This is always one of the most difficult things i have to do each year. Sit down and try to figure out who the Winery of the year be?
I'm never going to please everybody, or most of the people even, but I try and select someone, or some winery that does two things. The first is to produce wines that I really like. Ha! Sorry about that but in this case I am the arbiter of good taste, or what passes for it.
So far our wineries of the year have been:
2010 - Lange Estate
2011 - Talty
The second, and equally important aspect of the selection process is simple. These great wines have to be offered to consumers at fair and affordable prices. Our Winery of the Year 2013 satisfies both requirements completely. In fact pricing is in part why I’m choosing this year’s winery of the year. You see the prices for these wines are going up. Not quickly, but steadily, and while still in the realm of affordability for many people I think the top wines, which are already pushing $60 a bottle, will soon be even more.
Not too long ago these wines were under $50 a bottle, and along with several other great producers, Produttori del Barbaresco and Simon Bize spring to mind, a string of ridiculous values has garnered the attention of those in the know. Great values become simply great wines, so with today’s choice of Winery of the Year I hope to turn you on to a great value that for me is one of the world’s truly iconic wines.
In truth I’ve wanted to name Commendatore G.B. Burlotto as winery of the year since I first through of the idea. If I had we'd be talking about lower prices for sure, but even with the delay Burlotto still produces terrific wines are fabulous prices. Consider the line-up.
Barolo from the famed Cannubi vineyard, and it’s the lowest priced Cannubi on the market. Barolo Monvigliero, an iconic wine and one of the greatest expressions of terroir and classic winemaking left in the marketplace. The full portfolio of Piedmontese varieties, all expertly produced and offered for about $20 a bottle or less.
Barolo Cannubi $65 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barolo-cannubi-2009/
Barolo Monvigliero $60 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barolo-monvigliero-2009/
Barolo Acclini $55 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barolo-acclivi-2009/
Barolo $50 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-barolo-docg-2009/
Langhe Nebbiolo $22 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-nebbiolo-langhe-2011-1/
Barbera d’Alba Aves $25 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barbera-dalba-aves-2011/
Barebra d’Alba $20 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barbera-dalba-2011/
Dolcetto d’Alba $20 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-dolcetto-dalba-2011/
Langhe Freisa $24 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-langhe-freisa-2011-1/
Verduno Pelaverga $20 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-verduno-pelaverga-2012/
Roasto Elatis $20 http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-rosato-elatis-2012/
Dives sauvignon Blanc http://www.snooth.com/wine/dives-langhe-burlotto-2010/
Of course this is not Value Winery of the Year we’re talking about, it’s plain old Winery of the Year and for that you have to produce wines of quality and distinction and Fabio Alessandria does a wonderful job on that front, using a mix of techniques and resources to produce what he feels are the finest expressions his vineyards are capable of.
What does that mean exactly? In the case of Barolo we have a variety of styles. From the classic foot treading and 60 day maceration practiced with Monvigliero, and Neirane when it was made to a more updated 15 day fermentation, always in upright wood fermenters for the other wines. The choice of wood, larger formats of either 3 to 5 hectoliters or 35 hectoliters that are mostly now in French oak, also shows a willingness to adopt what is best for the wines. There is no dogma here.
What’s best for the wines in the case of Burlotto can be summed up in few words. These are wines that are bright, supple, aromatic and precise. Fabio isn’t reaching, or pushing the wines to do something they would rather not do. More than a winemaker he is a tour guide, showing off his cellar to the product of each vintage. It is naive to suggest that some wines do not show winemaking, they all show winemaking but in the case of Burlotto the signs are relatively subtle.
Nowhere is this more obvious than with the for lack of a better term, ‘lesser’ varieties. Dolcetto and Barbera in particular have been victims of excessive winemaking in Piedmont for years, and are only now coming out from under these veneer. Truth be told even here chez Burlotto there is a modern wine, the Barbera Aves. Fabio plays a bit with lower yields, riper fruit, and perhaps unexpectedly small format French oak with his Aves, a wine I have admired but have never preferred to Burlotto’s classic Barbera d’Alba.
