Category Archives: Barolo
Michele Chiarlo’s first vintage was in 1958 and he has been with Kobrand, his importer and distributor for 40 years. In honor of their association Michele brought a 1978 Barolo to a special truffle dinner and tasting event at New York’s Restaurant Casa L’Apicii.
The speakers were Michele and his son Stefano, the wine maker.
Michele spoke about his years as a producer and the changes that took place in Italian wine. At first it was difficult it was to sell his wine, especially Barbera, in foreign markets. Buyers all wanted to know tif he made Lambrusco!
He said he went to Burgundy to learn because they were more advanced in their wine making techniques. He met with other Barolo producers to discuss how they could improve their wines. But it was not until the 1980’s with temperature controlled fermentation and the hype that was generated about Italian wines during that time that Italian wine started to receive the recognition it deserved.
He said his is a family owned and run winery and there are no blends or international varietals produced. Their smallest oak cask in 700 liters. They now have 110 hectares of vineyards between the Langhe, Monferrato and Gavi.
Michele said Tenuta La Court was acquired in 1995. It is a single parcel of over 20 hectares located on two hills, a size which makes La Court one of the most important in Monferrato. The vineyards which can have the ‘Nizza’ designation are limited to 18 municipalities in Monferrato. The vineyards, which have positions with great exposure (from southeast to southwest), have low yields of 70 quintals per hectare and lie on soils designated astiane sands, consisting of calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in microelements, in particular magnesium.
Barbera “Cipressi” Nizza DOCG 2015 100% Barbara from the Tenuta La Court vineyard. The vineyard is 6 ha at 230 to 280 meters and the vines are of different ages. The training method is guyot and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare and harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks, 10/12 days of maceration with the skins and a soft shower system of wetting the cap with initial temperature of 30 degrees C then to 27 degrees C. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine ages for a minimum of 18 months: 12 months in large oak casks and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit, with hints of cherry and raspberry and a note of tobacco.
Barbera d’Asti Superiore “La Court” Nizza DOCG 2013 100% Barbera from a 3-hectare vineyard. The exposure is south/south east at 240 meters. Very low yield. Thinning of excess bunches at the end of the summer, leaving an average of 5/6 bunches per vine. Fermentation is for 15 days in 55 hl oak vats with the skins. Malolactic vat fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for a minimum of 30 months depending on the vintage. 50% in casks and 50% in large barrels for one year, the wine remains in bottle until release.
This is an intense and elegant wine with hints of black cherry with a touch of coffee and cocoa and a pleasing finish and long aftertaste.
He also said the La Court Cru is part of the V.I.V.A. Sustainable Wine project.
Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG” La Court” Nizza 2011 The wine has hints of black cherry and spice. Stefano said like 2015 the weather was hot, dry and sunny making it a great Barbera vintage.
Stefano said the Cerequio vineyard is between La Mora and Barolo. It is one of the most prestige vineyards in the zone for Nebbiolo. They have nine hectares of vineyards , about 6 of which ere acquired in 1988 from an estate which had been cultivating Nebbiolo grapes for over two centuries without interruption. The oldest parcel is from 1972 and the smallest 0.9 ha, they make Barolo Cerequio Riserva. Stefano said the soils here are among the most ancient in the Langhe, formed during the Tortanian period (9 million years ago). It is composed calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin characterized by a basic pH, poor in organic matter, but rich in microelements such as magnesium and manganese.
Barolo “Cerequio” 2013. Stefano called this the “use to be” vintage because they picked late like they did in the past. It is a wine that will last for many years. The vineyard is 3 ha and the exposure is south/southwest at 329 meters. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in 55hl oak vats for 20 days. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 2 years in average-sized oak casks and one year in bottle before release. This is a young complex wine with hints of mature fruit, mint and spice with a touch of tea.
1997 The wine is still showing a lot fruit but now has hits of violets, tobacco, balsamic and a touch of tar. This is the wine to drink now and I enjoyed ever drop of it!!
