If you’re planning a trip to the Langhe and trying to squeeze in as many winery visits as possible, be prepared to make some tough decisions. The area is jam-packed with wonderful producers and there are just too many gems to be able to squeeze them all in. Even if you plan to visit 3-4 wineries per day like we did. That’s right, we easily visited 20 wineries, if not more, during our 5 day trip to Piemonte. But allow me to lift one burden off your shoulders and make at least one day of your planning a bit easier. Do not miss Oddero in La Morra. In fact, these legendary wines are so exceptional, I advise you to book your Oddero tasting appointment first and plan the rest of your day around it.
Poderi e Cantine Oddero
The Oddero family has been making wine in La Morra since the 18th century, if not earlier. Township documents and photographs illustrate Giovanni Battista Oddero, followed by his sons Luigi and Lorenzo, began making wine from the 18th and 19th centuries. Oddero wines were first sold only in small barrels, until the first Giacomo Oddero began bottling their wines around 1878. By the end of the 19th century, Oddero Barolo was already being exported to the United States of America.
Born in 1926, the second Giacomo Oddero, grandson of the first, infused his charismatic spirit into the family business. He renovated the family’s house and farm in the 1950’s and dedicated himself to the advancement of Oddero wines along with the wines of the Cuneo province. Giacomo’s efforts led to the establishment of the Langhe and Roero DOC designations and later their elevation to DOCG status. Additionally, Giacomo worked to expand Oddero’s vineyard holdings, increase production at the winery, and establish quality levels which have made Oddero wines famous the world over.
Today, Mariachristina, Giacomo’s daughter, and her children, Isabella and Pietro, are at the helm of Poderi e Cantine Oddero. Mariachristina warmly welcomed us to the winery and her passion for the centuries old family business was evident by the look in her eye. We met Isabella as well and could tell the family’s dedication has enabled the winery to receive such international acclaim.
You’ll need to book your wine tasting appointment in advance, as they were quite busy receiving guests when we were there. Plus, Oddero offers a fantastic in-depth tasting experience, explaining the family’s history and the influence of terroir on all their wines. We visited the quaint Oddero family museum with relics demonstrating the century and a half of vinicultural experience behind the Oddero name.
We also toured the impressive wine cellars filled with botte grande, those extremely large barrels or oak vessels, where time, oak, and oxygen were working their magic on Nebbiolo. Then, sat down for a tasting of extremely refined Barolo, the type of wines which indicate over a century of viticultural knowledge behind them.
Oddero stays true to old school Barolo, working in the classic assemblage winemaking style. The more recent trend in Barolo is to produce single vineyard or cru Barolo. Assemblage, rather, blends grapes from different vineyard sites. This allows Oddero to consistently reach their standard of quality year after year regardless of weather, as Piedmont is quite prone to summer rains and hail. For Barolo, they also generally skip smaller barrels and mature their Nebbiolo in the large oak casks (botte grande). I noticed upon strolling through the winery that many of the casks are made from Slovenian oak. Actually, Slovenian oak is used widely throughout Barolo, as it gives structure while still respecting the character of the fruit and terroir.
When it comes to winemaking for their Barolo, Oddero aims for spontaneous fermentation when possible. Typically, fermentation starts after a 7-8 day period and they drain the tanks right after fermentation finishes, no post-fermentation maceration. Only pump overs, or rimontaggio, are used for cap management during fermentation for a gentler extraction.
I did my best to take tasting notes, but was really enjoying the moment. So here’s the chicken scratch I was able to capture. But know that Oddero wines are complex, well-structured, beautifully integrated, and truly expressive of Nebbiolo. In a word, they are stunning.
- 75% Nebbiolo, 25% Barolo
- Aromas of citrus, orange peel, and strawberry
- Structured with bright acidity
- Lots of red fruits, strawberry & raspberry
- A bit hot
- 12-13 year old vines
- 10 months maturation
- Highly aromatic: rose, violet, smoke, tar
- High acidity, grippy yet pleasant tannins
- Fruit forward, very fragrant with rose floral notes
- Tannin ++
- Sky-scraping acidity
Barolo (Villero) DOCG 2015
- So fragrant ***
- Rose, tar, smoke, earth
- Astringent tannins, can age 10 more years
Barolo (Villero) DOCG 2013
- Well-ventilated, windy vineyard leads to delicate palate
- So concentrated at center palate
- Red fruit, smoke, tar, violet, rose, truffle, mushrooms