It is the expressions of these classic varieties, vesty and pure, perfumed and showing such beautiful typicity that really seals the deal for me. It should not be heard to make great $60 wine, even in barolo, but for $20 you’d have a hard time finding better Freisa or Dolcetto, Barbera or best of all Verduno’s own Pelaverga. These are all zesty wines, but the Pelaverga is so emblematic of Verduno, and like the region with a long history but mostly ignored by enthusiasts and writers alike until very recently, that I can’t help but have a soft spot for it. In truth though the Burlotto Barbera and Nebbiolo d’Alba are the wines I most often reach for at this price point.
Like Verduno, G.B. Burlotto has a long history stretching back to the middle of the 18th century and in some circles is most famous to this day for being the sole provider of wine to the 1899 -1900 Polar Expedition by the Duke of Abruzzo. Looking back Burlotto has always been a bit of a pioneer, and a renegade, being among the first to bottle their wines, from vineyards in Cannubi and Monvigliero. The also were among the first to recognize the quality of their own Pelaverga decades before it became a popular if obscure variety.
This sort of risk taking and leadership continues to this day at Burlotto, even if it is hidden under a gauze of calculation and caution. Burlotto remains a family run business of modest size producing about 60,000 bottles a year. It's tough to make sudden or significant changes when your family relies on such a small production and this has worked to Burlotto’s advantage. Whatever changes have been implemented over the years have been gradual and well thought out, not in pursuit of fad or points for that matter, though it is inarguable that today’s Burlotto wines have never been better.
In some ways it is easy to overlook these wines. they are elegant and built on balance and freshness, never power. They may not wine competitions or large scaled comparative tastings, because that’s not their milieu. These are wines to be enjoyed with food and friends, or with either. They satisfy on a very basic and visceral level. They are pretty in a world where wines are expected to be more. But they don’t need to be, and these wines are proof.
For my money these are some of the finest, most consistent, most captivating, and frankly delicious wines available today at the respective price points. When I drink these wines they make me happy and not just in an intellectual or hedonistic way. No they hit all of my happy buttons and put a smile on my face. What more could one ask for?
Yes there are wines that may be better, but they are most certainly more expensive and in truth few are better than a well aged bottle of Burlotto’s Monvigliero. Time may prove me right, and if it does we can look on these days fondly and reminisce about the days when Burlotto Monvigliero was such a great value. Will you be joining me?
One final note here before I leave with some tasting notes. I wrote about about a well aged bottle of Monvigliero. It should be mentioned that one of the great things about Burlotto’s wines is that you don’t have to wait forever for them to come around. they might go through a grumpy phase, as most great wines are prone to do, some 5 to 10 years after the vintage but in general Burlotto’s wines, being so elegant and well balanced, tend to shut down later and open sooner than many similar wines. It’s an added advantage that makes enjoying Burlotto’s wines that much easier to do.
2009<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barolo-cannubi-2009/>> - All limestone, tobacco, and incense on the nose with late arriving dried herb stems, and rose petals. Relatively open on entry then this tightens up considerably though it does reveal nice kernel of fruit, elegant, smoky, taut fruit with hints of watermelon freshness supported by super tannins, love the cut of these tannins. The finish shows great persistence and clarity to the fruit, but the tannins continue to be impressive, so ripe, well integrated, and yet firm. 93pts
2008<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-2008-1/>> - This exhibits a classic nose featuring cherries in alcohol with hints of cocoa, spices, rose petal, balsamic, ash and roasted herb notes. On entry, this is tense, nervy and taut with fine red cherry fruit, plenty of ripe tannins and good supporting acids lending great freshness. This is classic, lean Cannubi with crisp tannins on the finish, low fruit, savory nuances, and lovely chalky/soil-driven length. 92pts
