Cascina Luisin

History of DomaineWinesTech SheetGalleryLabelsInsights

It is a particular privilege to commence a relationship with one of Barbaresco’s oldest and most iconic producers: Cascina Luisin. Nebbiolo from Piedmont’s great terroirs, after all, has been a cornerstone of our portfolio since the very beginning, when Neal began importing the singular Carema from Luigi Ferrando and the lovely traditional Barbaresco from the Anfosso family at DeForville. Cascina Luisin’s wines hail from some of the zone’s greatest vineyard sites, and offer an elegant but authoritative complexity which adds a new dimension to our already robust cadre of Piedmontese growers.

The Minuto family, of which Cascina Luisin’s current proprietor Roberto Minuto is the eighth generation, have been producing and selling their own wines since the 1860s, when they would lug demijohns up to the market in Turin via oxcart. Under the guidance of Luigi Minuto (Luisin means “little Luigi” in the old Piedmontese dialect), the family began estate-bottling in 1913, becoming one of the two first estates in the zone to do so, and when brothers Mario and Lorenzo (Roberto’s grandfather) split their holdings in 1952, Lorenzo retained the original winery, which sits in the middle of the renowned Rabajà cru in Barbaresco.

Encompassing eight hectares worth of 45- to 65-year-old vines, Cascina Luisin produces nervy, expressive, highly traditional wines from some of Barbaresco’s greatest sites—Asili and Rabajà among them. Roberto employs low-impact farming, retaining grass and vegetation and employing only copper and sulfur to treat the vineyards, except in truly disastrous vintages such as 2002 and 2014. The wines ferment without added yeasts in old non-thermoregulated concrete vessels, with macerations lasting between 30 and 60 days (and sometimes as many as 90); aging is conducted in large Slavonian casks custom-built by the renowned Stockinger cooperage; sulfur is added only when the wines are racked, and bottling takes place without fining or filtration.

Rather than releasing wines according to a market schedule, Roberto and his 85-year-old father put their wines up for sale when they decide they are ready, which ends up being significantly later than most of their peers; thus, we are introducing the estate with their 2015s and 2016s at a time when many growers are about to release their 2019s. Whereas the family has always produced beautifully traditional Barbaresco, Roberto, a trained enologist, has brought a level of precision and elegance to Luisin’s wines over the past two decades without sacrificing any of their gutsy depth or age-worthy concentration.

Roero Arneis “Ave”: From a rented parcel on the hillside between the Castelinaldo and Vezza d’Alba, Luisin’s Roero Arneis “Ave” is raised in steel on its fine lees and bottled after one year with a small amount of sulfur dioxide. Rich but controlled, it offers variety-typical notes of crunchy apricot and anise, with a beam of rippling acidity keeping it dynamic and brisk, and its overall sense of carefully rendered precision is of a piece with its red stablemates.

Barbera d’Alba “Axilium”: Roberto owns a tiny sliver of Barbera in the highly regarded cru of Asili (“Axilium” is a play on the name of the cru), in the commune of Barbaresco, and from it he produces a wine that showcases in eye-popping fashion the variety’s ability to deliver enormous complexity when planted in a vaunted terroir and raised respectfully. Fermented in cement like the Barbaresco but aged two years in small barrels, “Axilium” epitomizes the finesse for which Asili is known, offering dense, tightly reined-in red fruits, blossoming minerality, and a lengthy finish of impeccably rendered tannins.

Langhe Nebbiolo “Maggiur”: From a small parcel in the village of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio in Alba, Cascina Luisin produces a Langhe Nebbiolo which epitomizes their house style of finesse-inflected structured traditionalism. Fermented naturally in concrete and aged one year in large Stockinger casks, the “Maggiur” is pretty yet mineral, with gently toothsome tannins and a bristling sense of energy underpinning its bright red fruits. [Note: the only thing preventing “Maggiur” from being labeled a Nebbiolo d’Alba is the fact that it is not bottled in San Rocco.]

Barbaresco “Paolin”: Luisin’s non-vineyard-specific Barbaresco “Paolin” comes from various holdings throughout the zone, but is built primarily around 45-year-old vines in the sandy south-facing cru of Basarin in Neive. As with all of the estate’s Barbaresco, this ferments naturally in concrete and ages in large custom-built Stockinger casks of Slavonian-oak origin. Gentler in its structure and slightly more fruit-forward than the three wines below, “Paolin” offers a sense of understated elegance wed to a mouthwatering mineral tension.

Barbaresco Asili: This highly regarded cru in Barbaresco is prized for its finesse, which Luisin’s version provides in spades. Compared to its sibling “Rabajà” below, the graceful, majestic 2015 “Asili” is amply structured—make no mistake—but the structure feels more a matter of fact than a particular point of emphasis, and the overall impression is one of lifted, red-fruited elegance. The oft-articulated differences between Barbaresco and Barolo can sometimes be overstated, as cru character and (especially) grower style play exceedingly significant roles, but Luisin’s “Asili” could come from nowhere else but this zone

Barbaresco Rabajà: The fabled Rabajà cru in Barbaresco, within which the Luisin winery itself is situated, borders Asili to the southwest, but the differences in character between the two are striking: Rabajà is brooding and earthy where Asili is bright and mineral, and Luisin’s version of Rabajà is arguably the more complex and long-lasting of the two, even if their Asili can be more winning (particularly in youth). As densely constructed and structurally imposing as it is, however, the fruit remains stunningly vibrant and pure—a testament to Roberto’s deeply felt and intuitive touch with extraction and tannin management.

Barbaresco Riserva: Produced exclusively from old plantings in the Bas-Rabajà vineyard, Luisin’s Barbaresco Riserva spends three and a half years in large Slavonian casks, which allows the wine—an even more powerfully structured voicing of Nebbiolo than the Rabajà above, as befitting the cru’s character—to develop even greater depth and nuance. Given its site of origin and its lengthy 90-day maceration, this demands some patience in the cellar.

Coming Soon

Print This Page Print This Page