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Serafino Rivella, Barbaresco Montestefano, 2019


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It’s easy to understand the excitement. Serafino Rivello’s wines bring together two elements that we love: tradition and terroir.

The terroir is Montestefano, the great Cru in the commune of Barbaresco where Teobalda and Marta Rivella grow 100% of their Nebbiolo. The Cru is special because its vineyards point straight south and there is a concentration of limestone in the soils that is higher than anywhere else in Barbaresco. The result is dark and brooding Barbaresco that is long lived and easy to mistake for Barolo.

The tradition is pure Piedmont, to the point that one noted UK wine professional once said: “imagine if Maria-Theresa Mascarello [of Bartolo Mascarello] made Barbaresco, it would taste like that!”. There are long macerations, Mascarello-style, followed by up to 40 months of aging in huge neutral casks. His neighbors are releasing their 2020s. Rivella is on 2019.

Add to tradition and terroir one final ingredient: laser focus. They make only two wines, a Dolcetto, and today’s Barbaresco – all from vines that were planted around 60 years ago.

The 2019 is definitely Rivella’s best wine since 2016, and maybe ever (as the vines continue to age and the Rivellas refine their techniques). It is a wine of power, for sure, but also great breed and finesse. Cellaring is definitely recommended.

Every time we write up Serafino Rivella we ask ourselves, will this be the last time? Our allocation seems to shrink every year, and while less acclaimed vintages like 2017 and 2018 have managed to keep the party going for a while longer, this year we have wine from the very-much acclaimed 2019, until next year.


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Cantina Serafino Rivella consists of a husband and wife, Toebaldo and Maria Rivella, and that’s it. When they step into the garden behind their house they find themselves in one of the greatest places on earth for the Nebbiolo grape: Montestefano, in Barbaresco.

Teobaldo’s father planted this vineyard in this cru in 1963, and they have been making Barbaresco from it ever since. Aside from a little Dolcetto, it’s all they’ve ever made.

The winemaking is so unchanged that Galloni offers them as a link to Piedmont’s history. Others have described Rivella as the Bartolo Mascarello of Barbaresco. But with hardly any wine to offer, they’ve stayed under the radar.

Montestefano is known for its dark and brooding wines. It faces south and has more calcium in its soils thany any other Barbaresco cru. It is the cru that can most easily be mistaken for Barolo.

What importer Polaner Selections has to say about this wine...

Sourced from the Montestefano Cru in the commune of Barbaresco.
The soil is almost one solid meter of limestone with veined tufo beneath.
Old vines - were planted in 1963. Hand harvested. Practicing organic.
Traditional fermentation followed by submerged cap maceration.
Aged 34 months in neutral botti followed by six months in the bottle.


  • Grape Variety


  • Vintage


  • Size


  • Farming Practice


  • Sweetness


  • Body

    Full Bodied

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