2007 <<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-2007/>> Nebbiolo Prima - Burlotto Vigneto Cannubi Barolo - sweet red fruit, nettles, sandy soil, bright and aromatic, more green with air, cool up front, nice weight, good tension in the mouth, nice herbal tinged red berry fruit, a bit savory, nice savory tannins, nice finish, good lift, nice herb and mineral tones a touch of heat 8/10
2006<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-2006-1/>> - Wonderfully aromatic already with precise raspberry fruit framed by hints of campfire, saffron, baked clay and a slight underbrush tone. In the mouth this is crystal clear with a lean yet very precise feel to the candied red raspberry flavors. The structure is very finely balanced and the tannins are perfectly ripe leading to a fine, long taut finish. An excellent wine in the making 91-94pts
2005<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-2005/>> - Deep and dark on the nose with fruit, heather, dried grass and hints of grilled meats, cinnamon and green anise seed adding great detail. In the mouth this is very classic Barolo with clear acids and assertive if polished tannins supporting the slightly leathery, bright amarena cherry tinged fruit. Fine balance and great length but this is really a bit tight at this point 91pts
2004 <<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-2004/>>- 100% Lampia clone from vines averaging 20 years old. 15 days maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Aged 10 months in small, 3-5 HL, French oak barrels where Malolactic fermentation takes place. Aged an additional 20 months in botte. Slightly liquory fruit at first with a touch of fresh sawdust on the nose then turning very sweetly fruited and expressive with handfuls of freshly picked aromatic herbs, sandy soil tones, bright spicy red fruits, ever so jammy currants, sharp notes of dry, white soil, beautifully perfumed. A powerful yet elegant expression in the mouth with great structural balance that support a rich core of red fruits with a subtle medicinal edge. Very aromatic in the mouth with almost spearminty sweet herbs, dark spice notes and an edge of fennel. This offers up an impressive core of sweet-tart wild cherry fruit that shines brightly on the finish accentuated by subtle fennel seed and bitter cherry pit tones. Classic Barolo in need of 5-7 years in the cellar 93pts.
1996 <<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-barolo-vigneto-cannubi-1996/>> - Simply wonderful aromatics that ranged from lilacs, to seared cherry, hot rocks, to roses, orange peel, earth and spice all around a core of sweet red fruit. In the mouth there is superb balance with succulent mineral notes and clear, if fairly rich and quite tannic, faceted fruit. The fruit grows in the glass revealing exceptional intensity and purity with significant upside potential. 93pts
2009<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/burlotto-g-b-comm-barolo-monvigliero-2009/>> - This has a hugely aromatic nose that explodes with savory, tapenade, thyme, light geranium notes, followed by a spicy truffle precursor and rich, dark fruit. This is fairly ripe, packed with soft abundant tannins and integrated acidity, this will be ready quite early. The fruit here freshens up on the backend showing a little ripe strawberry, strawberry seeds, building with great intensity and clarity on the backend and showing great brilliance on the finish. 93pts
2008<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-2008/>> - Very herbal on the nose with tapenade aromas that are more thyme-driven than olive at the moment, all accented by a dusting of cinnamon and really lovely strawberry fruit. This could be called lush if it wasn’t so nervy, with juicy acidity and super fine tannins supporting wonderfully crisp strawberry fruit. Topped with a hint of truffle, some spice notes and a touch of tropical fruit. It’s wonderfully transparent in the mouth, firming up with a bit of air and offering great lift on the back end and the long, pure finish. 93pts
2006<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-2006/>> - The nose here is very complex with rich notes of olive tapenade, thyme, dried meat, ginseng, dried herbs, rosehips, rose petals and a touch of leather. On entry this is light and bright with huge inner-mouth perfumes. It’s very finely balanced with an elegant, suave feeling. The fruit has an edge of liquory richness and hints of medicinal herbs adding complexity but the rush of wild berry fruit on the mid-palate extends right through the long finish with big acids helping to extend the fruity finish. Really gorgeous wine. 93pts
