We have been pondering this for a while – would we dishonor the late Teobaldo Cappellano’s wishes if we wrote about the winery or their wines here? This was up when we thought the 99 Barolo Pie Rupestris Otin Fiorin was the best wine bar none for sale in Norway in 2010. And then again last summer, when the best wine we had for any lunch or dinner on hour annual Piemonte visit was the 07 Langhe Nebbiolo. Should we? Could we? Well, as you are reading this it must mean that we finally decided we could. As we are not really reviewing wines here, just praising them, and their winemakers. And the wine that got the honor? Well, Cappellano’s 09 Dolcetto did the trick. At 123 Norwegian kroner, it makes a great case for being the cheapest high quality wine for sale up here in the snow.
Cappellano who, you might say. As wines are not reviewed, they are also seldom written about, and thus this icon sometimes goes unnoticed. Famously, Teobaldo Cappellano, the father of today’s proprietor of the estate, Augusto, did not think much of wine critic’s point scores – so little in fact that he humbly asked journalists not to review his wine with points (when you get your hands on one of the Cappellano bottles, read the label on the back). Except from a well known Norwegian sommelier and journalist, I do not know of any journalists to this day who has not honored his request. On the other side of the scale, Cappellano is, for the same reason, not included in, say, Gambero Rosso’s annual Vini d’Italia book, and thus readers of these publications only miss out on one of the greatest winemakers in Italy, and thus the world. A pity, really…..
The Cappellano estate is an historic one, dating back to 1870. Already in 1889, they won a Bronze medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889. For many, Cappellano’s fame is related to the Barolo Chinato, invented by Giuseppe Cappellano at the end of the last century. The spicy Chinato, made of Nebbiolo, tree bark, and herbs, is today a classic dessert wine, and the standard by which all others are measured.
Cappellano was one of the first in the Langhe to shed unnatural fertilizers and herbicides in the vineyards, and was early on in the search for tradition and terroir in their wines. Cappellano founded ViniVeri, a group to promote the preservation of nature, tradition and terroir, together with winemakers sharing his passion for this, at the time unfashionable, way of making wines.
Cappellano’s offers two Barolos to the world: the Gabutti (a vineyard in Serralunga) Pie Rupestris (vines planted on American rootstock), and the Pie Franco (vines planted on French rootstock) Michet (michet-clone vines). Hard to come by, but if you do, do not hesitate to buy. Every wine cellar should have some bottles with the trademark red color of Cappellano. And, they age notoriously well.
Cappellano also makes a Barbera and Dolcetto, and as with all the top winemakers in the Langhe – Altare, Roberto Conterno, Vietti, Cavallotto – they do not make any bad wines. Thus, their Dolcetto and Barbera are sure bets for a good wine experience.
This week’s wine of the week, is a fresh and fruity dolcetto, Dark berries and hint of spice on the nose, precise and elegant. Some earthy notes on the end, which is surprisingly long for a dolcetto. As good an everyday wine as there is, and it’s all natural, and thus, good for you!
Well deserved WOTW honors to the Cappellano estate.