After a quick flight from JFK to Milano I arrived to an unseasonable warm Barolo. With clear skies in every direction it was one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen in the region. I am on a very fast tour with Empson Imports to Piemonte and Tuscany to visit Barolo and Brunello producers, taste new vintages and check out the vineyards.
Our first stop was Conterno-Fantino in Monforte d'Alba. The family has owned vineyards in the region since the late 1800's but only began to produce their own wine in 1980. The house is very modern with the wines spending time in new French barrique but the wines hold on to their elegance and innate Nebbiolo uniqueness. As a staunch lover of traditional Barolo I was happily surprised by the two wines above. The 1986 Vigna del Gris was elegant, pure, with vibrant acidity and nuanced flavors of spice, leather, dried roses and earth. The 1996 Sori Ginestra showed off this great vintage with its depth, power and brilliant acidity. The new vintage of 2008 (which will not be released until late Spring) were rich, full in body, tannic and need time. As expected the oak is very primary in the wines but I feel that this vintage is going to surprise many people (It had gotten a mediocre initial review by much of the press, but I see it as a more classic vintage versus the lush and easy 2007). Though modern wine making techniques tend not to be my preferred style Conterno-Fantino produces well balanced, well structured wines that show off oak but do not hide the beauty of Nebbiolo.
Walking the Le Serra vineyard with Luisa Marcarini Marchetti
Our second stop for the day was in the bucolic village of La Morra to see Marcarini, an exact opposite from Conterno-Fantino in style. The Marcarini family has been growing grapes in the region since the late 1700's but did not produce their first commercial vintage until 1958. Their initial release was the very first wine from Barolo to have the vineyard, Brunate, written on the label!
Marcarini's style is defined by the photo above - TRADITIONAL! The wines of Marcarini are textbook studies on traditional wines from La Morra - floral, expressive and elegant. The houses two crus - Brunate and La Serra are unique and extremely different, even though they are only 500 meters apart. The 2008 vintages shows the differences in a perfect light. La Serra is wafting, caressing, and pretty while Brunate is brooding, dark, and firm. Each wine is pure and so true to Nebbiolo I highly recommend trying this wines to experience tradition at its best.
Here is one more picture to define a great start to my trip...though at this point I had not slept in over 24 hours...it was worth it.