2005<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-2005/>> - Leathery and slightly bretty on the nose with a deep gamy element that contrasts against the sweet dark fruits of the nose Notes of olive brine, mortadella and carnations emerge from the glass with air. Soft and suave in the mouth with a rich core of spiced fruit supported by great acids that keep this taut and tense. Great camphor tinged cherry fruit in the mouth conceals a bed of ripe tannins. A very well balanced 2005. 93pts
2004<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-2004/>> - Olives and spicy green middle eastern tones immediately greated the nose with this wine and were joined by notes of hung game, moist tobacco and sweet, candied root, angelica root tones after several hours of air. This was initially quite bitter and beef bloody with lots of candied raspberry fruit tones that gradually added some vegetal, cucumber like notes and a very big flourish of fresh green herbs that set up the palate for this green/red fruit tension that was very intriguing and lead to a crisp clean finish with some subtle pignoli nut bitterness. After several hours air the big herbal element remained as did a very quinine like medicinal tone that framed the red fruits. The mouthfeel remained both zesty and polished and I appreciated the great complexity and sneaky finish but this is a very distinctive Barolo, something I applaud. 91pts
2000<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-2000-1/>> - Crazy! What a fine nose with confiture fruits, huge herbs, sweet and almost candied/dried fruit tone dates and dried cherry but still moist and fresh. Slight tobacco, more black olive brine than olives, leather, sweet licorice, intense and complex and gaining a purity to the block olive notes with each passing moment. A bit loose at first, perhaps too hot for Monvigliero though this remains elegant and caressing with fine fruit and a pitched mineral tone that makes it seem fresher than perhaps it is. The backdrop to the fruit is very licorice and very tannic but the tannins are gentle, quite earthy and slightly leathery. The fruit has a prune plum quality that is very ripe but still fresh. This is deceptively easy to drink with a lovely cocoa note on the really fresh finish My only complaint is that this could use a bit more acid but none-the-less this is an unsung hero of Barolo. This should be an icon! It is such an individual expression of Barolo yet is so completely and thoroughly Barolo. Every Barolo love needs to try these wines. Superb! 95pts
1995<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/gb-burlotto-barolo-monvigliero-1995/>> - Intense notes of incense and candlewax immediately emerge from the glass joined by dark, smoky, slightly jammy fruits with complicating notes of fish sauce, underbrush, tapenade, thyme and olive oil. In the mouth he tannins are delicate and light if abundant giving the wine a velvety texture. The rosehip and wild cherry fruit is framed by vitamin like mineral notes and a wonderful inner mouth perfume of roses and tapenade. Still youthful this is emerging from its shell and has a very promising future. 93pts.
1989<<http://www.snooth.com/wine/barolo-vigneto-monvigliero-1989/>> - This smelled quite bloody at first, down right like an abattoir but with incredibly sweet spearmint, sassafras and sautéed mushroom notes that were deeply embedded in the gamy, slightly roasted, meat core of dark berry and dried fig fruit. On the palate this had a brilliant texture with bright acids balanced by a blanket of superb, soft tannins. The dark fruit presented itself with great precision possessing a lovely sweetness matched by the complex, layered notes of dried herbs, earth, tobacco and salted capers that drove through the long, powerful finish. 2009-2030 93pts
2009 - Lightly green on the nose in a very fresh way, with hints of lightly toasty leather, dried orange rind and fresh camphor laced wild rainier cherry fruit. The fruit is quite full here but it is super fresh with the sweetness of the vintage and yet it retains a fabulous clarity. Elegant and refined, this is a gorgeous 09 with exceptional inner mouth perfumes, fine ripe yet firm tannins, and a long finish rich with a hint of orange rind accenting long delicate strawberry fruit, with just a bit of heat on the finish. 92pts
2008 - This is really soil-driven on the nose and turns quite sweet, with finessed raspberry fruit accented by hints of rose petal, a little quinine, red apple skin and bit of herb. In the mouth, this is round and very lively on the mid-palate. Vertical acids, ripe tannins and a savory core of woodsy herb notes support woodsy red currant fruit. This then turns darker and more licorice-toned on the rich finish. Good power, lovely ripeness to the tannins, almost ready today. 91pts
