Roagna Barbaresco Paje 2015
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The Roagna family’s involvement with wine in Barbaresco predates the commune’s official classification. Luca Roagna, the family member currently at the helm of the estate, is the fifth generation to make wine in the area. Their vineyard acquisitions in Barbaresco have been based on historical significance rather than mere commercial ambition, beginning with Montefico in 1929, Pajè in 1953, the famed Asili in 1961, and expanding to Barolo in 1989 with the purchase of Pira (a monopole they own completely). The farming is meticulous with an eye to biodiversity. The Roagna vineyards are known for being unruly, full of wild grasses and flowers between the vines that are only rarely cut. This is not mere marketing speak—10 varieties of mint alone have been identified in their vineyards. They also never use herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers (even organic). Perhaps consequently, they have some of the oldest vines in the Langhe, averaging around 60 years of age, with some in Pajè around 100 years old. Replanting is performed on an individual, vine-by-vine, basis and only with cuttings from old vines from the same parcel. As you can imagine, their work in the cellar is very traditional. Fermentation takes place via native yeast (they use a pied de cuve, if you want to get geeky) and aging takes place in large neutral French oak barrels (or botti)—the barrels are never toasted, having even been formed by steam instead of flame. The wine is typically kept in contract with the grape skins for 60 to 100(!) days and ages in barrel for three years or more, depending on the particular wine.