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lunedì 5 maggio 2014

Francesco Rinaldi, the meaning of ''Cannubbio''

During a reunion of friends and past Maialino wine team colleagues, we sampled from a beautiful roman menu and were fortunate to get served some memorable Nebbiolo from wine director, Jeff Kellogg.

After quenching our Champagne thirst we dove into two Nebbiolo's, a 1989 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo ''Cannubbio'', followed by a 1974 Oddero Barolo.

The '74 Oddero was drinking right around its peak, perhaps a touch past.  A bit thinner than the Rinaldi with an edgier acidity, tasting like a cigarette was put out in a shot of half cherry liquer half swamp water with a garnish of taleggio rind… you know in a delicious way though.

The Cannubbio from Rinaldi was one of the top five Nebbiolo's I have ever consumed no doubt.
Swampy cherries, with a gigantic liquorish bouquet, morphing into dark chocolate and tar, with a background of wilting roses.  Medium and long in body with still a large, youthful mid palate and gorgeous acidity that will allow this bad guy to age for at least 20 more years.  Drinking this wine was like riding an everlasting Nebbiolo wave.

What and where is Cannubbio?

After some research and a read through the Slowfood book,  ''a wine atlas of the Langhe'', I was surprised to find no easy answers regarding the intentions of ''Cannubbio'' on Rinaldi's Barolo labels.
I found three websites all providing different information about Cannubbio, Cannubi and Cannubi Boschis.

I Emailed over to the Francesco Rinaldi winery in Barolo to find out the deal, Paola responded as follows…

''Cannubbio was the old name used for this area (we found it in old documents and books). The modern name is Cannubi (on the maps starting with vintage 2010). Our old vintages are Barolo Cannubbio and our Barolo 2010 is Cannubi. We own nearly 2 hectars in Cannubi boschis  (the first part of the hill) and a small part in Cannubi (in the middle of the hill)

In the article Battling bureaucracy in BaroloJancis Robinson writes about the controversial change Giuseppe Rinaldi was forced into.  As of 2010 they can no longer label a Barolo ''Brunate-Le Coste'' because of two vineyards appearing on the label (It seems the 2010 will be labeled Brunate but will contain a blend of 15% Le-Coste grapes.) But as far as Cannubi goes, it seems to be okay to label a Barolo ''Cannubi'' even if its coming from the Cannubi Boschis (aka Monghisolfo) or other surrounding Cannubi sub zone vineyards. 

My friend Alfonso Cevola wrote on the current state of Cannubi itself a couple of years ago in an article To Cannubi or not to Cannubi? where he was coming up with at least 25 hectares of wine being labeled Cannubi even though it is an area of 15 hectares.

I guess this is all a classic example of how strange, unorganized and controversial Italian wine is.  I originally only wanted to share a few amazing wines I recently drank and the cannubbio gods took me on a never-ending tangent.  And I guess after three days of searching my original idea of ''sure, cannubbio is synonymous with cannubi right? hasn't really changed that much.

Happy Nebbiolo drinking

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