Michele Chiarlo ’16 Mesi Le Orme’, Barbera d’Asti 2017
A fresh Barbera with flavours of red cherry and cinnamon and cedar hints.
Michele Chiarlo is one of Piedmont’s most prestigious winemakers, producing outstanding wines from some of the most exceptional sites in Piedmont, including Barolo’s world famous Cannubi and Cerequio vineyards. Founded in 1956 by Michele Chiarlo and now run by his sons Alberto and Stefano, the Chiarlo philosophy “is to capture the terroir” and with judicious use of oak they develop some wines for ageing and some which can be enjoyed earlier. Their stunning collection of Barolo and Barbera wines consistently receive 90+ points from Wine Advocate, James Suckling and Wine Enthusiast.
The 2017 vintage was characterised by a long dry summer with very little rainfall. Therefore, in the vineyards, agronomic practices to preserve the freshness of the soil and the grapes were adopted. Exceptional work was done to oxygenate the roots and avoid the loss of leaves which were necessary to provide shade and protect the berries from direct sunlight. The period of thinning was also delayed in order to minimise any chance of damage to the grape clusters. In order to maintain elegance, freshness and to avoid an excessive alcohol, the harvest took place approximately 10 days earlier than the normal harvest period. Le Orme 2017 is an excellent vintage. Barbera, more than other vines, thrives in these climatic conditions as long as the precautions mentioned above are taken in the management of the vineyards.
Michele Chiarlo leads the way in the production of Barbera d’Asti and over the past 50 years they have devoted time, research and investment into the vineyards and cellar, resulting in this highly regarded wine. This Barbera d’Asti is named after the Orme su La Court, Michele Chiarlo’s artistic park. The grapes are cultivated here and also in Montemareto and Costa della Monarche in the Asti area. The vineyard soils are known as ‘Astiane Sands’ and consist of calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand; they are rich in microelements, in particular magnesium. These soils produce ample, intense and elegant wines of good structure, yet they are also fresh and velvety with a long, silky finish.
The fruit was picked when it was fully ripe and each vineyard block was fermented separately. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks, lasting for 10 days with maceration on the skins. A gentle shower system of submerging the cap was used to extract flavour, colour and structure. After malolactic fermentation the wine was racked and aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak. The oak ageing lasted for three months, imparting a subtle complexity, but the final blend overall retains its freshness and the varietal Barbera characteristics. The wine then spent further time in bottle, with the maturation period totalling 16 months, hence the name 16 Mesi.
An elegant and intense Barbera, bursting with notes of ripe cherry and redcurrant, layered with a touch of spice. Harmonious, rounded and beautifully balanced through to a lovely savoury finish.