Renato Ratti was quite literally the man who put Barolo on the map. After purchasing a small plot of land in the commune of La Morra and bottling his debut Barolo in 1965, Ratti drew the first map of Barolo “cru” vineyards, establishing the concept of terroir in the context of Italian wine. Ratti built his namesake winery in 1968 and died, aged 54, in 1988; nearly 30 years later, Renato’s son and successor Pietro, recognized for continuing his father’s groundbreaking legacy of single-vineyard Barolo wines, acquired what he considers the crown jewel of the family’s many holdings: the Cascina Sorello estate, in the southern portion of Serradenari. At over 1,400 feet above sea level, it sits at one of the highest grape-growing elevations in the region. Equally important, it’s situated within a designated MGA, or menzioni geografiche aggiuntive, one of 181 specific geographic locations within the Barolo region—the local equivalent of a cru vineyard.
Pietro’s first release from Cascina Sorello is Ratti 2019 Barolo Serradenari, from a season that he refers to as a collector’s vintage. Weather conditions from beginning to end, he says, “allowed the production of a very complex Barolo, suitable for aging. Similar to 2016, the 2019 vintage shows more delicate notes in the nose, more floral notes, and overall, more finesse.” Following two “more approachable vintages, the warm and opulent 2017 and cool and elegant 2018, the 2019 is more classic,” he explains.
Pietro took over at just 20 years old, with the help of his cousin, Massimo Martinelli, who had been Renato’s right-hand man. He began purchasing plots of land in La Morra in 1990, and since 2004 his Barolos have been made with only estate-grown grapes. The decades he has spent refining his father’s ideas and techniques have led to some of the finest wines in the history of the storied label. Starting with the 2015 vintage—the 50th since Renato first bought fruit from the Marcenasco cru—the winery has been known simply as Ratti, in homage to both father and son.
Pietro first visited the Cascina Sorello estate in 2017, finding it “a total surprise.” He describes the site as a “perfect amphitheater of a unique 11 acres of Barolo, looking directly to our beautiful and imposing Alps,” with the regional mountain breezes resulting in a cooler microclimate. Grapes from just over one hectare (less than two and a half acres) of the vineyard were used to produce about 5,000 bottles of the first vintage of Serradenari, of which only 2,400 bottles have been imported into the United States. Not to be missed.