Barbera d’ Asti “Le Orme” 16 Months DOCG 2015 a selection from several vineyards in the South Aegean, with especially from the vineyards of Montemareto in Castelnuovo Calcea, La Serra in Montaldo Scarampi and Cosra della Momache ad Agliano. The soil is light colored, rich in lime and microelements. Training system is guyot, low set cordon spur. Harvest is manual. Minimum of 16 months refinement before it is released. This is an elegant wine with fresh mature fruit with hints of cherry, currants and a touch of violet and good acidity. I tasted the wine and was very impressed. it reminded of Barbera that I had when I first came to Piedmont in 1982. It is a wine to drink now and very food friendly.
Barolo Tortoniano DOCG 2013 The exposure is south-east/south-west and the training system is guyot. The manual harvest is preceded by summer thinning of excess bunches of grapes. Fermentation is in steel tanks with the skins, and a soft shower system of wetting the cap at a temperature between 32C/27. Malolactic fermentation is in steel tanks. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 24 months in average sized oak barrels and then in bottle. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of roses, juniper berries, spice and a hint of tobacco.
Moscato d’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2017 100% White Moscato vineyards are in the historical area most suited for Moscato Bianco. The soil is of sedimentary marine orogon, white and sandy. Training system is guyot and the exposure is south-east/southwest. Manual harvest. There is a soft pressing of the entire grape and the must is stored in a tank at 2C followed by a slow fermentation in an autoclave at a controlled temperature until a 5% alcohol level is achieved. During this process, a part of the carbon dioxide developed during fermentation remains entrapped, giving the wine its mild, natural effervescence. Before bottling, the wine undergoes a process of microfiltration to give the wine its clarity, purity and to stop and further fermentation of the yeasts. This is a wine with hints of subtle tropical fruit and apricot with a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste.
Hazelnut parfait with an almond cream and cocoa
The first celebration took place at the Oriental Gardens restaurant in New York Cities China Town
Then a fried sole with scallions.
1979 Chinon excellent
There was more food and wine but I got caught up in the eating and drinking.
A young man waiting for his pizza
Buratta with arugula
Spaghetti with sea urchin (ricci di Mare) was fantastic
Barolo 1989 – barolo at its best 1989 was a great vintage!
A number of years ago I was at Vinitaly and stopped by the stand of the wine negociant Barbara De Rham and tasted a number of wines under the De Rham label. One of them was a Barolo. I was so impressed with it that I asked Barbara for the name of the producer. It was Giacomo Fenocchio. At the time I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and I added this wine to our wine list.
Last November, I was able to visit the winery for the first time. We were greeted at the winery by the winemaker/owner Claudio Fenocchio. The winery is in the Loc. Bussia-Monforte D’Alba.
Claudio said the estate was founded in 1894 and has been handed down from father to son for over 5 generations. It was Claudio’s father Giacomo who expanded the vineyards and started selling wine to foreign markets. Today 20 hectares are under vines and Claudio and his brothers Albino and Alberto export almost 80% of the production.
All of the wines are made from the estates vineyards located in Bussia in Montorte d’Alba, the Villero sub zone of Castiglione Falletto and Cannubi in Barolo. All are Grand Cru vineyards.
Claudio’s great-great grandfather Giovanni Fenocchio said “everyone makes wine in the same way, because this is how it should be made, it is not up to us to change an entire method and culture” and the winery maintains this philosophy today. Claudio said that their Barolo has a lengthy period of skin contact, never less then 10 days, and rotary fermentation tanks are not used. There are no shortcuts. Fermentation is completely natural and is entirely carried out by the local micro-flora, without the use of selected yeast. Temperature is kept under control by means of daily pumping over the skin cap.
He said that he was thinking of using molded agglomerated corks instead of natural cork for his wines. These corks allow the wine to breathe and they have different numbers indicating the amount of air that is allowed into the wine. This is not the first time I have seen these corks in Piedmont.
Roero Arneis DOCG 100% Arneis from Monteu Roero. The vineyard is 1.5 hectares at 300 to 350 meters, exposure is southeast, the soil is calcareous clay of medium texture, the age of the vines are 10 to 15 years and the harvest is in the middle of September.
The grapes are gently pressed and then the wine must is refrigerated in stainless steel vats to allow the lees to settle. After 24 to 36 hours the juice is separated from the lees and fermented at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. It is soft and complex with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of chamomile.
