On the Road with the Grape Guy

Aurelio Settimo - The In-Person Visit (Piedmont, Italy)

16 Sep 2021

(September 2021) ... Back in March of this year I had the opportunity to Zoom-taste with Tiziana Settimo and was very impressed with the wines - so when the opportunity arose to visit her in person, taste new vintages and explore their vineyards, I jumped at the opportunity.

First, the winery farms 7 hectares of land (six of Nebbiolo and one of Dolcetto) and Aurelio Settimo Winery is very proud to be part of what is known as The Green Experience, a voluntary initiative that more than 100 producers in the area have signed on for.

The family came to this land in 1943 and for the first 20 years (or so) the grapes were sold off to local wineries, but by 1962 Aurelio Settimo (Tiziana’s father) decided to make, bottle and label his own wine.

The most "famous” part of the Settimo winery is the cru vineyard Rocche Annunziata, which also has their oldest Nebbiolo vines; they control 3.5 hectares of this 30 hectare plot and are the second largest land holder, which is shared by 22 producers - some who have just one row.

The Old VinesThe winery makes 40,000 bottles of wine a year, and in a strange twist of fate, and because of their position with the Rocche Annunziata Cru, they make more cru Barolo than Classico or Dolcetto. The breakdown in maximums is 8,000 bottles of Dolcetto, 14,000 bottles of Barolo Classico and 24,000 bottles of Rocche dell’Annunziata - if they make a Riserva (last bottling of this wine was in 2012 – next one in 2016) then it comes off of the cru Annunziata bottling.

The vine age on the property range from 7 years (used in the Langhe Nebbiolo and Dolcetto wines - plus the classical Barolo) to 60 years - most of which are in the Annunziata Cru.

Aurelio Settimo is now entering its fourth generation as a family-owned and run wine company/producer - offers have been made, but to this date Tiziana has refused, she feels part of this land and can think of nowhere else she'd rather be (although she did admit that Canada would be on her list of places to go if she were to move) ... As for the family tree of these four generations (based on their relation to Tiziana) it goes exactly like this:

Settimo Tasting RoomDomenico Settimo - Grandfather ... He was a grower first and foremost, but as with most Italian families he made a little wine for personal / family consumption.

Aurelio Settimo - Father... He too was a grower of grapes, but also a self-taught winemaker who created the first label and passed along many words of advice to his daughter about the growing of grapes, the making of wine and the selling of the final product.

Tiziana Settimo ... Describes herself as the “Jolly Joker”, or what we refer to as a Jack-of-all-trades. She worked side-by-side with her father and learned all aspects of the business: "if you don't know how to do it, how can you ask someone else to do it, and know they are doing it right.” – Tiziana (advice her father gave her)

Davida Settimo ... The fourth generation ready to take the reins of winemaking, Tiziana's son went to school in Alba. There are surprisingly only two schools for winemaking and oenology in Italy, and the one in Alba is the oldest of them (150-plus years) - thus making him the first officially taught winemaker of the family.


The Wines ...

Eight wines were tasted in total - four of which were tasted during my Zoom-tasting back in March - they can be found here ...
Did they taste better at the winery? You bet.
Did I rescore the wines? No ... For the reason given above.

2018 Langhe Nebbiolo ... Tiziana continues to make this as an homage to her father, who loved this style; with eight days on skins and no oak this is an interpretation of how Nebbiolo should taste based on its terroir - this is unadulterated Nebbiolo. Subtle coffee aromas with cran-cherry, floral, good tannins (from skins alone) and a nice structure - it's fresh, lively and full of red fruit.  (****)

2017 Barolo ... The hot summer of 2017 drove alcohols up to 14.5% and forced Settimo to abandon their 2017 version of their Langhe Nebbiolo, because they simply could not keep it "light and fresh". This 2017 Barolo has notes of herbal, balsamic, smoke, dark / sour cherry, and is fairly easy-drinking (despite the alcohol heat) with a nicely built tannin structure ... It's young, but it seems ready.  (*** ½+) Barolo Decanted

2016 Barolo ... Aromas of herbs, smoke, cran-cherry, clove, and uncharred oak leads to the flavors of spiced-cherry and dried-strawberry along with balsamic, herbal, oak and powerful tannins that subside with time in the glass, giving way to the more pleasurable notes in this wine. This is a thoroughbred waiting at the gate ... Time will only make this one better.  (****)

2017 Barolo - Rocche dell’Annunziata ... This one kicks off with plenty of red fruit: cherry, strawberry, and raspberry right from the cork pop, and despite the 14.5% alcohol feels light and fresh. The acidity retained in the wine plays with the spice giving it a real “freshness”-factor that you do not expect at all – and as I said before, looking at the alcohol percentage on the label there is no way this wine should taste this fresh and lively. The long finish lingers to such a degree that you actually question when you took your last sip. This is fruit-forward backed by some secondary characteristics where cloves and other spices kick in the on background and the oak is so very well integrated. This truly is a gem of a wine.  (**** ½)


When I asked Tiziana about what makes Annunziata so different and so special, besides the strip of road that separates her vineyards, she points to three factors:

1) Exposure ... The “Barolo” vineyard is southeast facing; while Annunziated is south-southwest facing.  The Road Between

2) Micro-Climate ... The “Barolo” vineyard sits at 320 meters on top of a hill; while Annunziata is at 270 meters, on the middle of a hill, and is completely protected.

3) Soil ... The “Barolo” vineyard grows in calcareous and sandy soils; while Annunziata is calcareous and blue marl, which is of marine origin and does not absorb water, the grapes must then struggle to find water making them stronger and healthier.




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