Rising Star in Barolo

Today’s Story: Giulia Negri

The story behind Giulia Negri and her wines is a unique one, with Giulia taking over her family’s well-established Barolo estate at the age of 24. Though she studied management and biology during college, Giulia returned to the Langhe commune of La Morra after a palate-shaping journey through Burgundy. Inspired by the wines and winemaking practices of Burgundy, Giulia started crafting small amounts of Barolo released as several “microcuvĂ©es” before fully taking control of vineyard management and production of her family’s 150-year-old estate in 2014.

Located in the Serradenari cru of La Morra, Giulia’s vineyards stretch from 400 to 536 meters (1,312 to 1,758 feet) above sea level. Not entirely shocking after reading those numbers, Serradenari is the highest point in the Barolo zone with breathtaking views of the Alps from Liguria to Mount Cervino. Though the vineyards for her Barolo bottlings command West and Southwest exposure, Giulia inherited small plots of Northern facing Chardonnay and Pinot Nero planted by her father that allow her to experiment with the varieties that helped shape her palate in Burgundy. In caring for her vineyards, Giulia practices organic farming (she started in 2014) though full conversion and certification is expected for the 2019 vintage. A traditionalist at heart, Giulia hand harvests all fruit for her wines, practices long and gentle maceration, ferments with only indigenous yeasts, and minimizes filtration. Her resulting wines are elegant in their youth thanks to fine-grained tannins, yet they have the structure to withstand the test of time in the cellar.

The Giulia Negri portfolio consists of seven wines. Her three Barolo bottlings consist of Marassio (0.8 hectare at 536 meters above sea level), Serradenari (1 hectare at 520 meters above sea level), and La Tartufaia (2 hectares at 460 meters above sea level). In addition to her Chardonnay and Pinot Nero I mentioned earlier, she also produces a Langhe Nebbiolo Pian delle Mole and a Barbera d’Alba. Though these wines can be difficult to find due to the small quantities and relative novelty of production (I had to special order mine), Giulia’s wines are worth seeking out. Though young, she seems to be making quite the name for herself and is certainly a rising star in Barolo.

For more on Giulia’s background, facts about each wine, and pictures of this beautiful estate check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Barolo La Tartufaia

100% Nebbiolo; 14% ABV

The 2015 Barolo La Tartufaia is pale to medium ruby in color and almost entirely transparent. This wine is a blend of 80% Serradenari cru (vines planted in 2004) and 20% Brunate cru (40-year-old vines). I stole a sip right out of the bottle, but because of its youth let this decant for an hour before pouring a glass. Once the wine opens up, the nose showcases aromas of bright red cherry, redcurrant, rose petal, violet, saddle leather, forest floor, underbrush, clay, tar, and delicate oak. In the mouth, I get notes of cherry, raspberry, dried cranberry, rose, cured meat, tobacco, loamy earth, rocky minerality, slight spice, a hint of truffle, and faint presence of oak. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with moderately high acidity, ultra-fine medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $60. I think this is a great value for Barolo, and I love the story behind Giulia and her wines as well. Pair this with duck, quail, filet mignon, truffles, or goat/sheep cheese.

Killer Single Vineyard Barolo

Today’s Story: Oddero

After my lengthy post on Cos d’Estournel two days ago and yesterday’s fresh Frank Cornelissen, I have an easy post today on Oddero since I wrote about their history in King of Wines on October 11. Long story short, Oddero is one of the great historic wineries producing Barolo and Barbaresco and they date back to the 18th century. Considered a traditionalist producer, Oddero releases some of my favorite wines.

Without further ado…

Today’s Wine: 2012 Barolo Riserva Bussia Vigna Mondoca

100% Nebbiolo; 15% ABV

This wine comes from the Mondoca vineyard, an estate vineyard of Oddero, located in Monforte d’Alba within the menzione geografica Bussia. The vineyard exemplifies some of the most difficult conditions in Piedmont, including dusty white soil poor in nutrients and the highest temperatures for any vineyard in the Barolo area.

The 2012 Riserva is bright ruby red in color and fairly transparent. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of cherry, raspberry, licorice, red rose petal, tobacco leaf, tar, white pepper, and a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, this classic Barolo shows notes of black cherry, dried cranberry, cola, underbrush, dusty dried earth, tobacco, mild chocolate, and sandstone. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. Plenty of gas left in the tank with this bottling, as I’d suggest letting it age another 7-10 years.

Price: $115. Great value for high-quality traditional Barolo. Overshadowed by the 2010 and 2013 vintages in Piedmont, I’ve realized lately there are some great values in 2012 which is still a solid vintage. Pair this with game birds, pork, or even steak.