Outstanding wines at a reasonable price from Italy’s Piedmont region are rare gems, but you can obtain one with the 2008 Renato Ratti Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti.
Nebbiolo is the grape that makes the world-famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines. These wines link fortune to fame, as many are priced for special occasions, or out of the range of the average wine consumer. But the more affordable route to well-made nebbiolo runs through Piedmont’s Roero area.
The Barolo and Barbaresco appellations are small areas on the right bank of the Tanaro River, which flows around the city of Alba. On the other side of the Tanaro River sits Roero, named for the merchant family that dominated the zone during the Middle Ages. Nebbiolo is a primary grape of Roero’s vineyards, but without the same soil and exposure of Barolo and Barbaresco, Roero’s wines lack complexity and long aging potential. But Roero offers wine consumers another set of qualities: pure fruit flavors, immediate gratification and good-value.
In 1965, Renato Ratti, then 31, returned to Piedmont after working for Cinzano in Brazil. He purchased his first vineyard in the Marcenasco area of the Barolo zone. Four years later, his nephew, Massimo Martinelli partnered with him. In the ensuing decade, the two trained enologists would revolutionize winemaking in Barolo and Barbaresco, and add prized vineyards in the Conca and Rocche areas. Ratti would go on to produce the first-single vineyard Barolo, create the first chart all the vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco, write about their characteristics, and serve as the president of the Barolo and Barbaresco Consortium before his early death in 1988.
In 1969, Ratti produced his first vintage of Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti. Pietro Ratti, Renato’s son, makes the 2008 Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti from purchased grapes in the same Monteu vineyard area of Roero. It has a translucent cherry hue and an enticing mix of mild oak, spice and raspberry scents. Nebbiolo has a resemblance to Burgundy’s pinot noir, and Ratti’s 2008 Ochetti has the delicate texture of that grape married to Nebbiolo’s cranberry-raspberry flavor and tang. Ratti’s 2008 Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti is harmonious, tasty, and irresistible.
I savored the 2008 Ratti Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti with a roasted pork loin. The wine is ready for the table, and it’s a match for roasted poultry or duck, grilled pork or veal, or a casserole of roasted fall root vegetables. And a second bottle won’t lighten your wallet the way one bottle of Barolo and Barbaresco will.
A few weeks ago, Pietro Ratti was elected by the producers of the region to be the president of the Consortium of Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Lange, and Roero. From wine quality to the wine producers, it’s like father, like son at Ratti.
The 2008 Ratti Nebbiolo d’Alba Ochetti retails for approximately $21.