Red, Ready, but will keep

2008 Barbaresco, Olek Bondonio, Piedmont

2008 Barbaresco, Olek Bondonio, Piedmont

Red | Ready, but will keep | Olek Bondonio | Code:  10478 | 2008 | Italy > Piedmont > Barbaresco | Nebbiolo | Full Bodied, Dry | 14.0 % alcohol

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The Producer

Olek Bondonio

Olek Bondonio

Olek Bondonio is quite at home on the steep slopes that surround his brand new Barbaresco cantina, having been a champion snowboarder in his youth. It’s an historic family estate that he’s been visiting ever since he’s been a child. Raised in Torino, holidays in the Langhe, his name & the refreshing directness of his language points to Polish ancestry mixed with a healthy dose of Italian. Olek’s no ordinary contadino (farmer) then. Prior to taking on the small 3.5ha property, & on leaving wine-school in 1993, he wisely travelled the world seeking experience in Australia, New Zealand & then Bordeaux.

The wine estate is perched close to the Tre Stelle frazione of Barbaresco, is currently planted with of Grignolino, Pelaverga, Dolcetto, Barbera & Nebbiolo grapes, with the emphasis switching more towards to Nebbiolo. He’s blessed with vines in the fine Barbaresco vineyards of Straderi, Roncaglie, & Roncaglietta; the latter facing a perfect west overlooking Alba & controversially labelled ‘Sori Tildin’ by his more famous neighbour. He makes a Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbaresco &, depending on the quality of the vintage, Barbaresco Roncaglietta.

2005 saw the inaugural vintage, all two thousand bottles. Olek favours the small size of estate as it allows him to single-handedly work the vines & make the wines. Viticulture is essentially organic while the approach in the tiny cantina is traditional, fermenting in large cement tanks followed by ageing in slavonian Gamba & Stockinger (Austrian) botte grande; all in a scrupulously clean environment (something he did learn about in Bordeaux!). The wines are traditionally framed while boasting sweet ripe fruit

The Grape

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.

A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.

Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.

Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.

The Region

Barbaresco

The Piedmontese DOCG zone of Barbaresco is responsible for producing some of Italy’s finest wines. It occupies the same region and uses the same grape (Nebbiolo) as its bigger brother Barolo, but is a third of the size (only 640 hectares versus Barolo’s 1,700 hectares). It is also 50 years younger than Barolo, having produced wine labelled Barbaresco since 1890.

Barbaresco earned its DOCG after Barolo in 1980, largely thanks to the efforts of Angelo Gaja. The soils are lighter here than in Barolo – both in colour and weight – and more calcareous. The slopes are also less favourably situated and (relatively speaking) yield earlier-maturing yet extremely elegant wines that require less oak ageing (normally one year in oak plus six months in bottle). The appellation’s key districts are Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive and Alba.

Recommended producers: Cigliuti, Gaja, Marchesi di Gresy

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