2017 Barolo, San Lorenzo, Fratelli Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy
About this WINE
A moment’s reflection is required before understanding the wines of Fratelli Alessandria: all the estate’s vines (except their cru Gramolere) are in the commune of Verduno. Not usually bracketed with the more familiar and renowned communes of La Morra, Barolo, Serralunga, Castiglione Falletto and so on, the village sits on the north-eastern border of the region. It’s almost more of an extension of neighbouring Roero. Its soils are sandier, and there’s a moderating influence from the Tanaro river, running below the village. All this adds up to a lighter, more delicate and perfumed style of Barolo – of which Fratelli Alessandria are brilliant exponents. Today, Vittore Alessandria runs the immaculate traditional cellar, while his brother Ale tends the 14 hectares of vineyards.
The breezier conditions in Verduno reduced the risk of mildew in 2018 and Vittore professed himself very happy with the quality of the vintage. Indeed, the style of the year, with its softer angles and greater accent of red fruits, would seem to be tailor-made for Verduno’s more Pinot-esque aspect. The surprise, then, is that the wines from the village seem to have a surprising extra level of depth and positivity but without quite losing their talcum ethereality. The Gramolere however, from Monforte, is a different beast, pure but strongly herbal. After the precocity of 2017, timings were back to normal with an early October harvest.
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.
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