From the department of “still catching up on last year’s wines”…
Above: Pian Romualdo is a historic cru of Monforte where Barbera trumps Nebbiolo. It’s arguably the best expression of Barbera d’Alba (an appellation where Barbera always takes a backseat to Nebbiolo). Ferdinando’s vines are roughly sixty years old. This wine was incredible.
One of the most thrilling tastings of my 2012 was at the Principiano winery, grower and producer of old school Barolo and historic Barbera in Monforte d’Alba.
Ferdinando’s about my age (mid 40s). His father, he told me, was primarily interested in selling their superb fruit to marquee name bottlers (Prunotto among the most famous). While he made wine, it was never his passion.
Above: This was another highlight for me. In my notes, I wrote “tannic but still so drinkable… rich fruit but there’s a lightness in body that makes it rise up.” Boscareto (or Bosco Areto) is often compared to Francia (as in Cascina Francia) because it lies adjacent to the more celebrated cru. The difference is that I can afford this one.
Ferdinando began making wine there in the 1990s. And after he spent some time flirting wine modern-style Nebbiolo (at the peak of the late 90s Langa boom), he settled into old-school, traditional-style wines by the early 2000s (thank goodness for that!).
Looking back at my notes this morning, I find that “brilliant” and “freshness” reappeared over and over again, a characteristic that Ferdinando attributes (in part) to extremely low sulfuring, which he only applies at bottling.
But beyond Ferdinando’s minimalist approach, it is the fruit, sourced exclusively from his family’s historic vineyards, that is the star here.
I was completely taken with the elegant earthiness and technicolor fruit of these wines.
Above: This was my number-one stand-out. Keep in mind, it’s not Ravera from the village of Novello but rather Ravera from Monforte. It was the most “gentle” of his Barolo, I wrote in my notes. Made from the oldest vineyard in the family’s holdings, “it’s what we used to drink at home” in his father’s day, said Ferdinando.
But the most amazing thing about these wines is how extremely affordable they are (including the Barbera Romualda).
I can’t think of a better expression of Barolo, in terms of price and typicity, whether for a middle-class collector like me or someone who is trying to learn about classic Nebbiolo for the first time.
I love, love, love these wines… a Barolo answer to my beloved Produttori del Barbaresco in terms of their classic expression and affordability.