The 2014 Barolo Monvigliero has really tightened up after its recent bottling. Today, what comes through is an unusually potent, virile expression of Monvigliero, rather than the more aromatic, perfumed style that is typical of both this site and wine. Readers should expect a brooding, classically austere Barolo that is going to need a number of years to unwind.
Fratelli Alessandria is a Piedmontese wine estate in Langhe, in northwest Italy. It was founded at the start of the 19th century and has been the property of the Alessandria family since 1870. The estate is focused on the cultivation of the Nebbiolo grape variety under the Barolo DOCG, but also produces a range of wines from other local grape varieties including Dolcetto, Barbera, Favorita and the rare red grape Pelaverga.
The estate covers 12 hectares (30 acres) of land in Verduno and Monforte d'Alba. There are a total of nine different vineyard plots with a variety of different terroirs. From these vineyards, Fratelli Alessandria produces a selection of Barolo wines, including three single-cru expressions, from the Monvigliero, San Lorenzo and Gramolere vineyards.
In addition to its Barolo wine range, Alessandria also makes a collection of regional wines, including those under the Barbera d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba and Langhe titles, as well as a single Verduno Pelaverga wine from 3ha (7 acres) of vines. This wine was first made in 1973 and today has a sizeable production of around 20,000 bottles a year.
Barolo is a traditional hillside village in the rolling hills of Piedmont, northwestern Italy. The vineyards and cantine (wineries) there have long been famous for producing some of Italy's very finest red wines – predominantly from the region's signature grape variety, Nebbiolo. Fragrant, tannic Barolo wine is so revered that it was one of just three wines awarded DOCG status on the day that the classification was introduced in July 1980 (the other two were Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano).
The Barolo vineyard zone covers the parishes of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and Barolo itself, and also spreads over into parts of Monforte d'Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d'Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. The soils and mesoclimates vary slightly between these communes, creating subtle differences between the wines produced from their vineyards (although it must be remembered that the skills and preferences of the individual winemakers also has significant influence over these differences).
To earn the name Barolo, the wines must undergo at least 38 months' aging prior to commercial release, of which 18 must be spent in barrel (the remainder in bottle). For the added designation of riserva, the total aging time increases to 62 months. As the tannins soften over time, the complexity shows through with hints of earth, truffles and dark chocolate.
Piedmont (Piemonte), located in northwest Italy, is home to more DOCG wines than any other Italian region, among them such well known and respected names as Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera d'Asti. Although famous for its austere, tannic, and floral red wines made from Nebbiolo, Piedmont's greatest success story in the past decade has been sweet, white, sparkling Moscato d'Asti.
Piedmont sits, as its name suggests, at the foot of the Western Alps, which encircle its northern and western sides and forms a border with Provence, France. To its southeast lie the northernmost Apennine Mountains. These low coastal hills divide Piedmont from its long, thin neighbor Liguria, and the Mediterranean beyond.
The Alps and Apennines are great significance here, in various ways. They are largely responsible for the region's favorable climate and, for many centuries, provided a certain level of protection from invasion. It wasn't until the region's mountain defenses were successfully breached (first by the Romans, then repeatedly by the French) that advanced enology finally arrived here. The introduction and regular updating of foreign winemaking technologies is one of the main reasons that Piedmont remains so viticulturally advanced compared to other Italian regions. The region's proximity to France also plays a part in this.
Piedmont is often described as the "Burgundy" of Italy, a reputation due to its many small-scale, family wineries and a focus on quality, which sometimes borders on obsession. What Burgundy does with Pinot Noir, Piedmont does with Nebbiolo – not the region's most widely planted grape, but the one which has made the largest contribution to the quality and reputation of its wine. Nebbiolo grapes are behind four of Piedmont's DOCGs: Barolo and Barbaresco (two of Italy's finest reds), Gattinara and the red wine from Roero (minimum 95 percent Nebbiolo).