Cantina del Pino

Notes from my visit on December 15, 2009.

I’ve tasted through most of these wines’ vintages over the past few years and what I can say in general about all of them, without a doubt, is that these are wines of consistent expressiveness, deliberateness, and distinction.  This tasting was my favorite yet.

Langhe Freisa 2008.  All stainless steel.  Sweet vanilla, strawberry, and mint bouquet. Dry but very fruity.  Never had a better Freisa than this one, this vintage.  I wish I could have fit one in my suitcase.  ★ ★ ☆

Dolcetto d’Alba 2008. All stainless steel.  Very fruity bouquet, dry but full. Also full of grip and a refreshing minerality.  2008 seems to harmoniously mix the fruitiness of 2006 with the finesse of 2007.  ★ ★

Barbera d’Alba 2007. 18mo ageing in large barrel.  Bright magenta color. Some discernable oak perfectly integrated with juicy cherry chocolate and a great structure.  My favorite CdP Barbera.  ★ ★ ☆

Langhe Nebbiolo 2007.  Shorter maceration than the Barbarescos, plus 6-8 mo of oak contact and more bottle age.  Smokey, sweet, juicy, clove bouquet.  Minty with mineral in the mid palette, floral and spicey finish.  ★ ★

Barbaresco 2006.  Neive & Barbaresco sources. 1 mo maceration on all Barbarescos.  Floral and smokey bouquet with light fruit characteristics.  Very well integrated.  ★ ☆

Ovello Barbaresco 2005.  Smoke and herbs with red fruits and spice in the bouquet.  Tight yet ripe balsamic notes giving way to lots of cherry fruit.  Amazing with food and will be even more amazing with time.  ★ ★

Albesani Barbaresco 2005.  Slightly more pink color than Ovello.  Younger vineyard ~15years old.  Tar and herbs with a dried red fruit bouquet. Leading to a more fresh and foresty mid-palate with a sprinkling of dried red fruit and excellent minerality, ending with aggressive fresh tannins.  Favoloso! ★ ★ ★

Here is a little background (taken from the Cantina del Pino website, other sources, and partly written by me):

La storia (the history)

The Ovello Vineyard is not only recognized as one of the premier growing sites of the entire region, it was one of the first estates to produce wine called Barbaresco starting in the late 1800s. Before 1894 Nebbiolo grapes were grown in Barbaresco and sold to Barolo producers.  In 1894 Domizio Cavazza, headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba created the first cooperative, “Cantine Sociali” by gathering together nine vineyard owners to make wine in the local castle that he owned.  He understood well the differences between Barbaresco terroir and Barolo.  The Cantine Sociale was closed in 1920 because of Fascist economic rules but was reopened in 1958 by the priest of the Barbaresco village, recognizing that the only way that the producers could survive was to combine efforts.  He gathered 19 growers, one of whom was Renato Vacca’s father.  As a fourth generation grower and wine maker, Renato decided in 1997 the time was right to stop working for others and start making wine under the family label of Cantina del Pino.


The younger wines like Dolcetto and Freisa have a short maceration time and are aged between 10 months and 1 year in stainless steel.  These vines are about 40-50 years old and are on the Ovello vineyard in the Barbaresco zone.  The Langhe Nebbiolo is sourced from younger vines from the Albesani, Gallina or Starderi vineyards and is aged for 10 months in large oak barrels after maceration.  The Barbera vines are about 40 years old and are also situated on the Ovello vineyard.  The Barbera sees about one year in large French oak barrels.
All fermentation is done in stainless steel temperature controlled containers for optimum management.  With our Barbarescos we use a 20 – 30 day maceration time.  The normale Barbaresco is aged for two years in oak (barrique) and one year in bottle.  The Ovello Cru Barbaresco is aged for both two years in oak and two years in bottle.   A longer bottle age is given to our Ovello Vineyard designated wines.  The Ovello vineyard is composed of clay and sandy soils and is situated perfectly in the hills right above the Tanaro River with South/Southwest exposure.  It sits 300 m above sea level with vines ranging from 35 – 70 years old.  The entire family – managed vineyard holdings include 7 hectares within the Barbaresco appellation.

4 thoughts on “Cantina del Pino

  1. Good! Totally try Albesani. Also Ovello 2007 if you can find it, is amazing. Most likely you can only find the Freisa directly from the winery. The Dolcetto and Barbera are always very reflective of the vintage and therefore always interesting to try. I have my favorites but I’m sure other people have theirs!

  2. I have never had Cantina del Pino wines, but it has been on my list for a while already. Reading your tasting notes urges me to add Cantina del Pino on my next visit to Piemonte as a no miss. I’m very intrigued to try try the Freisa and of course the Barbaresco Albesani.

  3. It’s been long enough since my very first trip to Piemonte in 2005 (that famed “hail” year) that now I am drinking the stuff that was sitting in the barrels at my “initiating” visits at my very first wineries. My first trip to Cantina del Pino was in the fall of 2006 and coincidentally my very favorite Cantina del Pino Dolcetto, until I tried the ’08, has been the 2006. It’s cool to think I walked by this wine in barrel during my first visit to Renato Vacca’s cellar. Little did I know I would:
    a. One year later be a wine buyer and put this exact wine: the 2006 Dolcetto on my wines-by-the-glass list, and
    b. Two years later be selling his wine for his California distributor.

    After my last trip to Piemonte I came home and bought up as much Cantina del Pino wines locally as I could find and afford. (Needless to say I no longer choose to hold either of the aforementioned jobs.)

    If I could, I would save the 2006 Dolcetto forever so I would know I could savor it at any point in the future, at my leisure. But I know that’s not the way wine works. The wine will not wait for me to be ready for it. I have to catch it when it is ready for me. So I chose to crack open my very last bottle of the 2006 Dolcetto very recently. (I would just hate to over-ripen or over-oxidize such a perfect wine… and I trust that future vintages of his Dolcetto will offer just as much…)

    The color: a ruby cranberry, slightly cloudy, not in any negative way but in an organic way (a very good way). The nose offers: vanilla frosting and fresh cranberries, perfectly wound with freshly cut limes and roses, plus a brush of campfire smoke. On the palate this wine is full and juicy with nutty tones, but evolving into a supple, pureed hazelnut tannin structure, finishing clean and refreshing. ★ ★ ☆

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