Renato Ratti Barolo are some of the favourite wines I buy each year. And these are wines I buy for my cellar as well as recommend for yours. I’ve never had a bad Renato Ratti Barolo, but I have had plenty of great ones. The 1996 Marcenasco being chief among them. My attachment to this wine is akin to a good time with a friend: While I know there will be other good times, I wish I could just once, go back and experience that moment in time for the first time again.
The Renato Ratti has quite a story. Born in 1934 he grew up and studied oenology in Alba. His next adventure saw him producing Vermouth and Sparkling Wine for Cinzano in Sao Paolo,
Brazil. During his time in Brazil Renato planted the seed of his innovation. 1965 saw Renato return to Piedmont and buy a small plot in Marcenasco, La Morra. His base became the 14th Century Abbey of L’Annuziata. His oenologist nephew Massimo Martinelli joined him in 1969 to help craft the wines.
It is because of Renato Ratti’s work that we have Barolo and its wines as we know them today. Ratti and a handful of producers challenged the techniques of Barolo.
“They introduced the concept of shortening the length of maceration or skin contact to days instead of weeks. They also shortened the time the wines aged in wood to make the wines more fruity and elegant -less oxidized. This was a big change that was not accepted widely at first but today the market wants to be able to drink their wine when it is younger and so it has become more common practice.” Petro Ratti, 15 September 2012. Taken from this interview on tastingroom.com
“Ratti argued that the so-called traditional methods were an aberration, brought on by labour shortages during periods of war and economic crisis. The truly traditional, but labour-intensive, practice of breaking up the cap had been replaced by maintaining the cap submerged, often weighed down by stones, thus inevitably maximising tannin extraction, which in turn required long ageing in casks.” Stephen Brook Barolo, ancient and modern 2 February 2006 Decanter.com
Renato Ratti Barolo Map
Renato Ratti also brought us the prototype for the vineyard classifications of Barolo. Many producers still refer to the Ratti map. Inspired by the Burgundian model. Ratti studied the terroir of Barolo and the history of the wines. He used his data to mark the distinguished sites of Barolo. The outcome has been single site wines of high quality for us Barolo lovers.
Renato Ratti Barolo Today
The Renato’s son Pietro is still making the wine wines that his Dad started. Massimo Martinelli is also still at the estate. And they are still some of the best in the region.
The vineyard holdings cover 35 hectares. The Renato Ratti Barolo sites include Marcenasco, Rocche dell’Annunziata, and Conca . They have holdings in Monferrato, Langhe, Barbera d’Alba, and Barbera d’Asti.
The Renato Ratti Barolo style is intensity and power. They pack in some alcohol and balance it with new French barriques. These are wines that don’t necessarily look their best young, but with age, the familiar tar n roses come back.
The wines from outside Barolo are far more approachable. Chief among them is the Ochetti Langhe Nebbiolo. From the sandy soils in Roero, it is aromatically gorgeous. And the best vintages dance across your palate with a lightness that makes you wonder if the same producer makes it. It is not at all like Barolo, but it is charming and mercifully drinkable from release.