Piedmonte gives us Nebbiola in the form of Barbaresco and Barolo. The Dons of the Italian wine scene. But every Don has its lackey and its moll. Dolcetto is the Moll; the little girl with feminine flavors, a light touch, easy on the eye and just as easy to drink. Barbera was the lackey. Grown in the middle ground between the high hill-slopes of Nebbiola and the valley vines of Dolcetto. Barbera always played second fiddle. Good, but not great, it never got the French oak treatment, rarely got planted on the best sites and was always a large, dark brooding wine that surprised newcomers by its softness – he was the dumb oaf.
Then came along wine-makers like Gicomo Bologna, Michele Chiarlo, Vietti and Burlotto. They saw a future in the big blob Barbera and they began planting it in higher spots, sunnier aspects and they also began fermenting it in new French oak. All of a sudden this flabby, big, cuddly wine became sleeker, stronger, and more approachable. And I, personally, have loved it ever since. Barbera has all that Barolo has with a more immediate beginning. Beautiful color, terrific rich aromas and a spiced plum and prune flavor with a hidden squelch of blueberry thrown in. It’s more approachable, more drinkable and as much more immediately enjoyable than most Barolos. And the kicker? Now that this big soft wine is being stored in French oak the oak is releasing its own tannins making the wine more structured and thereby ensuring ageablility. At a fraction of the price of Barol and Barbaresco.
I stayed at Burlotto’s vineyard two years ago and Fabio, great-grandson of the original Commendatore took charge of me over a couple of days – introduced me to the vines and the vineyards, talked to me about how his great grandfather had seen a vision, told me the story behind the Polar Bears on the label and introduced me to the entire line-up of his wines. It was summer so we started with his Elatis Rosé – a great intro to the innovations that have occurred in this winery (a rosé nebbiolo!). But it was his ‘reserve’ Barbera that really got me. A hulking red wine with massive black ink hues, in the glass the aromas reach out to you like blackberry jam cooking on the Aga. And yet on the palate it’s a big smoothie, a de-clawed man-eating tiger. Loaded with bright dark fruits, all the berries but hidden with roasted figs and really old Balsamic vinegar. This is a Barbera that should never be separated from a second bottle – the first will go down in no time, the second will always be needed.
- Producer: G.B. Burlotto
- Vintage: 2010
- Varietal: Barbera
- Country: Italy
- Region: Piedmont
- Production: 300-400 cases pa.
- Availability: Yes.
Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.