When you mention Santo Stefano, the first wine that comes to mind is one of the greatest wines ever produced: Bruno Giacosa’s Nebbiolo della Langa Albese, which he produced for many years. But few remember that the entire Santo Stefano property (8 hectares, of which 6.72 are planted with Nebbiolo and just over 1 hectare of Barbera) is owned by the Stupino brothers, owners of the Castello di Neive winery, a beautiful estate, known for its Roero Arneis, Dolcetto d’Alba Basarin, and their fantastic Barbaresco Santo Stefano.
Castello di Neive first produced its Barbaresco Santo Stefano in 1967. 24,000 bottles were produced from the 2004 harvest, a great vintage.
Some call Santo Stefano a “magic vineyard”: southern exposure, 270 meters a.s.l., calcareous marl subsoil, vines 30-40 years old, planted mostly with Nebbiolo Lampia and a reasonable amount of Nebbiolo Rosé. The grapes were picked in October, maceration and fermentation lasted 15 to 20 days. Fermentation was carried out in stainless-steel fermenters with automatic punching down of the cap. The wine was aged in 30-50 hectolitre oak casks and then in bottle for at least 6 months before release.
I tasted the wine in London in December 2007 and made the following tasting notes:
Color of medium intensity. The bouquet is very particular and fascinating: cocoa powder, dried roses, aromatic herbs, licorice, tobacco, and talc. Great freshness, lively, vibrant, fleshy fruit, solid tannins, great structure, large, full of energy, very satisfying, with a long finish. A great Nebbiolo expression, a true vin de terroir! Good aging potential: buy and lay down in your cellar!
— Franco Ziliani