The winery of the historic family firm of Renato Ratti sits overlooking a magnificent sweep of vines, just on the edge of the town of La Morra. Sig. Ratti made a significant contribution to wine making here, being first off the mark with the classification of the important single vineyards, the ‘cru’. The winery used to be in the old abbey which is now a wine museum and it is entirely consistent with the standards shown here that the new winery has been tucked into the hillside which you can just about see on the picture above. With the new winery, first harvest 2005, they have gone to great lengths to create something very beautiful and functional, which enhances the spectacular view rather than detracting from it.
Close up you can see the beautiful lines of the winery and the roof gardens which partly enhance it and partly hide it from view. Inside is just as impressive in terms of functionality, with a system which means that the grapes are only touched once and the various levels being used to create different temperature zones as required by the process. By the time you get down to the private reserve, the bottles share their space with a bit of exposed earth which demonstrates the humidity level perfectly with a soft, slightly mouldy surface.
We tasted two wines, starting with Nebbiolo d’Alba, Occhetti, 2008 (€11), a typical pale ruby red, with plenty of perfume and lovely smooth tannins. The fruit is on the lighter side but nonetheless delicious. I’m not sure about the Napoleonic soldiers’ costumes which adorn this range of wines, but I suppose they speak of the history of the area.
Altogether more serious is the Barolo Rocche 2004 (€40), Rocche being the name of the vineyard which has attracted plenty of important producers in recent years. The wine is complex and sensual, with a multi-layered nose of mint, balsam and prominent red fruit. It finishes at the moment with something quite edgy, with its still young tannins and acidity and good length. This wine gets a rather grander label in gold.
Thank you to the winery for arranging a visit at short notice and for a very good guide. The day was the only grey one in our week, but fortunately I had taken some pictures on the previous day when the sun shone.