Barolo… the first wines to knock our socks off over ten years ago, and the first wine region we visited in Europe in 2009; it’s about time we offered one. Unfortunately, Barolo is following Burgundy’s suit, with international fame among media, collectors and sommeliers, so prices have increased considerably over the past five years. However, we have found a gem that, to us, is a perfect expression of a generous and plush Barolo from the village of Castiglione Falletto. Barolo that ticks on intensity, richness, power, tannin while showcasing an interplay between heavy red and blue fruits, tar, earth, violets and red flowers.
The producer is Tenuta Montanello and this is their Barolo from the Montanello vineyard in the village of Castiglione Faletto, home to producers such as Vietti. We could ramble on about the differences of Barolo’s communes but it would take a few pages, and we will save that for our upcoming dinner series. For a crash course, see the articles on offer here; https://www.decanter.com/wine/wine-regions/piedmont-wine-region/barolo/
However, to give a brief summary, Castiglione is a commune in the centre of the Barolo DOCG, it has sand and clay soils, with some quarts, similar to communes to the west, Barolo (village with Barolo region) and La Morra. It produces very classically styled, medium to full bodied Barolo with plush tannin. The better wines are generally able to showcase beautiful aromatics and elegance, along with the typically pronounced tannin structure and richness that might also be seen in communes Serralunga and Monforte to the west and south.
The Montanello vineyard is south to south-west facing. Fifth generation winemaker, Alberto Racca, explains that the vineyard has a mix of 50/50 clay and sand. His wines reflect this balance in ways that are effortless and traditional, with often powerful tannin that is well integrated and tempered by bright aromatics and distinct red and blueberry fruits.
The fruit for the Montanello Barolo is selected from a portion of the vineyard with vines planted up to 75 years ago. It sees 12 months ageing in Alliers French barriques, 30% of which are new, and then a year in large Slavonian oak botti. It shows intense perfume, with typical red fruits on the nose, aniseed, tar, licorice and red flowers. It has a powerful and age-worthy structure that is balanced with rich, spicy fruit and an earthy, fennel-seed undertone. The tannins last forever, providing a profound mouthfeel to the finish.
2015 was what the Baroli would call a generous vintage, so they are relatively pleasing to drink as young wines (traditionally producers like Tenuta Montanello could take 30 years to come around), however this vintage will also cellar for 20+ years. It is up to you how long you can wait.
Eat with slow cooked meats such as lamb shoulder or braised oxtail. Mushroom risotto will work too, with a splattering of truffles if you can find them.