2016 Cascina Luisin Barbaresco "Rabajà", Piedmont, Italy


Rare, small batch Cru Barbaresco from the brooding and broad-shouldered Rabaja vineyard. Bright cherry notes with underbrush and menthol notes. Wonderful tannic structure to this wine -- it will explode with character and flavor with a good decant.

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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.


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.


Vintage 2016
Producer Cascina Luisin
Wine Type Red Wine
Grape(s) Nebbiolo
Appellation Barbaresco
Region Piedmont
Country Italy
Farming Organic