Renato Vacca, one of Barbaresco's most talented winemakers, died March 14 after a yearlong battle with cancer. Vacca, along with his wife, Franca Miretti, owned Cantina del Pino, producing wines that were elegant and complex, with the structure to age. He was 51.
"I have always been extremely impressed by his dedication to reach the greatest purity and terroir distinction in all his wines, which, like him, may appear humble and shy when young, but which absolutely shine after a few years in the bottle," said Aldo Vacca, Renato's cousin and the current director of the Produttori del Barbaresco winery.
After growing up in Barbaresco and studying winemaking at the school of enology in Alba, Vacca spent five years with Produttori del Barbaresco, the local cooperative where the family sold its grapes. In 1997 he convinced his father to leave the co-op and start their own label. Vacca wanted to test his own ideas and methods in the vineyard and cellar.
Cantina del Pino's simple label depicts the giant pine tree marking the top of the Ovello hill where the estate is located. The tree was planted by Domizio Cavazza, one of the founders of the original Barbaresco cooperative in 1894, to celebrate the birth of his son in 1886. Vacca's great-grandfather Giuseppe purchased the estate from Cavazza's son in 1920, renaming it after the maritime pine.
Vacca's Barbarescos are understated and elegant when young, yet expressive, complex and with the structure to age. The Ovello is the flagship, from vineyards around the house and cellar, but there are also single-vineyard labels from Albesani and occasionally Gallina, plus a Barbaresco blended from three vineyards. Though traditional in style, Vacca also used neutral barriques for the first year of aging, transferring the wine to 20-hectoliter casks for another 12 to 20 months, depending on the cuvée.
Vacca and his cousin Aldo were close and lived next-door to each other. “This last year, knowing where his life was going, was quite sad,” Aldo told Wine Spectator. “But I tried to cherish every little time we could spend together. I am glad he has been able to work harvest 2019 still in relatively decent health.”
In addition to his wife, Vacca is survived by his daughter, Anna.