After visiting some wineries in the Roero, we think Cantina Maccagno deserves a special mentioning . While other wineries focus mainly on Nebbiolo, this winery puts the Favorita and Barbera grapes on a pedestal. For some years now, brothers Livio and Corrado Maccagno have been running this family estate situated in the heart of the Roero. They upgraded their wines year after year, based upon an increased understanding of the Roero soil. This specific soil is less compact than the one in the Langhe because of the interwoven layers of sand within the calcareous marl. Almost all their grapes grow on Canal’s most prestigious hill, San Michele.
On San Michele, they produce the classic Piemonte wines, starting with a very fruity Spumante (70% Arneis 30% Nebbiolo). Although a Brut, this wine is very clean and tight. The Spumante was great, but the Langhe Favorita was even more interesting. The Favorita grape is the little sister of the Arneis: the same notes of minerality but a little bit more fruity. We tasted the wine after only 15 days in the bottle but already it was clear that this is a perfect aperitif wine with a perfect price/quality ratio. The Nebbiolo was simply great! A more powerful color than usual (Livio adds lots of skins and seeds during the maceration), a lot of fruit in the nose, and a velvet taste in the mouth.
But let’s focus on the real star of the winery: the Barbera Arcale. The Barbera grapes grow on 50-year old vines in the village of Castellinaldo, a perfect Barbera terroir. The Castellinaldo underground has a lot of limestone and marl and is less sandy than the soil around Asti. As a consequence the wine has less acidity and does not need a lot of wood to compensate this. The less pronounced acidity is why the locals say Barbera d’Alba is better then Barbera d’Asti. Based on our experiences with the Barbera Arcale, we are tempted to believe them.
Even though the Barbera Arcale is matured for 12 months in small oak barrels, the wood notes are not overwhelming. The wine has a complex nose of ripe fruit (plum), an intriguing spiciness (cinnamon and vanilla) and a full-bodied taste. At the moment they are lobbying to create a DOC for Barbera de Castellinaldo and based on the wines we’ve tasted, it would be well deserved. Apart from Maccagno, more and more producers (like Ca Du Russ) are discovering the potential of Barbera in Castellinaldo.
So with the Favorita and the Barbera Arcale this Roero producer creates something atypical with a very nice price/quality ratio. A winery well worth following!