I’d contacted Fabio Alessandria, winemaker at G.B. Burlotto, several months in advance of my trip to Langhe – I know how busy he is, not only in the vineyards/cellar, but also marketing the wines in London, New York City, etc.
And even though I saw Fabio on 2 April, at the Grandi Langhe 2017 event that morning in La Morra, it was only to say hello to an old friend as we’d previously arranged to spend some hours together later in May, as his schedule permitted.
In the end, Fabio and I were able to get together at the end of May, but it was for a lunch – no note-taking, no recorder or camera, just a friendly lunch – and after, some quality time in Monvigliero vineyard. In all, we’d spent more than 3 hours together, but we never did taste wines besides the ones I had brought for our lunch at Osteria Vignaiolo, so we decided upon a tasting at a later date. A week later, after Fabio had returned from Northern Europe, we had that tasting, a tasting of many wines, though the real focus was upon the new release Barolo wines from the 2013 vintage.
2 April, as I said, marked the beginning of Grandi Langhe, a 3-day event spread across six venues, with hundreds of newly released Barolo wines from the 2013 vintage; several producers had brought also along some older vintages, too, for fun/context.
The week after Grandi Langhe was Vin Italy. This year I spent an entire day (as is my custom), the last day of the fair, when things are much less chaotic, in Pad. 10, the Piemonte pavilion, tasting and re-tasting 2013 Barolo and Barbaresco wines (and many more from the area, too). I tasted a lot of wines that day, and during Grandi Langhe; thankfully, my palate held up well at both – I really enjoy tannic, young wines and have a pretty long threshold before I have to re-charge/rest.
At the end of May, as my three month trip was winding down, I spent my final 3 weeks visiting the cellars of some of my favorite producers in Langhe area, tasting and re-tasting. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of the 2013 vintage, but also the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, too, as those were the (additional) reason(s) behind devoting another 3 weeks (re-)canvassing the area. By the end of the trip, there were a few stones still left un-turned, but not many.
A longer, detailed post of my time with Fabio, including some insight into Monvigliero will follow, but for now, I at least wanted to get the 2013 Barolo notes published. I hope they can help some of you in your quest for fine Italian wine.
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo (HR+) A classic Barolo wine. The definition of classic is probably open to interpretation for most – for me, it’s not. This medium-bodied wine is tightly coiled at the moment, the tannins are a bit cross, and the acids, well, they’ve yet to settle in. Scores will probably be low-er for this wine, and maybe even for 2013 Barolo in general for the simple fact that these are less approachable wines, these will need 4-5 years, at least, before they begin to, by most standards, be pleasurable, become enjoyable. That said, I loved it, and left with my normal allotment for the year. And I’ll be doing it again in 2014, a vintage the media, etc., have already doomed to inferior quality. Whatever. The more the ‘pros’ pan things, the lower prices may stay reasonable…and with producers like Burlotto, one comes to know the quality is going to be there, no matter what, so why fuss with scores, etc., just buy as much as you can find, something that’s harder to do each year, as demand is continually outpacing supply. Thru 2039, highly recommended+
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Acclivi (HR+) A wonderful Acclivi, with little, today, in common with the 2012 tasted exactly one year ago (i.e. as it was being released). I loved the 2012, I felt it was a great reflection of the vintage, place and grape. This 2013 is, again, representative of its vintage, place and grape, but that’s not to say it’s got a lot of common descriptors with its older brother (older by one year). This is a classic, full(-) bodied Barolo wine, one that will need a good quantity of rest before it’s ready; after that, the plateau will be long, the wine will fill out, and its pace of development will, I think, be rather slow. A lovely expression, and one I will begin to revisit in another 4-5 years. highly recommended+
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Cannubi (VHR+) Another emotional wine, this following the Monvigliero, and again, I wasn’t quite prepared for such a moving experience. Honestly, I get excited just typing this note out, the wine having that much of an effect. No need for descriptors, all you need to know is you’re not likely to find any, but if you do, buy all you can find, without hesitation. If you are lucky enough to get several, open one straightaway – the others will live on for decades. Epic. very highly recommended+
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero (VHR) This is an emotional wine. I was at a loss for words, not because I was unable to count off descriptors, but because the wine transported me to another realm, a realm of tranquil beauty and blissful elegance. Already available, with air, though likely to improve as well. Epic. very highly recommended
(Note: I read this morning that this wine got 100 points. Hogwash. 100 points is about the person doing the awarding/anointing, not the wine; wines need scores like bears need bicycles. This wine would, normally, receive a + sign after its VHR (very highly recommended), but it’s no longer an exceptional value relative to its peers, thanks to a very small group of people, none of which actually worked in Monvigliero vineyard.
header photo: 2 June, at Fabio’s house/cantina, exactly two months after I saw him in La Morra while we were both at the (beginning of) Grandi Langhe event. It was warmer, and now there were grapes, but the 2013s still need more time, so give it to them 😀