2007 - Burlotto Accivi Veduno - nettle and herbs, a bit of stone, some ripe amarena cherry fruit, shy nose, a bit flat up front but then nicely focused in the mouth with ripe amarena cherry fruit on the palate, a bit simple, nice ripe tannins, nice fruit on the moderate finish, a bit short, 7/10
2006 - A lovely nose of floral tones with savory hints of oregano, olive oil and sundried tomato. In the mouth his is sapid and round with soft tannins and sweet fruit on the palate with hints of fresh green herbs adding detail. The wine is still very tight but well balanced with strawberry fruits and fine, well proportioned structure. 88-90pts
2005 - Balsamic on the nose with complex aromas of church candle, bay leaf, chalk and wild berry fruits. Nervous with fine-grained tannins in the mouth that frame slightly spice sweet red fruit notes. The feel is wonderfully fresh in the mouth and strikingly transparent though one could wish for a bit more richness to the fruit. 89pts
2004 - A blend of their three finest vineyards, Monvigliero, Neirane, and Rocche dell’Olmo. 15 days maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 30 months in botti. Intense ripe fruits greet the nose, red fruits with a slightly musky tone, pomegranate, menthol and a subtle dried fruit tone all add to the mix. Really develops fine complexity with emerging tones of dried strawberry, dried mushroom, a bit of calcium and fine women’s perfume. A bit weighty, like plush hanging drapes with folds and pleats to the dark core of fruit. The fine acidity keeps things bright in the mouth and the balanced tannins support the layered palate which features notes of earth, faded Middle Eastern spices, licorice and floral tones. Finishes very tight with taut red fruits leading to an earthy finale with notes of walnut and dried mushroom adding interest. 92pts
2009 - Tight and lightly herbal on the spicy, rather focused nose that gives up a little white soil and green herb note over fine tight red fruit aromas. This is immediately transparent and crisp, in the mouth with lovely tannins, integrated acidity supporting fresh red fruits in a rather vibrant and clear style for the vintage. It is is still on the fruity side but with firm acids and a touch of heat on the finish. A very nice expression of the vintage. 89pts
2008 - Lovely herbal and balsamic top notes over wild raspberry fruit with hints of dusty earth and rose stem on this perfumed nose. This is wonderfully bright and tense on entry with juicy fruit that shows lovely purity and finesse. Transparent up front with a nice load of vivid raspberry fruit. Amarena cherry on the back end is accented by a hint of white earth ash and nice savory tannins, which underpin it all. A great introduction to Barolo. 90pts
2006 - Liquory on the nose with a medicinal, herbal edge to the smoky, wild red berry fruit and gentle soil tones. Smells feminine and slightly perfumy. On entry this is quite soft and elegant with a lush feel and low-ish acidity. The fruit is a nice combination of stemmy herbal tones and cherry pit fruit. The backend shows building power and a more velvety feel but the finish is short, if full of fruity sweetness. A bit unevolved but with a nice balanced and perfumed character. 91pts
2004 - Opens with a whiff of tar, which is followed by very pure fruit notes and a strong balsam edge that highlights the herbal qualities of the nose. Fine open rose notes emerge but then the aromatics draw back a bit. Fresh and crisp with great tannins framing the medium weight here, really fine balance, precise. Dark fruits but still feeling very fresh, perhaps a bit closed but very pure expression of Nebbiolo with red fruits, rose petals, green herb and slight menthol tones that lead to a cleansing precise finish. The wine is consistent from nose to finish but feels a bit folded in on itself. Seemingly a textbook base Barolo but in need of3- 5 years in the cellar. 90pts
1996 - The bright aromatic of this wine are full of heather, licorice, smoke, olive brine and menthol notes but the fruit is still a bit reticent. In the mouth one finds superbly fine-grained tannins that are powerful but balanced by notes of white clay, leather and incipient dark raspberry fruits. This offers beautiful precision but remains a bit tight and coy on the palate. I like where this is going though and the aromatics hint that we are almost there.. 92pts
1995 - This opens like a remarkable example of Cote Rotie with notes of olives, flowers, red raspberry fruit and an undertone of dried strawberry. With air notes of tar and tobacco emerge and add complexity. In the mouth this is somewhat small scaled but with great focus in a smooth, medium full bodies style with supple wild cherry fruit and light spice tones on the mid-palate that yield to notes of citron and strawberry on the finish. A very fine bottle at maturity with a balanced yet fleshy feel 91pts
