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The September 2022 Auction: Part 4

Auction # 729 | View Auction Schedule and Details
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Auction Ends: 9/22/2022 6:00:00 PM PDT

Lot #552. Roberto Voerzio Barolo Cerequio 1989

Description: Consists of 1 Bottle, 0.75L
Region: Italy, Piedmont, Barolo.
Score: 95 AG.
"Voerzio's 1989 Barolo Cerequio reveals gorgeous inner perfume, along with notable density and richness in its fruit. Aromatically, it is perhaps a touch more forward than it is on the palate . . . . Soft, silky tannins frame an impeccable finish. Roberto Voerzio's Barolos are some of the richest, deepest and most texturally beautiful wines readers will come across. This incredible tasting, which spanned 20 vintages and nearly 40 wines, provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at the evolution of one of the world's most talented and passionate winemakers. I was struck with nearly all the wines I sampled, but in many ways it is the Barolos from the smaller, forgotten vintages that made the deepest impression. The majority of these wines were tasted during a visit to the winery in November 2009, while a few additional bottles came from my cellar. Roberto Voerzio had a clear idea of the wines he wanted to make from the outset, but he got a later start than most of his contemporaries because he spent the first years of his career working alongside his brother Gianni before striking out on his own in 1987. Over the years, Roberto Voerzio acquired parcels in La Morra's finest sites, giving him a collection of grand cru vineyards matched by few growers. Despite all of his success, Voerzio remains an essentially simple, down to earth person with a continuous drive to improve that is rare, even in Piedmont. Today Voerzio makes as many as seven single-vineyard Barolos. Voerzio's fanaticism informs all aspects of production, and he only bottles his wines when he is completely happy with them, so it is the rare vintage when all seven Barolos are released. A luxury Barbera from the Pozzo vineyard in the Annunziata district of La Morra made with the same rigorous low yields as the Barolos and a more affordable set of wines including a Dolcetto, Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo round out the range. Though often lumped in with the modern school in Barolo, Voerzio takes his greatest inspiration from the masters of the traditional school, including Bruno Giacosa, Giovanni Conterno and Beppe Rinaldi, all men he still speaks about with the highest respect and admiration. I was amazed to see Voerzio open a number of reference-point Barolos from these producers at the end of this tasting; a decidedly high risk proposition, given the icon status of those bottles. I can't think of another producer – particularly one with a relatively short track record – so willing to put everything on the line in openly comparing his wines to the acknowledged masterpieces of the region. Voerzio is best known for fanatically low yields, which clearly inform his Barolos and is a major reason his early vintages remain fresh and intact to this day, a quality shared by many of his wines from lesser vintages as well. Twenty years ago the idea of green harvesting was still radical in Piedmont, a poor, agrarian region where cutting of bunches of grapes was seen as the equivalent of throwing money away. Voerzio was convinced otherwise and followed his instincts by pursuing a radical approach to low yields. Voerzio cuts entire bunches off his plants, the point the rows between his vineyards are literally strewn with fruit. Bunches that remain are meticulously trimmed, particularly towards the bottom and the sides of the bunch, where the harsher tannins are believed to lie. The typical triangular Nebbiolo bunch is transformed into a small, roundish shape, and yields are brought down to level previously never seen in Piedmont. Part One – The Early Wines: 1988-1993 Voerzio's Barolos from the late 1980s and early 1990s capture a compelling balance between a modern concept of vineyard management and a fairly traditional style of vinification. Although Voerzio was in his mid-30s at the time, it is nevertheless remarkable to consider that Voerzio had been on his own for just a few years when he made these magical Barolos. The 1988, 1989 and 1990 Barolos were vinified in stainless steel, where they also underwent malolactic fermentation prior to being aged in equal parts cask and barrique, an approach Voerzio returned to with his 2008s after having moved exclusively to French oak in 1994. All of these wines remain in great shape, with notable integrity in their colors and flavors. Most surprising of all are some of the wines from the lesser years of the early 1990s that are still wonderfully pure and intact. It is perhaps those wines that speak most eloquently to Roberto Voerzio's stature as one of Italy's very finest producers." Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com, Mar 2010
Lot Location: Orange County
Estimate: $120

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