Man that first “official” In Pursuit of Winefulness tasting note was tough. I need a vacation…
At least I was able to find three wine candidates at the local liquor store (Shell Liquors in Long Beach Island – surprisingly good selection) that fit my current Barolo theme to keep up the momentum.
I started with the 2008 Ceretto Zonchera. Tasting occurred over the first two nights of the vacation.
The Ceretto family has long been an established wine producer, not only in Barolo and Barbaresco, but throughout Piemonte. Three generations of Ceretto’s have endeavored to transform grapes into something more meaningful. Bruno and Marcello Ceretto sought to highlight various vineyard plots and how they resulted in distinct wines, and as such they began producing single-vineyard bottlings. Modern advances began to be incorporated over time, although current winemaker Alessandro Ceretto has recently implemented a return to more traditional methods.
The Zonchera bottling is produced from grapes from the Zonchera (or Zonchetta) vineyard in Barolo, just south of La Morra. The 2008 vintage was fermented in stainless steel for 14-15 days, and maceration took place over 15-25 days. The wine then matured for 12 months in French barrique, followed by an additional 12 months in larger barrels, before completing its maturation in the bottle.
The first night was a pop & pour, with no cellaring since I purchased the wine that afternoon. The day was fairly stressful (there is nothing quite like packing up 3 kids in a car only to have your sunroof shatter less than 30 minutes into the drive…thankfully we found a solution that allowed us to continue our trip, even if we arrived a bit later than expected). I popped the cork on the Ceretto after putting the kids to sleep.
- In the glass, the wine was a pale garnet with some orange to the rim.
- The wine showed a moderately high intensity, still retaining its youthful level of development. Plum, smoke and dark chocolate all made an appearance, along with hints of wood and minerality.
- On the palate, the Ceretto showed medium plus levels of acid and tannin. The tannins were quite round, but had a bit of sharp bite to them. The roundness of the tannins help accentuate the medium plus body, and the alcohol felt slightly high. Overall the wine had a moderately high intensity level in the mouth, paired with a medium length finish, showing flavors of black cherry, plum, chocolate and green tobacco leaf. Red licorice began to dominate after some air.
On the second night, after simply recorking and leaving the bottle on the counter, sweet tobacco and red licorice showed on the nose, with creamy cherry flavors interlacing with sharp tannins and a high-toned alcohol feeling in the mouth.
Overall the 2008 Ceretto Zonchera was good. While it had some pretty aromas, two things troubled me. The first was the balance was off, with the alcohol level overpowering the other structural elements. Secondly, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was tasting something other than Nebbiolo. In my opinion, the Ceretto did not seem to hold onto its inherent sense of being Nebbiolo. It lost some of its uniqueness, and could have easily been a Merlot. While the wine saw some modern touches in its handling in the winery, its production was by no means firmly in the Modernist camp. However, there was something inherently incongruent about the wine to me. I have a 2010 version (labeled simply as Barolo per recent branding changes at Ceretto) which I will try soon. Hopefully my experience with the 2008 is simply bottle variation, or improper handling. Or a product of the day and all of its stresses.