Langhe Freisa DOC 100% Freisa, Monforte d’Alba-Bussia zone. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares at 300 meters. Exposure is west, the soil is Elveziano with clayey sediments, blue marl and tufa. The age of the vineyard is 10 years. Harvest is in early October. Traditional fermentation of the grapes takes place in contact with the skin, without adding yeast, for about 10 to12 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in Slavonian oak. It has an intense bouquet with good fruit and a touch of spice.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 100% Nebbiolo. Monforte d’Alba- Sottozone Bussia. The one hectare vineyard faces east and it at 300 meters. The vines are 15 years old and the soil is Elveziano with clay sediments blue marl and tufa. Harvest is in the middle of October. Vinification and aging same as above with maturation in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry and plum with liquorice and roses.
Barolo Bussia 2011 100% Nebbiolo varieties Michet and Lampia. Monforte d’Alba-Sottozone Bussia. From a 5 hectares vineyard facing south/southwest at 300 meters. The soil is Helvetian with clayey and calcareous sediments, rich in iron. The vines are 30 years old.
Tradition natural fermentation without added yeasts for 40 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 6 months. in stainless steel tanks and 30 months in large Slavonian casks 35 to 50 hl. It remains in the bottle a time before release. This is a classic Barolo with hints of spice, licorice, roses, tar and tea.
Barolo Bussia Riserva 2012 100% Nebbiolo-barrel sample.Claudio stared doing 90 days of maceration with the 2010 vintage. This is very rare in Piedmont today and I am not sure if any other producers do this.
I have always been an admirer of the wines of Beppe Colla. I had been to the winery before and was very happy to have the opportunity to visit it again when I visited Alba recently.
The Colla family’s connection with wine goes back to 1703, but the modern era begins when Beppe Colla purchased the Alfred Prunotto winery in 1956. Beppe owned the winery for 35 years and made it into one of the most renowned wineries in Piedmont.
Beppe’s younger brother Ernesto, called Tino, worked with him at Prunotto. Beppe was not feeling well when we visited, but Tino was able to show us around.
Tino is a gifted winemaker in his own right and worked very closely with his brother at Prunotto.
In 1994 Tino and his niece Federica (Beppe’s daughter) opened a new winery and so Poderi Colla was established.
As we were walking through the vineyards Tino said that the winery comprises three farms covering a total of 26 hectares of vineyards: Cascine Drago in Alba, Tenuta Roncaglia in Barbaresco and Dardi le Rose in Monforte.
Tino explained his wine philosophy. The key words are naturalness and originality, wines made without manipulation or invasive intervention. He feels the wines have a connection with the past and we must learn from the past, often using methods that his grandfather taught him. He pointed to the stainless steel tanks, which were all outside. No air conditioning for Tino.
At one point in the walk we stopped at a small house. The owner, a truffle hunter, heard his hunting dogs barking and came out to chat. Tino asked him to show us some of the truffles he had discovered. Some were very large and the aroma was wonderful. Most would be sold to nearby restaurants, he told us.
The walk was a true education.
Vintage Spumante Metodo Classico Extra Brut “Pietro Colla” made from Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Tino said this is in line with Piedmontese tradition dating back to the early 1900’s and with the traditions of his grandfather, Pietro, for whom the wine is named. It is fermented and matured in the bottle for about 2 years before dégorgement, ouillage with the same wine without the addition of liqueur d’expédition. The wine is bone dry, with a rich bouquet, complex and elegant at the same time. Tino said it is a wine that could be served throughout the meal.
Langhe DOC Riesling 100% Riesling from vines in Alba planted in 1987 with a Northwest exposure at 350 meters and in Barbaresco, planted in 2009 with a western exposure at 240 meters. There are about 4,000 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested between September 10th and 25th. The grapes are immediately soft crushed at 8/10 C for 24 hours. After racking, alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. The wine is left on the lees for a few months, before being naturally cooled in winter. The wine is bottled in the spring. It is a complex wine with full citrus flavors and aroma, hints of mountain flowers and fresh acidity. Tino said it is a wine that can age.
Barbera D’Alba DOC “Costa Bruna” 2013 100% Barbera. Vineyard planted in 1930 and 1995, about half of the vineyard contains the old vines. The new vines are a selection of the old vine’s understock. The grapes are hand picked and immediately destalked and crushed, maceration on the skins is for 10 to 12 days. Malolatic fermentation is completed before winter. Elevage in oak casks lasts about 12 months. This is an intense wine with hints of strawberry, cherry and spice and nice acidity.
Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC 100% Nebbiolo. The exposure is westerly and easterly and the vineyard is between 330 and 370 meters. The vines were planted in 1967, 1989 and 1999 and there are about 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is the 1st-10th October. Vinification is the same as above. Elevage is in Slavonian oak casks for about 12 months. This is a complex wine with hints of plum, red berries, dried roses and a touch of violet.
Barbaresco “Roncaglie” 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard is at 244 and 280 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The vines were planted in 1970,1980,1995 and 2010 and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are handed picked from October 5th to 15th The grapes are destalked and crushed and maceration is for 12 to 15 days, then malolactic fermentation is completed before winter. In the spring the wine is put into oak casks for 12 to 14 months. This is a classic Barbaresco with hints of blackberry, violet and spice and a touch of rose petal.
Barolo “Bussia Dardi Le Rose” DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is vinified like the Barbaresco but is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.
Campo Romano Langhe Pinot Noir. Tino said the vines were planted in 1977 from vines imported from Burgundy. In the field when the ground was being ploughed they found remains of a Roman settlement, hence the name. The exposure is westerly, at 330 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is September 10 to 20th and the hand picked grapes are immediately destalked crushed. Maceration is for 8 to 10 days followed by malolactic fermentation completed before winter. The wine rests in oak casks for 12 months. This is a balanced and elegant wine with hints of red fruit and floral notes.
Bricco del Drago made from 85% Dolcetto and 15% Nebbiolo. Tino said the wine was first produced in 1969 when Dott. Degiacomi, former proprietor of Cascine Drago, which produced an unusual Dolcetto requiring barrel aging, decided to combine it with a small portion of Nebbiolo, naming it after the estate. Vines were planted in 1970,1989 and 2,000 and there are about 5,000 plants per hectare. Dolcetto is harvested from September 20th to the 30th and the Nebbiolo from October 1st to 10. The varieties are vinified separately and maturation takes place at different times. The wines are assembled and then undergo élevage in oak. Maceration is for 5 to 8 days for Dolcetto and 10 to 12 days for the Nebbiolo. Aging for 12 to 18 months depending on the vintage. We tasted a number of wines going back to 1995, a wine that was showing no signs of age. I was very impressed with all of the vintages we tasted.
One of the highlights of our trip to Piedmont last November was an invitation from Luciana Currado to her home for dinner. It was special not only because of the Vietti wines and that Luciana is a wonderful cook, but also because she is a very dear friend
We first met Luciana and her husband Alfredo in the fall of 1982. It was our first time in Piedmont and my only itinerary was to visit as many wine producers as possible. We were on our way to Monforte d’Alba when Michele saw the sign for Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery.
Before we had left home, Sheldon Wasserman, a friend and Italian wine expert and writer, told us to be sure to visit this winery not only because they made great wines, but because Alfredo and Luciana were such nice people. We arrived at the gate of the winery and I rang the bell. A man appeared and I said in Italian siamo amici di Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. He turned and shouted to his wife: “Luciana, Luciana, friends of Sheldon and Pauline are here!”
They invited us into their home to meet the whole family and we drank Moscato d’Asti with cornmeal cookies and had a wonderful time. When we got back to the hotel there was a message waiting for us. Alfredo and Luciana were taking us to dinner that night and they would not take no for an answer. So began a wonderful friendship and many adventures with this wonderful couple both in Piedmont and NYC that lasted until Alfredo’s death about five years ago.
Roero Arneis DOCG 2014 100% Arneis. The vineyards are 25 years old and are located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Srefano Roero. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested , pressed and clarified, then alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at a low temperature to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. Because there is no malolactic fermentation acidity and freshness are preserved. The wine remains in stainless steel until bottling. It is a well balanced wine that has hints of citrus and melon with a touch of almond and crisp acidity. It was fitting to start with the Arneis as Alfredo has been called “the father of Arneis” because in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly lost variety.
Barolo Ravera 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo from the Ravera vineyard, 2.7 hectares in Novello. The vines are 5 to 60 years old and the exposure is southwest and the soil is calcareous-clay. The wine is in stainless steel vats, 5 of which are in cold pre-fermentation maceration. Alcoholic fermentation takes place and then a long post-fermentation maceration at a controlled temperature. There is daily air pumping over using the old system called “submerged cap.” There is slow malolactic fermentation in large casks almost until the end of spring. The wine stays more then a year on the lees and the C02 produced during the malolactic fermentation is a reductive environment without sulfur. The wine is aged for 32 months in Slovenian oak casks and bottled unfiltered in July 2013. It has hints of roses, red fruit and spice. Needs time to open up and will only get better with age.
