Giuseppe Caviola isn't a household name for most fans of Piedmont wines. Caviola is a consulting enologist who counts quite a few well-known labels among his clients, however: Marziano Abbona, Damilano, Luigi Einaudi, Fontanabianca, Fiorenzo Nada, Pecchenino, Albino Rocca, Vietti and Villa Sparina in Piedmont; Rocca di Castagnoli, Sette Ponti and Terenzi in Tuscany; Umani Ronchi in Marche and Ca' Rugate in Veneto.
In addition to his consulting duties, Caviola, known as "Beppe," also owns a 33-acre estate. After finishing his enology studies, he took a job near Alba in a lab. To better understand viticulture and winemaking, he rented a vineyard in his hometown of Montelupo, near Diano, in 1991. That year Caviola made a small amount of Dolcetto.
He purchased more vineyards over the years and now makes six different wines under the Ca'Viola label, having added Barbera d'Alba Brichet and Bric du Luv (the latter from 60-year-old vines), Dolcetto d'Alba Barturot and Vilot. These are all in Montelupo, from calcareous clay and marl soils similar to the nearby Serralunga commune.
There are also two small plots (5 acres) of Nebbiolo located in the Sottocastello cru in the commune of Novello. These lie just over 1,500 feet in elevation on chalky soils, facing south and southeast. Ca'Viola's Barolo and Langhe Nebbiolo come from these respective parcels.
Caviola was in New York recently and brought his newly-bottled Barbera d'Alba Bric du Luv 2011 and Barolo Sottocastello 2009 to taste. The 2011 growing season was relatively warm, producing wines with lower acidity and greater extract and body than both 2010 and 2012.
Bric du Luv used to be aged in used barrique and tonneaux, but in 2011, Caviola changed to 80 percent large cask and 20 percent 2-year-old tonneaux. He feels this gives a better expression of the Barbera fruit and the vineyard with less oak influence. The Bric du Luv 2011 expresses aromas and flavors of violet and black currant matched to rich, supple texture, with just a hint of tannins on the finish.
The Barolo Sottocastello 2009 was more reticent, starting out elegant and silky, with refined tannins emerging on the finish. The fruit is not yet developed in this red, yet it will not be released until next spring, much later than most 2009 Barolos.
Caviola ferments with indigenous yeast, macerating for 30 days. The malolactic occurs late and spontaneously. After three years in a 50-hectoliter cask, the Sottocastello spends a year in bottle before release.
The first vintage of Barolo was the 2006; the 2008 was the debut vintage in the United States. As a consultant, Caviola's work is behind the scenes; his own estate showcases his talent. This is a label to watch.