The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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Page 48 of 126

46  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 A n absolute pleasure of an evening: delicious northern Italian–focused cuisine, amazing wines from Piemonte and, even better, the company of one of the leaders in Barolo, Pietro Ratti, who happens to be quite charming. Upon being seated at Officine Brera in the Arts District of Los Angeles, we open the Renato Ratti Barbera—a fruit-forward, high-acid, low-tannin pleasure of a red variety. As Ratti jokes, "It's my white wine." I ask him about Arneis, the white variety produced in the Barolo region, and he smiles, "Giacosa takes the Arneis," a reference to winemaker Bruno Giacoso and a reminder that Barolo, even with its expansive reputation, is actually a pretty small place with growers and winemakers working together, just like everywhere else. We taste the Ratti Langhe Nebbiolo next, a wine historically made from declassified Barolo grapes. Ratti planted vineyards outside of the Barolo zone, in sandier soils, which soften tannins, to intentionally make a style of Nebbiolo to be enjoyed earlier and with different foods. "You can decide how to make Barbera, but Nebbiolo is about the place," lends Pietro. As the main courses approach the table, we move into the remarkable Renato Ratti Barolos: Marcenasco, Conca and Rocche dell'Annunziata—each stunning in its own right. The Marcenasco is floral and elegant with persistent but seamless tannins; Conca, a warmer site, offers riper fruit and more body with a minty tobacco; Rocche shows femininity with sturdy tannins and is the epitome of what I love about Barolo. Pietro's father, Renato Ratti's, first vintage was in 1965, and Pietro has been running it since 1988. Renato, after working in vermouth production in Brazil, moved back to Italy with a fresh perspective, viewing the region as no one else had before. He decided to map the region's vineyard sites. "It only took 40 years," grinned Pietro, who held the position of President of the Barolo Consortium from 2010–2013. Humility clearly a virtue of Pietro's, he is quick to show pride in the undertaking but also gives credit to his colleagues: "It's the soil; I don't do anything different than my friends." Modern versus traditional winemaking was the conversation for a long while in Barolo— no longer. It is much more about site, or cru, than anything else, and Ratti owns that transition, making a renowned region respected for what it should be: amazing vineyards, amazing aspect, an amazing grape—Nebbiolo. Renato Ratti wines are imported by LUX Wines. "The best part about Barolo is that the more you drink, the more you want to drink," lends Pietro Ratti, owner and winemaker of Renato Ratti. ITALY PHOTOS COURTESY OF RENATO RATTI Site-Specific in Barolo RENATO RATTI EMBRACES CRU AS PRINCIPAL IN PROMINENCE by Allyson Gorsuch The impressive Renato Ratti cellars overlooking the rolling hills of La Morra in Barolo, Piemonte, Italy. Renato Ratti 2012 Barolo Marcenasco.

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