Barolo Brunate 1996 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Morra located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines at the time were about 23 years old and cultivated with the guyot system. The soil is calcareous. Grapes are gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 23 days. Daily open air pumping over takes place using the old system of the submerged cap. Malolactic fermentation is in oak barrels. The wine, I believe, back in 1996 was aged for 32 months in large Slovenian oak casks. This is a balanced wine with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry, plum, violets and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish. !996 was a great vintage for Barolo and this is a great wine.
The night before the dinner with Luciana we were in Alba and went to the Vincafe. As I looked at the case with the older wine I saw a bottle of Vietti Barbera d’Asti “La Crena”1996 and I just had to order it. This single vineyard in Agliano d’Asti was planted in 1932 with 4,800 plants per hectare. The must rests for 21 days in stainless steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. There are 2 to 3 daily fullages in the electro pneumatically system, “délestage” and numerous air pumping overs. Immediately after the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels and big Slovenian oak casks for 16 months. Then it is assembled in steel tanks until it is bottled unfiltered. This is a Barbera that was showing no signs of age with mature fruit, hints of raspberry and cherry a touch of spice and good acidity.
Alfredo and Luciana’s son Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great wine making family. Gambero Rosso not only gave a three glasses award to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but also named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.
Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less than one hectare with south/southwest exposure. Soil is clay and compact with white and blue marlstone. The average age of the vines is 39 years and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. After alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, which lasts for 16 days, the wine macerates on the skin for ten days. The wine was transferred into small barrels for the malolactic fermentation. Then it was aged in Slovenian oak casks of 27 hl and bottled unfiltered in September 2010. It is classical Barolo at its best with dark fruit flavors and aromas, hints of leather, tobacco and spice.
Tony Di Dio of Tony Dio Selections first introduced me to Tiziana Settimo of the Aurelio Settimo winery when he invited me to a tasting and dinner a few years ago. Tony told me that it is a very traditional winery and he thought I would like their wines. He was right.
The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piedmont in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows. They sold off almost all their grapes. When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards. At first they continued to sell 50% of their grapes but in 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.
Every time I see Tiziana she makes it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio. They only use natural cork for the wines. She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She feels that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character.
Dolcetto D’Alba 2014 DOC 100% Dolcetto Exposure is east, the soil is calcareous. Harvest is by hand. There is a short fermentation on the skins, with submerged cap for 7 days and frequent pumping over of the must. Malolactic is in concrete and it is aged in concrete for 6 months and 3 months in bottle before release. It has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with notes of violet and almonds.
Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 DOC 100% Nebbiolo Tiziana explained that this wine is produced from grapes grown from younger vineyards facing south-east, the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. The maximum yield of 8,00kg is also the same. Compared to the Barolo it under goes on shorter maceration ( 7days) on the skins and is aged I concrete tanks for 46 months. It is normally ready to drink without needing to age. It has hints of blackberries, raspberries, liquorice and a touch of violets.
Barolo “Rocche dell’Annunziata” 2010 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia) The exposure is south, southwest, the soil is calcareous and the harvest is by hand. Fermentation takes place on the skins for 15 to 20 days with submerged cap, with frequent breaking up of the cap and pumping over the must, followed by maturing in oak casks of 2,500 and 3,500 liters. Malolactic is in concrete. Aging is for 24 months in big oak casks. The age of barrels is 10 to 15 years and they are French oak, Allier and Nevers, and the barrels are not toasted. The wine in aged in bottle (natural cork) for at least 6 months before release. This is an elegant and full-bodied wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.
Barolo “Riserva Rocche” 2004 100% Nebbiolo (Lambia) Aged for 36 months in big oak casks and 12 months in bottle before release. It can age for 20 to 25 years. The wine has hints of spice, liquorice, red fruit and a touch of truffle and is drinking very well.
Tiziana invited us to lunch at Osteria Veglio.
Tiziana’s wine was an excellent accompaniment with the food.