2011 - Very aromatic with intense aromas of cherries in alcohol, pickled watermelon, mint and fresh rye bread with a gently smoky top note. Light jammy raspberry fruit greets the palate with a bit of a soft, broad feel. This lacks the nervous energy of previous vintages but delivers rich, soft fresh and deep fruit, with nice earthy top notes all supported by very Nebbiolo tannins. The finish is long and lovely with fine persistence to the fruit. A happy, round and supple Nebbiolo. 89pts
2010 - Low aromas of wild cherry liqueur with a nice woodsy edge to the aromas, that are earthy, twiggy, and herbal. Round and fleshy in the mouth with easy fruit, nice framing tannins that a bit tough on the back end though this good length and nice acid it does come off as a bit plodding and missing fruit on the backend. Time might help. 86pts
2008 - Very herbal on the nose with great fresh tones of fresh strawberry tops and gravelly mineral tones. Astringent and bracing smelling, like an aftershave should. Smooth on entry with absolutely velvety tannins on the palate that gives this medium-bodied wine real mouth presence. This offers up orange rind, rosehip, and dusty cherry fruit on the mid-palate with brilliant precision. It is wonderfully pure and complete and yet all about the fruit draped transparently over clear soil tones. The finish is a touch short but otherwise this is great stuff. 90pts
2007 - Fresh and herbal on the nose with a sandy underlay and suggestions of briary wood and wildflowers adding detail. Huge acidity in the mouth is followed by a wave of fruit and perfectly ripe tannins. The midpalate is laced with minerality that adds cut and definition to the wild cherry and watermelon fruit that gains some pomegranate depth on the back end. This finishes strongly with excellent length and an almost salty, mineral finale. 91pts
2006 - Completely unusual nose. Reticent at first with a sandy, dried herbal edge to the roasted deep cherry in alcohol/cherry confiture tone, with background notes of candy apples. Gains a lot of complexity with wooly and meaty flesh notes with a roast edge to it, yet remaining fresh and clean. This borders on profound with time. Rigid and erect on entry yet deceptively deep with full flavors of light red berries and airy spice tones that recall caraway seeds and dried herbs de Provence. Wonderfully precise structure with stemmy tannins that keep this fresh and crisp, very well integrated acidity. Great structure lacks some complexity at first but this gains over the course of the evening offering up real Nebbiolo fruit tones in a flannelly soft and rich package. Has the elegance of a grand dame. Barbaresco weigh 92pts
Barbera d’Alba Aves
2011 - Aged in a 50hl barrrel Woodsy aromas greet the nose where there is a nice base spice tone, a touch of oyster shells, very pretty slow to emerge violet notes and very clear berry fruit. This is rich, broad and broad in the mouth with a nice tang to the acids. the palate shows great cut to the lovely black fruit, clear though broad shouldered in the mouth with some wood tannins on the finish, this is elegant and powerful and probably will be better in a year or two. 89pts
2010 - Darker and more mineral and balsamic than the Barbera d’Alba with a little rosehip, accenting a core of black fruit. Bright on entry, and even a bit weighty with obvious richness to the plummy fruit. The mid-palate has a bit of a matte feel though it turns fresher on the backend and through the raspberry finish which has a lingering edge of sweetness. This is both richer and less elegant than the base bottling. 88pts
2008 - Lacks a bit of freshness on the nose, with a bit of wood spice and raw wood tones with a really intense rose top note. Lush and sexy on the palate with a velvety feel to the dense but not heavy mid-palate that is full of rich, dark flavors. The fruit is a bit jammy, dark cherry tones, and framed with spicy wood tones. The wood contributes some tannin on the finish as well. While this is in many ways the equal of the classico Barbera, I prefer that wine. 88pts
