Fontanafredda: The Tradition Continues

Fontanafredda is one of the oldest wineries in  Piedmont, dating back about 160 years.  I visited the winery some years ago and wrote my first blog ever about a tasting of Fontanafredda Barolo in NYC.

About a week ago, Fontanafredda held their “2020 Press Tour”at Manzo Restaurant in Eataly Flatiron in New York.   In 2008 Oscar Farinetti, owner of the Eataly chain and other wineries, purchased the Fontanafredda winery.

Chiara and Giorgio

The speaker was Giorgio Lavagna, and the translator was Chiara Destefanis from the winery. Giorgio began working at Fontanafredda in 2014 and in 2018 he became Technical Director and Chief Winemaker.

The 250 acre Fontanafredda property is located in Serralunga (a cru site for Barolo). It is the single largest contiguous wine estate in the Langhe. In 2018 they became the largest certified organic company in Piedmont.

The wines

Alta Langa DOCG Contessa Rosa Rosé Spumante Metodo Classico 2012 made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with the addition of Barolo 1967. The soil is white clay alternated with layers of sand and calcareous marl.

Giorgio said a new method has been undertaken for this cuvee using a liqueur d’expedition with 1967 Barolo. Part of the Pinot Noir is left on the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12 to 24 hours. After maceration there is a soft pressing. The must ferments in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature and when the fermentation is complete, the wine is kept on the lees until spring. The cuvee is created, uniting the wines from the two fermentation processes. In May the wine undergoes a second fermentation process in the bottle, followed by a period of 48 months of maturing in contact with the yeast, in the cellars. The wine has hints of orange, ginger and pomegranate with very nice bubbles

The 5,000 acres cultivated with Nebbiolo for Barolo are divided into Menzione Geografica Aggiuntival (MGA), the equivalent of “cru.” Fontanafredda is the only 100% MGA winery owned by a single producer.

Barolo DOCG del Comune di Serralunga D’Alba 2015 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. Fermentation is for 15 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must stays in contact with the skins for another 15 days. Aging is in barriques mostly used and 2000 liter barrels from Allier. After a soft clarification, the wine is bottled for a further period of maturation in the bottle for not less then 12 months. Giorgio said 2015 was a truly great vintage. He described the wine as being dry and tannic with a velvety texture and great balance. Serralunga has the typical notes of vanilla, spices, roses and underbrush, trademark of the soil of Serralunga. This was the first single village Barolo produced (1988).    Chiara added that the stripes on the label mimic the striped design- of the buildings within the Fontanafredda Village.

Barolo DOCG Fontanafredda “Proprietà Fontanafredda” 2013 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this plot of land is the border between soils of Helvetian and Tortonian origin. It is a soil with transitional characteristics, clayey marls alternated with layers of sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The new wine stays in contact with the grape marc for about a month. Aging is in medium and large oak barrels for two years and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, violets, and a note of licorice.

Giorgio said this was an “old style” vintage because the harvest took place 15 days later than any vintage in the last 10 years because of a cool and rainy spring. The wine is suited for aging.

Pasta: Agnolotti del Plin- Housemade Pasta Filled with Pork and Veal, Sugo d’Arrosto. This is a typical pasta from the Langhe

Barolo DOCG “Vigna La Rosa” 2011 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this 20 acre vineyard is one of the most prestigious on the estate. The rows face south, southwest to form an amphitheater, where the heat makes the berries mature perfectly. The soil is rich in sand mixed with limestone and the typical blue marl of Serralunga. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and ferment in heated condition stainless steel tanks at 28-30C. The wine is in contact with the skins and maceration lasts for about one month. Aging is oak Allier barrels, 50% new for about 12 months and then racked into oak casks of 2,000 and 3,000 liters for one year. The wine is bottled and released after one year. The wine hints of red fruit, violets and a touch of spice and tar.

Giorgio said 2011 was an unconventional vintage and the right moment for picking the grapes was most important.

Barolo DOCG Vigna La Rosa 1996 100% Nebbiolo.  I said 1996 was one of the last great vintages. Chiara added that in the beginning it was not looked upon as a great vintage. Giorgio answered it was a vintage for those that like old style Barolo.

He also mentioned 1978 and 1971 as great vintages but there were fewer great vintages back then. So in general the wines are better now because of global warming and improved wine making techniques (fermentation in stainless steel etc).

This was the wine of the tasting — classic Barolo with hints of red fruit, mushrooms, tobacco, licorice, tea and a note of violets. This wine will last. Looking back on my blog from 2012 the Vigna La Rosa 1989 and 1982 were my favorites.

With it we had Bistecca del Macellaio-Grilled Hanger Steak with Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Villa Manodori Aceto Balsamico, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt

Barolo DOCG Riserva 2010 made from 100% Nebbiolo The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. The vineyard is at 300 to 400 meters and the exposure is south/south-west. The training method is guyot. There are 4,400 plants per hectare and harvest is in the beginning of October. Traditional fermentation: 12 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must is in contact with the skins for 25 to 30 days. The wine is aged for 3 years in oak from Allier and Slavonia. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 24 month before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas.

Barolo 2000 DOCG Riserva 2000 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Fermentation is for 15 days. The wine is aged for one year in barriques from Allier and 2 two years in 2,000 liter Allier oak casks. After a soft clarification the wine is bottled for at least 24 months before release.The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas. Chiara said this was the first single vineyard (cru) Barolo ever produced (1964).  There was some controversy over the 2000 vintage, some producers said it was too warm a vintage and others said it was a very good vintage.

Giorgio said that the winery is using fewer barriques than in the past and I am glad to see that they are returning to a more traditional style of winemaking.

 

 

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Filed under Barolo, Fantanafredda, Method Classico, Spumante

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