Ca' Rome La Gamberaja Barbera d'Alba 1998
Ca' is short for "Casa": home. In fact, you wouldn't take Romano Marengo's for a winery at first. From the road, the house seems to exude a quiet air of comfort and family life. It is right at the top of a Langhe hill, surrounded by an endless vista of gently sloping country; a beautiful, restful home to grow children in, or to grow old in.
Then you walk up to the villa, turn the corner to its southern façade, and you see them. Terraced Nebbiolo vines, beautifully kept. The cool, clean air around you tingles with that brisk, zesty smell of must and oak you find wherever great wines are made: the Langhe hill we stand on is called Rabajà, Barbaresco's historical cru!
Here, after three decades of selecting fine wines, Romano set up a winery of his own in 1980, styling the range himself, and taking production to a yearly average of 2,500 cases.
The vineyards' total surface is now a little over 12 acres, partly located at Barbaresco, partly at Serralunga d'Alba, in Barolo territory. In spite of the winery's steady increase in size and importance, when you speak to Signor Marengo and his family (notably son Giuseppe, an oenology graduate, and daughter Paola, in charge of p.r. and marketing), you will find that first impression of Ca' Rome' - its quiet, country-home air, made for leisure and family life - had some truth in it, after all... You feel Romano grew his children and his wines with the same sterling discipline, the same sense of excellence and impeccable standards.
Ca' Rome' is a home: home to classic red wine-making, and to the very finest quality, in life as in wines.
In a sense, “Alba” is a catch-all phrase, and includes the declassified Nebbiolo wines made in Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as the Nebbiolo grown just outside of these regions’ borders. In fact, Nebbiolo d’Alba is a softer, less tannic and more fruit-forward wine ready to drink within just a couple years of bottling. It is a great place to start if you want to begin to understand the grape. Likewise, the even broader category of Langhe Nebbiolo offers approachable and value-driven options as well.
Barbera, planted alongside Nebbiolo in the surrounding hills, and referred to as Barbera d’Alba, takes on a more powerful and concentrated personality compared to its counterparts in Asti.
Dolcetto is ubiquitous here and, known as Dolcetto d'Alba, can be found casually served alongside antipasti on the tables of Alba’s cafes and wine bars.
Not surprisingly, given its location, Alba is recognized as one of Italy’s premiere culinary destinations and is the home of the fall truffle fair, which attracts visitors from worldwide every year.
Friendly and approachable, Barbera produces wines in a wide range of styles, from youthful, fresh and fruity to serious, structured and age-worthy. Piedmont is the most famous source of Barbera; those from Asti and Alba garner the most praise. Barbera actually can adapt to many climates and enjoys success in some New World regions. Somm Secret—In the past it wasn’t common or even accepted to age Barbera in oak but today both styles—oaked and unoaked—abound and in fact most Piedmontese producers today produce both styles.