2006 - This comes from a select parcel of the vineyard that offers a better exposition yielding grapes that are a bit riper. Yields are kept a bit lower here as well to add to the richness of the wine. 10 day maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 10 months in wood, half in barrique and half in 30 HL botti. The percentage of new wood varies as barriques are replaced as needed. A bit smoky on the nose but packed with dark fruit. There is an obvious touch of chocolaty oak with some toasted cookie/toasted coconut notes as well so some of the wood was recently replaced. This is well balanced and certainly has more impact across the midpalate than the regular Barbera but there are super acids here and they keep everything lively. The pure, deep, spicy fruit is enlivened by the acidity and while there is a bit of cheek-grabbing tannin here it is unobtrusive. Not the most complex wine but the wood spice tones do add a bit to the ever so jammy black berry fruits. Eminently likeable and while the tannin does creep in around the edges the acid offer great pushback and leads to a touch of mulberry on the finish. 92pts
2011 - Almost 6 grams of acidity Lovely floral spice pops on the precise nose which shows off precise aromas of fresh fruit that are quite high tned. Perhaps a touch soft on the palate this exhibits lovely clarity with black fruit that is just a touch roasted. The acidity appears later on the palate lending an elegance here and cleansing the palate. This turns into a bit of fruit bomb, not in a pejorative way but this is bursting with juicy black berry, fruit and black plum flavors that linger on the long black fruited finish. 88pts
2010 - This is really aromatic with sour plum, charcoal earth, dusty earth, a little cedar, wild raspberry, licorice, and forest floor aromas. Totally impressive on the nose and brilliantly open and clear on the palate with a lovely fruit that shows a roundness to the edges but no loss of tension. The acidity is bright yet integrated, offering good cut on the palate and lifting the perfumed fruit through the tangy, gently floral finish. A classic Barbera. 92pts
2007 - Huge, soaring aromatics are captured here with note of cold earth, pollen, wild animale notes and slightly spicy notes of black-fruited hard candy. In the mouth this is perfectly proportioned with deep, lively fruit a hint of round tannin and snappy acids. The finish is dominated by the acids but with excellent length and reverb. Super Barbera. 90pts
2006 - 10 day maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 10 months in botte. This offers intense and focused notes of black fruit and moist earth that are so typical of Barbera. With time notes of rose petals, sweet spices, and a touch of forest fruits add to the perfume. Elegant with lovely balance in the mouth one finds very lovely balance here with fine acid serving like the frame of a kite supporting a sheen of transparent fruit, no need for tannin here. This is easy to like with pure black raspberry fruit and subtle notes of black spices and rosemary adding interest. The finish is classic Barbera, bracing with cleansing acids offering great precision to the spread of black cherry fruit. Maybe a bit simple but broad and with good length. 90pts
Dolcetto d’Alba $20
2009 - This is a bit reticent on the nose with a dusty mineral character and gentle herbal suggestions floating above the taut blackberry fruit. In the mouth this has laser focus for Dolcetto, with the acidity corralling the fruit and driving the black, lightly spicy fruit into a long finish that shows a gentle herbal top note on the finale. 90pts
2006 - 1 week maceration in tini, temperature controlled to retain freshness and aromatics, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by ageing, half in stainless and half in botte for several months depending on the vintage. Lovely floral tones soar from the glass, big violets then some dark coal, mineral notes, black earth, black cherry builds into lovely rich deep, dark fruits with background notes of sweet, tropical flowers but they never obscure the depth of fruit. At first this appears lean and elegant in the mouth but quickly adds impressive density with strong structural elements that make this both chewy and bright. This retain great freshness to the palate that offers up great inner mouth perfume of cocoa, sweet spices, floral and red berry notes but is a bit blocky at this point. It finishes with impressive follow through and good purity so it looks like it may need some time to relax a bit in the mouth. 89pts
2011 - Tons of raspberry fruit greets the nose here along with intense aromas of slightly smoky, meaty herb notes, almost like rose stems along with hints of chocolate and orange oil. There's a nice richness on entry here with early powdery tannins adding a bit of texture to the palate which shows fine clarity with black raspberry flavors and a touch of bramble that lingers on the long, orange and raspberry toned finish. 90pts
