Italy’s Greatest Wine Region?
The home of Barolo, Barbaresco and so many of Italy's most celebrated and sought after bottles, the Langhe has so much to offer. Here are just a few that are our current obsession. Fratelli Alessandria Langhe Favorita 2017 The strictly delimited land of the Barolo DOCG is presently so valuable that Nebbiolo (the only grape allowed in a bottle of Barolo) is taking over in spots that would have formerly been considered too cool for such a late-ripening sun-craving cultivar. Fratelli Alessandria owns a significant portion of one of Barolo's most celebrated and sought after crus, Monvigliero, but their holdings there are not entirely planted to Nebbiolo. The terrain of Monvigliero is far from uniform, and there are spots that are much more suited to a white grape like Favorita (the local clone of a grape also known as Vermentino) than Nebbiolo. Alessandria's Favorita is planted on east and west facing slopes of Monvigliero, where the sun either appears too late or disappears too early for Nebbiolo to ripen to delectable perfection with any kind of regularity. Needless to say, a Favorita does not demand the same high price as a Monvigliero designated Barolo. Accountants may frown, but sommeliers can rejoice! Alessandria's 2017 Favorita is an exuberant little wonder, full of fresh white and yellow fruits and subtle herbal and floral tones. Ripe and juicy, it turns dry and stony on the finish, making it a great choice for an aperitivo or with all sorts of seafood. Cantina del Pino Dolcetto d'Alba 2016 You're going to hear a similar story to that told above: this wine comes from a famous vineyard, but that famous vineyard cannot be mentioned because the wrong grape is planted. Cantina del Pino owns several plots in the Ovello cru of Barbaresco, and two of them are planted to Dolcetto. Their Ovello designated Barbaresco is their most expensive wine, and for good reason, it is one of the region's finest. Their Dolcetto d'Alba, sourced entirely from Ovello and it is simply gorgeous. One might consider it an excellent alternative to good Pinot Noir: light and refreshing, bursting with red fruit flavors framed by hints of licorice and rosehips, exhibiting a purity and persistence belying its humble price. This is one of our most popular red wines; if you haven't tried it yet, you're really missing out! Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga 'Speziale' 2017 We typically try to feature four different growers at our tastings, but goodness... we LOVE these guys, so you'll get to try two delicious wines from the extraordinarily talented team at Fratelli Alessandria. Pelaverga Picollo is a rare cultivar found exclusively in the Verduno commune of Barolo. It is known for its intensely spicy bouquet, with a particularly prominent note of white pepper considered to be emblematic. Fragrant and spicy as usual, Fratelli Alessandria's 2017 Speziale is a bit fruitier and juicier than the 2016 that so many of you fell in love with. Look for notes of red berries, roses, wild herbs and, of course, white pepper. It'll be fun to play with pairing this wine but right now I'm dreaming of spaghetti cacio e pepe or a gleaming pepperoni pizza! G.D. Vajra Barolo 'Albe' 2014 There is a trend toward bottling single-site Barolo; wines that express very particular qualities that are the result of unique combinations of soil, topography and microclimate; distinctive interpretations of the concept of terroir, but.... not necessarily more delicious wines... The traditional wines of Barolo were always blends of sites from across the region, the idea being that the combination of different qualities would make the best possible wine in any given vintage. In a vintage like 2014, a year full of challenges, this time-honored practice of blending was particularly useful and the Vaira family's multi-site Barolo Albe is a spectacular success. Elegant for Barolo, but still showing the powerful persistence of flavor that one should demand from the fine wines of the region, this wine is also a spectacular value. Highly aromatic, with notes of red and black fruits, roses, diverse spices and sweet tobacco, it is classic. A bit lighter than usual, this style of Nebbiolo shows parallels to Pinot Noir, especially in its fine-grained tannins that grip the palate and carry fruit and spices nuances through the long finish. We're going to give this silky little beast a lot of air before we pour it for you tomorrow; you're not going to want to miss it!