The list of time-honored, truly great vineyards in Barolo is limited to about 15 places. Ranking these sites precisely is very difficult and equally as subjective, so I won’t even attempt. But I doubt that any knowledgeable expert on the subject would not put “Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto” in the top 5. It really has to be there. In time, if the gradual warming trend continues, some sites that are now in that top 5 that are south facing, which means almost all the others, may have to leave that rarified list as they will cross over to the “slightly too warm” side of the micro climate.
“Le Rocche” however will stay, as it is one of the few truly great sites that is east-southeast facing and considerably cooler than most of the others at that level of recognition. As a result of this exposition, the hallmark style of wines from Le Rocche has always been one of finesse, perfume and balance. The vineyard is highly coveted by all producers in Barolo, but is one of the smaller of the great sites. It is really tiny when compared to Cannubbi or Bussia. One of the largest pieces, a mere 2.5 hectares, is in the hands of Claudio Viberti, whose family has farmed this site for 3 generations as owners and several more prior as sharecroppers. His story like many others’ is familiar, the grandfather and father sold grapes and bulk wine to the big houses and the son wanted to bottle his own wine. So Claudio attended enology school in Alba and Presto! His third vintage (2005) takes a Decanter “Highly recommended”. Although the story in general is familiar, few sons have the chance to do it with a hefty chunk of “Le Rocche”!
Wine making here is traditional –i.e. old school, spontaneous ferments, long-ish macerations (18-25 days) and 26 month aging in 20-25 HL Botte for the Barolo. The style of the resulting wines are also quite traditional in that there are plenty of “autumnal” flavors and aromas including tea, tobacco, leather etc. However they are not very tannic like many old school wines. Total Barolo Production averages 600 cases per year.