2010 - Dark, liquory fruit on the nose is full of forest floor and lightly pepper middle eastern spice and sandalwood aromas. On entry this is bright with lovely fruit up front, tightening on the midpalate with some fine grained tannins and scrub brush resiny notes along the long, if slightly chewy finish. This is king of foxy and musky in the mouth with hints of grapevine smoke accenting rather dark berry fruit. This succulent and complex and more texturally challenging version of Freisa than I’ve had in a long. 91pts
2008 - The spicy nose is a sea of tea, tobacco, sweet wood, pink peppercorn, briary sandlewood and dark berry fruit. Dense on the palate with drying tannin and a chewy, woodsy feel. The tannins are really spiky in the mouth and punctuate the clay soil toned mid-palate which is full of spicy, burnt raisin, and slightly cocoa tones. The finish shows some nutty tannin before turning clean and bracing with notes of wild raspberry and sweet plum jam. A bit rustic in some ways but rather compelling. 89pts
2007 - Lightly smoky on the nose with an exotic boysenberry coulis note that is countered by dark aromatic spice roots and a hint of leafy geranium. The mouthfeel is both transparent and mouthcoating with a hint of bitterness on the mid-palate. The tannins are pretty big but ripe enough that they already begin to melt away on the finish, which is tarry and spiced with floral tones that compliment the dark plummy red fruits. This is better on the nose at this point. 86pts
2006 - 1 week maceration in tini, very variable elevage due to vintage character and quantities produced. Averages 3500 btls so usually fit only in smaller vessels. Vines were planted in 200, 2004 was the first vintage. Offers a bit of a winemaking challenge as this tends very heavily towards reduction. A bit reticent on the nose but with time opens to reveal earthy, red berry fruit with a slight confiture edge, a bit flat but does add a touch of spice with time. The palate is full of contrasts, the texture is light and bright with clean acids and a touch of stiff tannin yet the flavors are dark and tarry. This shows a touch of bitterness and leans towards the savory end of the spectrum with notes of blue slate, bresaola, and old wood. Finishes with solid intensity of flavor and reveals a core of Ranier cherry fruit but ends on a very brisk note with austere tannins on the finale accentuating the slight bitterness of the wine. This would be better served with food. 86pts
2011 - Gently spicy on the nose and a little compact with aromas of white pepper, thyme, and a mineral sweetness, Rather ripe on entry with dusty tannins. In the mouth this is austere and almost severe with a short, peppery, rhone like finish. There’s a lovely core of red currant fruit and hints of strawberry waiting to come out and play, and this has fantastic tension in the mouth on the finish, with air bringing out a small rose petal, chamomile, and incense notes. Tight today. 89pts
2010 - Very pretty on the nose with fragrant aromas of small red berry fruit, raspberry, slightly sweet candied tones, a little balsamic oregano, green peppercorn, then some spice behind a little cherry coke note. Really impressively aromatic today. the mouth is full of bright acids, fresh and nervous, with, small if edgy tannins. This was recently bottled and has a bit of a compressed feel though ti shows nice length and an attractive rusty mineral and spice note accenting the raspberry fruit on the moderately long finish. 89pts
2009 - Huge herb stem and peppercorn nose with a touch of ginger and brambly rosebush tones on the nose. In the mouth this is rich and bright with plenty of crisp tannins over wild strawberry fruit with mineral water and woodsy herb tones in the background. It really shows a nice peppery top note to the red fruit and remains beautifully vibrant through the long finish, which is packed with oily herb tones and wild cherry fruit. 91pts
2008 - Aromatics are intense and deep with penetrating, minerally focus that carries over to the palate. Cranberry fruit on the palate is paired with the intense minerality giving this a downright steely quality but it does lack some of the intensity of the 2007. 86pts
2007 - 1 week maceration in tini, temperature controlled to retain freshness and aromatics, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by three months in botte. Intensely herbal on the nose at first this slowly segues into layers of mineral, thyme, cherry juice and spice that lean heavily towards white pepper. A lighter weight wine yet with some tough tannins keeping things wrapped a bit tightly, good balance with soft acidity. The flavors build in intensity with notes of spicy wild red berries and light gamey meat notes playing off each other. Notes of mahogany and herb add some interest on the back end and lead to a long, fresh, slightly peppery finish that is cleansing and ends on a brisk note of raspberry fruit. 90pts