Welcome to The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!
This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Jonah Beer, importer, winemaker, and entrepreneur.
This week from Jonah Beer:
Last week we talked about family tradition, legacy, and the transition of a great Domaine. The very thing that Maxime and Tristan are bringing to Patrice Rion and Méo-Camuzet. Let’s bounce back to Piemonte for a moment to check in on two family wineries where the next generation of the family taking the reins of winemaking are both writing a chapter for the family but also adding a new narrative.
Let’s consider for a moment the impact of Luca Roagna on his eponymous family winery. Without question, the wines of this cantina have been heralded and regarded for decades, and with good reason. Although the family has some vines in Barolo, the family’s roots lie in Barbaresco, starting when Luca’s grandfather bought the Paje vineyard in the 1950s. Luca Roagna represents merely the latest generation to work in this historical wine estate, alongside his father, Alfredo. He adheres to the multi-generation tradition of placing a premium on massale selection when planting a new vine. This commitment provides rich biodiversity to the vineyards. Yet, he brings innovation to the winery, opting for large, French oak upright fermenters, 60-days of extraction, and minimal Sulphur dioxide throughout the elevage of the wines. The result of this blending of tradition and innovation is a wine of extraordinary complexity, the finest of tannins, and transparency to the vineyards themselves.
Another family straddling both Barbaresco and Barolo is Cerreto. Founded in the 1930s by Riccardo Cerreto, the cantina is famed for its early adoption of making and bottling single-cru wines from Barolo. But that isn’t where each generation has left their innovation. You could say that each has made an impact. Riccardo started the winery by buying grapes and making wine. He was reluctant—and probably wise back then—to avoid investing inland. Then, along came his sons Bruno and Marcello, who saw that the landscape had changed, and they invested heavily by acquiring the land that now makes up the estate. The move to single-cru bottling came next, and all seemed new again. Enter generation #3. In the early 2000s, Alessandro Ceretto, a part of that current, third-generation family, joined the cantina fresh from the enology school after gaining years of experience in wineries around the world. By 2008 his innovative thinking and approach led him to many new processes such as fermenting the different crus without selected yeasts and gradually developing a wild yeast starter used to carry out fermentation. Gen Three has created a new approach in the cantina and the community, as co-founders, alongside chef Enrico Crippa, of the Piazza Duomo restaurant, the only one in Piemonte with three Michelin stars.
Across both Bourgogne and Piemonte family is paramount. And in both regions, and in many cases, the next generation gets the chance to add a little something to the winery legacy. Sometimes it is a single, meaningful, impactful act that reflects in the vineyards or wines. Other times, it is a bold statement or the start of something new. In either case, the winery usually ends up with a little better wine…or just maybe Three Michelin Stars.
Check out the wines below!