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Barolo Boys Take Two

December 18, 2019

Bordeaux and Burgundy, step aside – the biggest, boldest B of the year, with two sold out Masterclasses hosted by ‘the Barolo Boys’ and an expression that is frequently chosen on our wine list is the mighty Barolo. These two events hosted by our Italian sommeliers, Nelson and Federico, guide Members through these gems of Piedmont.

We can see why – named ‘the king of wine’, these wines can be incredibly good value for money, and beautifully expressive of their terroir. With a third event in the diary for February that will undoubtedly be a sell-out, we read Federico’s story of the last tasting…

After the second Barolo masterclass took place with Nelson and I, it turned out to be that the most appreciated areas were Monforte D’Alba and Serralunga.

Let’s investigate the reasons behind this: 

  • why they were appreciated  
  • how the terroir affects the Barolos
  • the approach of the winemaker

2006 Ferdinando Principiano, Barolo, Boscareto – Serralunga D’Alba

2011 Chiara Boschis, Mosconi – Monforte D’Alba 

2014 Reva, Barolo – Monforte D’Alba 

2008 Silvano Bolmida Barolo, Bussia – Monforte D’Alba 

When a wine is appreciated, it means that it needs to create an emotion to the person who is drinking it, it needs to be easy to understand, it has to show complexity but at the same time the elements, such as tannins, acidity and aroma all need to work together.

Although these wines come from different areas and Crus, different vintages and producers were showing their characteristics at their best.

Monforte D’Alba Vs. Serralunga D’Alba 

Located in the Southeast part of Barolo town, Monforte is the homeland of great wines. It’s a territory which offers greatest variation in both morphology and in altitude levels.

Directly facing the hillsides of Serralunga D’Alba, showing a particular type of soil, among all the eleven townships in Barolo this is the only one that includes all three of the principal geological formations:

Sandstone, Lequio and fossils – marl soils within the southeast exposure of vineyards make it a perfect spot for Nebbiolo grapes giving the wines softer tannins, feeling silkier in texture, approachable in youth but with great ageing potential.

Unlike Monforte, the area of Serralunga is located in the eastern part of the Barolo production area and always been considered one of the most important, described as austere and close in youth but with an excellent expression of complexity and elegance with time. Homeland of the best Crus like Francia, Vigna Rionda, Lazzarito and Falletto and of course Boscareto.

It’s like a long ridgeline, divided into two opposite slopes eastern and western facing.

All the characteristics mentioned above are reflected in the wines:

2006 Ferdinando Principiano, Barolo, Boscareto – Serralunga D’Alba 

Fernando was trained from the best like Giuseppe Rinaldi and Roberto Voerzio , a modernist who decided to come back to his roots as a traditionalist. No new oak is used, ensuring the perfect recipe to make a wine with 20 years ageing potential. This wine already shows complexity, elegance and firm tannins with tertiary aromas like tar, leather, truffle and undergrowth for which Serralunga is famous for.

2011 Chiara Boschis, Mosconi – Monforte D’Alba 

Mosconi single vineyard is the oldest vineyard of the Chiara Boschis winery – let’s call it the Vieilles Vignes of Monforte D’Alba and the oldest soil in the area, containing a mix of marl limestone and clay. In some areas, the high presence of Calcium Carbonate and iron gives the wine that beautiful warm purple colour, almost leaning towards pink.

The 400 mt altitude is felt in the wine, by giving freshness and structure and the perfect balance for an early approach, or for cellar ageing.

The wine is solid, silky and with notes of ripe fruit, along with spicy notes such as cloves. Vanilla is also evident, from the use of small barriques of new French oak – the French oak that makes this style of this Barolo is referred to as Traditionalist.

Extreme Styles of Barolo 

2014 Reva, Barolo – Monforte D’Alba 
2008 Silvano Bolmida Barolo, Bussia – Monforte D’Alba 

These last wines were made from the guys who break the rules in Barolo:

2014 Reva, Barolo – Monforte D’Alba 

Reva winery, with the help of a young but experienced winemaker Gianluca Colombo, makes a wine that veers off piste from what we expect from Barolo.

Here, we find the most elegant and fresh and palest in colour wines that can be made from this grape, using the highest altitude from the Monforte D’alba terroir.

Earlier harvest, short maceration, no oak involved combined with the talented Gianluca makes a wine that reminded us during our trip of a feminine and gentle expression of Burgundy wine, almost a Chambolle Musigny.

From one extreme to another, from Reva to Silvano Bolmida, from young to old, from no oak to oak, from short maceration to long maceration…

2008 Silvano Bolmida Barolo, Bussia – Monforte D’Alba 

Silvano is a great man, a big character and also our friend. He is the guy who sleeps in the vineyard, he doesn’t go on holiday because he has to look after his vines.

It’s not just that however, he respects them and their soil by using a completely organic and natural approach, no chemical pesticides are used. Silvano developed, with the help of the University of Turin, a natural system based on herbs coming from around the world to protect the soil and the vines from diseases. Sulphur Dioxide is replaced by using just the natural chemical elements developed by the wine during fermentation and ageing in oak, with obsessive and carefully control.

It’s a richer wine, definitely more extracted and fuller in body compared to other Barolos in the area. They have a more pronounce aroma, but the wines are also complex – definitely a wine that needs time in the bottle to settle and become balanced.

The third edition of the Barolo Boys takes place in February 2020.

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