Recent visit in Piemonte - some thoughts

This is my third time that I visit Piemonte and this was another great trip with the family.
We recently got our second kid, so I new that I couldn’t get to visit many wineries this time, but we still managed to visit Bartolo Mascarello, Luigi Oddero, Burlotto and Brovia. Some thoughts from the visits that I wanted to share:

Bartolo Mascarello:
The first thing that really struck me, when we got a tour through the winery was how small the place actually was. There was nothing pretentious about it and I really enjoyed it. I’ve read a lot about the vinification, so I was obviously not surprised by the strickly traditional methods Maria Teresa and her team were performing, however it was news to me that they try not to do any green harvest. Alan explained that it doesn’t work to speed up the grape ripening, because the tannins also needs to be ripe, which you can’t speed up the same way. We tasted both the langhe Nebbiolo 17 and the Barolo 15. We were told that in addition to their younger nebbiolo they actually buy some grapes for the Langhe nebbiolo, which I didn’t know. Furthermore Alan explained that 2017 was difficult as it was a very hot year, which you also noted from tasting the wine. The 2015 Barolo was excellent, however it wasn’t the best wine of the trip for my taste. I also asked Alan about the 2016 vintage in which he replied that they see it as a very good vintage but not great. He didn’t thought of it as on par with 2010 and 2013.

Luigi Oddero:
We were welcomed by Alberto who gave a very thorough tour of the winery. He explained that they tried to stay true to traditional vinication as it was Luigi’s prefered style. Compared to Mascarello this is a huge and very modern(not vinification style) winery. I noticed they used french oak instead of Slavonian oak for their botti, which we were told gave more soft tannins. Also Dante Scaglione is still working as a consultant, but now his left hand Francesco is fully employed at Luigi Oddero. We tasted a great number of their wines and I must say I was very pleased with most of it. The Barbaresco Rambone 2016 was terrific and for 30 euros I bought some bottles. The Vigna Rionda 2013 and 2014 was both amazing with 13 having the edge here. However I am not sure that the price tag of 120 euro is justified compared to what other Baroli you can get for that price. This is definitely a place I will visit again and follow their wine with great interest.

My father in law and I visited Oddero and Mascarello alone but this time we all went. Therefor we had to skip the cellar and went straight to the tasting. We were all very impressed with the lineup from the Barbera to their Barolo, but the 2015 Monvigliero simply knocked off our socks. This was the wine of the trip for me (with a Brovia Rocche 2012 coming in very close). Unfortunately this estate has become so popular that it is virtually impossible to find their Barolo in Piemonte for a reasonable price. You can order the Monvigliero at the restaurant for about 65 euros, but not for take away.

I booked this visit very late, so unfortunately Alex told me they didn’t have time for a proper tour of the winery, which was completely fair. I really enjoy the wines from this estate with Rocche and Garblet Sue as the best ones in my opinion. We had a 2012 Rocche at a restaurant that was just flat out gorgeous. We were told that they expect great things from their 2016’s but Alex still thinks their 2013’s is their best Baroli to date. I wish I had some more.

All in all a lovely trip and you really get the feeling that more people are coming to this area, which was also confirmed by the above estates. I don’t know if you can say “it is the new burgundy” but I can definitely see price increases across the board and wines getting sold out very quickly. Also it seems to me that most producers are also trying to make wine that is charming in its youth and at the same time age well (primary example is obviously Burlotto) a bit like Burgundy. I started my interest in wine to late to really stock up on the great producers in Burgundy, so I’m trying to build a decent collection from Piemonte before that also gets too expensive.
I ended up buying some bottles from B. Mascarello, Produttori del Barbaresco, Alessandria Fratelli, F. Rinaldi, Brovia, Luigi Oddero and Sandrone (I have a soft spot for their Nebbiolo D’alba Valmaggiore 2016). I’ll drink 2015’s while waiting for more traditional vintages to come around and like many others save some money for 2016.

Nice review thanks for the info.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I definitely need to prioritize visiting Burlotto on my next trip to the Piemonte. You mentioned you were able to buy a bottle of Monvigliero at the restaurant for a very reasonable fee - Can you share the name of that restaurant?

I visited Alex last year, which unfortunately was a tough year for Brovia although I do think that they did an admirable job with their Unio bottling. Have you had a chance to have any of their Brea vigna ca’mia with a bit of age on it? That cru has been a highlight of the range in my (admittedly limited) experience, especially when you get 10+ years past vintage.

That is a pretty impressive list of bottles that you were able to bring home, where you able to get all of them ex-cellar?

Every trip to the Langhe is fun, I love it. You have picked up great wineries. Burlotto Monvigliero ‘15 - your Barolo wine of the trip is one of my favorites.
Thanks for sharing.

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How do you pronounce “Langhe”?

ge like in “get”

Thanks for your comment.
Yeah sure. You should be able to find it at Osteria Veglio which is a great restaurant both for dinner and lunch.

I actually bought some Unio at Brovia as I think the criticism of the 2014 vintage is a bit over the top. It is not the best vintage, but I still find it very charming with its early appeal. We still have to drink while waiting for 10 and 13 right? [cheers.gif]. And yes Ca’mia is very nice - I tasted a Ca’mia 2006 for not long ago, which was really great.

I live in Europe so it is very easy to just go there by car and load up. I find that you can still make good deals at the wineries however it is getting increasingly difficult as stuff is simply sold out. Alba is a good place to buy wine as it is nothing like the prices in the Barolo village.

Andreas, did you need any connection or status to get any of those visits, or were they all something a regular person could book over the phone or email? Thanks.

Yeah I really adore the place. We also sometimes go to Burgundy, which is also nice, but I have to say it is not as charming as Piemonte in my opinion. Yeah the Monvigliero is a very special bottle. I picked up some of their Pelaverga which is a special grape in Verduno. It is very affordable and conveys the style of the Burlotto estate in a very nice way.

Hey Chris,
Unfortunately, I’m a completely regular person :slight_smile:. Yes you either just write them or call them, but you can’t expect to be able to buy whatever you want. The very famous places are always sold out, but you still get to taste their wine (even for free). I have only gotten very polite responses from my requests, but make sure to book the visit well before you arrive.

Thanks. As of the last times I went (it’s been 10+ years since the last time), you could do that at most but not all places. I was particularly curious if Bartolo Mascarello required some connection or status, since those wines have become so prized and expensive in recent years. Good to know.

And score a small victory for us regular guys.

So “lan-geh” with a hard G?

I went last summer. I got into B Mascarello, Sandrone, G Rinaldi, Scavino amongst many others by writing nice letters in English and Italian. It was an amazing visit and I hope to go back again at some point. You could not purchase any wines at Sandrone or Rinaldi.

Pelaverga - by Burlotto or by Alessandria - is unique, easy and light. Drink cold in the hot summer :relaxed:

Yes. Of course the way vowels are pronounced in Italian and English are very different, so both a and e should be pronounced the Italian way. I hope you heard how that sounds.

Yes exactly :slight_smile:

It also goes very well with fish actually. Lovely wine

You mention that Bartolo and Brovia both did not hype the 2016 vintage as much and preferred the 2013 in comparison. Is that the general sentiment with other producers too.

In Italian, a G followed by an E or an I is pronounced like a J in English. The H indicates it’s a hard G.

Etymological/pronunciation trivia: The same rule is carried over into English in words of Latin/French/Italian origin where a G is followed by an E or I: genetics, gelatin, ginger, Geneva, Genoa.

Thank you, John. Appreciated.

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