CAPPELLANO: THE HISTORY
Teobaldo Cappellano is, and was, a legend in Barolo. As one of the region’s last great traditionalists he, along with Bartolo Mascerello and Beipi Rinaldi, formed Piedmont’s most important and influential buffer against the ever-increasing modernization and homogenization of Barolo. Throughout the decades Cappellano’s Barolos have remained timeless; a glimpse at what Barolo can and should be if left unmarked by the strong hand of modern, manipulative winemaking.
From the start, Cappellano eschewed new French barriques, cultured yeasts, and enzymes. He was also an original convert to sustainable agriculture – before modern marketing turned it into a cliché. He gave up the use of chemicals completely in the vineyard and winery. The vineyards are now certified organic. But maybe even more interestingly, in 1983, Cappellano refused to deal with wine media who assigned scores to his wines. He claimed scores were a divisive force among winegrowers (and led to wines that pandered to critics’ palates). Surprisingly, his wishes were respected and as such the major wine media has not scored a Cappellano wine for over 30 years. Partly due to this stance, and the minuscule amount of wine produced, these wines remain almost unknown in North America.
To the Barolo classicist, these wines are a vinous dream. However, they are not traditional for tradition’s sake, rather they seek to express with excruciating clarity Nebbiolo’s true voice; its clarion call. These wines are also extremely long-lived and vibrant as a recently tasted 1993 Cappellano Barolo Rupestris attested to (1993 was universally maligned in Piedmont).
Its shocking youthful colour, aromatic lift, focus, and suggested a flavour profile typical of a top Barolo not only 10 years its junior but also from a vintage of far greater repute.
However, their greatest attribute may be in their overall harmony and sense of completeness. Wines that are comfortable in their own shoes. With Cappellano, there are no bad wines (not unlike the best Burgundian Domaines – Lafon, DRC come to mind) only different wines that speak proudly of their origins and of a specific place in time.
Terobaldo Cappellano passed away in 2009. Terobaldo’s son, Augusto has been training meticulously under his father since birth and professionally since 2003. Augusto has been schooled not only in the technique but also in the philosophy of his father’s winemaking. We are confident that the integrity of Cappellano is in the ablest hands for at least another generation.
This is unadulterated Nebbiolo at its best: natural ferments, no manipulation, no new barriques, no smoke, no mirrors.
NOTE: We respect the wishes of Cappellano and will not assign any points, grades or specific tasting notes to the wines.
If you are a collector of Barolo or Italian wines in general and seek out icons like Mascarello and Rinaldi or specifically Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino, or the Tuscan stylings of Soldera and Biondi-Santi, these are a must and will sit comfortably in any blue-chip collection.