bottom section and leaving just the more concentrated upper sections on the vine. Indeed, I have visited his vineyard in September where there seemed to have been more grapes on the ground than on the vine!
Such attention to detail can only be achieved by costly effort and of course does merit a price which is somewhat similar to the price of his Barolos. However its quality can only be measured perhaps against some of the best examples from Bordeaux’s right bank. Certainly, in my book, at around the same price as Clos Fourtet or Ch. Larcis Ducasse for that vintage, it can definitely hold its own for price/quality ratio. It’s certainly up with the likes of Vieux Château Certain or Troplong Mondot where you will pay up to 20% more. As stated above, there’s not much of it although one UK merchant is offering the 2007 vintage at £80 a bottle in Bond, but the 2005 should be more expensive – if you can find it.
Tasting notes? I don’t wasn’t to bore you with comparisons with every other fruit except grapes, but three hours after I finished the last drop in the bottle I can still feel the wine tingling the back of my palate – now that’s what I call some length on the finish!
You can read more about Roberto Voerzio on page 273 of Wine Behind The Label.