With 30 hectares of production, the Mauro Sebaste winery continues to be one of the hidden gems amoung Piedmont producers, crafting stellar, small production wines. The winery produces just over 120,000 bottles and the winemaking style leans toward progressive with a classic bent. One of the most trend setting moves by the winery is this year’s start of the transition away from traditional cork closure to the use of Diam corks in a couple of the 2016 Barolo’s. I’ve reviewed two for this article. I’m duly impressed by this move and hope it continues to grow among Sebaste’s line up. If it plays out as intended, it will benefit the wines visa vie bottle-to-bottle consistency and also for long term aging not being flawed by TCA contaminated cork closures. From the winery, we have this:
In recent vintages we are transitioning cork selection little by little from the classic natural cork to the DIAM cork. This is because even though we have always invested a lot in natural cork (1.20 euro per cork!!) we found some little cork defects, sometimes a lack of homogeneity in the bottles. So, by using DIAM we can grant homogeneity, so all the bottles are the same and there are no cork defects. On the other side the DIAM close the bottles tightly and need to breathe a little more in the glass before expressing itself. You know the DIAM corks, they are crafted from all-natural cork that is first reduced to particles, then treated to exclude the TCA molecule. They are then reassembled with beeswax, so they are totally natural product. The model we use is called “Origine”.
My observation is that the Diam corks are more compact and firmer in texture than a tradition cork, thus harder to remove from the bottle as a result. They appear to be a well thought out solution to the problem. Time will tell in terms of how the wines age with long term cellaring, but I’m in favor of this move rather than going to screw caps, which create a reduction atmosphere in the bottle. I look forward to seeing how this decision progresses in the future and hope this is a long-term solution to a nagging problem for all wineries from around the world. One that embraces the sex appeal of the classic cork closure while avoiding the modernist blandness of screw caps.
I embrace this wineries’ closure developments as they move to make TCA flaws a thing of the past, while preserving the classic cork closure. Enjoy these fabulous bottlings, they represent the finest of the Modernist/Progressive movement with a decidedly classic twist. Bravo Mauro!
2017 Sebaste, Nizza DOCG, Costemonghisio (RT 92+) A new project for Sebaste which was released first in 2015, thus this is their third vintage produced. Here we are in the village of Vinchio in the area of Monghisio, one between the most esteemed areas for Barbera. The soil is sandy in the first 40-50 cm then transitions to tuff, so it bears excellent characteristics of the Barbera grape. This vintage is a mix of 60-70-year-old plants blended with some newer plantings with the newer ones are clonal selections for highest quality and lowest yields. This is dark and dense revealing loads of class and an alluring bouquet of deep raspberry, leather, hints of underbrush and a smattering of brown tobacco. With time indications of minerality emerge. Lovely balance with delicious fruit, soft tannin and an accent of acidity make this a terrific food wine. I find the tonneaux treatment particularly attractive as it adds an excellent amount of tannin for midterm cellaring, while not overdoing the toast aspect. A fine bottling in the $25 price range, this is a not to be missed baller bottling. Seriously delicious! Drink now-2027
2016 Sebaste, Barolo, Trèsüri (RT 94) A classic example of Barolo blending, this wine is sourced from estate-grown fruit from three Cru vineyards: Verduno’s Cru Breri, which is near Monvigliero (utilized for the fruit’s floral, fleshier aspect), La Morra’s Cru Roncaglie (added for its elegant, fine grained, sophisticated tannin) and Cerretta in Serralunga (added for structure and depth). Trèsüri Barolo is aged for three years in mostly second and third passage 1600-liter French oak barrels with a small amount in 400-500-liter tonneaux. The slight modern polish fades quickly in the glass, revealing the power, ripeness and firmness of the 2016 vintage. Notes of perfectly ripe morello cherry, rose water, sweet herbs and the slightest hint of green tea lead to a rich, full figured mouth coating ripeness. Wonderfully balanced acidity and sweet, ripe tannins combine for a perfect finish. This is beautiful and a wonderfully complete Barolo. Drink 2024-2040+
2016 Sebaste, Barolo Cerretta (RT 95) Sourced from estate-grown fruit from the exceptional Serralunga Cru Cerretta, this fabulous bottle is aged for three years in French oak, 400-500 liter tonneaux, employing mixed new and mostly used barrels. 2016 is the first vintage in which they have partially bottled with the DIAM cork, closing 20% of the production with it. While the hue here is similar to the Trèsüri, the aromatics are ramped up and more high toned with penetrating notes of mentholated cherry, cranberry, licorice and fresh rose petal. The mouthfeel is taught and firm, showing an almost 1996-ish character with firm fruit, acid and perfectly ripe tannin. With time in the glass notes of goudron and violets emerge. The palate is exceptionally endowed with a delicious balance of fruit, acidity and fine grained, ripe tannin. A real gem with outstanding aging potential, drink 2026-2046+
2014 Sebaste, Barolo Riserva. Ghé (RT 95+) Barolo Ghé, harvested from a sub plot of the Cerretta Cru, is their Riserva. It is a bottling only produced in worthy vintages and in limited quantity with a miniscule 800-1,000 bottles total production. In 2014 it was produced as a challenge to see what results it might yield. A combination of soil, clonal selection (only the michet clone is used) and low yields results in a premier quality bottling, even in the challenging vintage like 2014. Crafted from a mere one cluster of grapes per branch (3 clusters per vine) they trim the extremities of the cluster for the highest quality. The results are remarkably different than their classic Cerretta bottling, which shows power and purity of fruit. Here the result reveals a sensual earth-driven bouquet rich with ripe dark spicy plums, black cherry, pan iron minerality and sous bois. This is a burly, masculine wine that shows delicious, broad scaled fruit and a power-packed, mouth coating texture. I can’t wait to taste the 2015 and 2016 of this wine. A truly prolific bottling, drink 2014-2044+