Showdown: The Bussia vineyard, Barolo 2006

The vineyard Bussia in the commune of Monforte d’Alba in Barolo is a very long stretched area from the town of Monforte d’Alba in the very south of the Barolo region up to somewhere in between the town of Barolo and the town of Castiglione-Falletto. The vineyard used to be divided up in about 14 separate vineyards known to the locals. Actually, it is ridiculously large for a vineyard to make any sense for anybody trying to understand its terroir and potential quality. Because of this, the soil varies a lot depending on if you are close to the other areas and of course your exposition. Some producers mark their lieu-dit on the bottle e.g. Aldo Conterno, Oddero to mention a few. However, the soil in general consist of marl, limestone, marine fossil sediments, plenty of iron and tufa and has the potential of producing very concentrated, structured and firm wines with a lot of deep, rich aromas and with great ageing potential. The latter trait also usually requires patience.

Contenders today are Giacomo Fenocchio and Silvano Bolmida in the vintage 2006. This vintage is old-school classic and certainly on the heavy side. In Monforte d’Alba this means a little more of everything and its wine may in some cases probably take two decades until they peek. So now it is absolutely just a baby and will require a lot of patience. Now let’s check in the contenders and taste the wines..

2006 Giacomo Fenocchio “bussia” Riserva wine-searcher-link

This is a very traditional estate that is very true to its terroir and put all their effort into the vineyard. The kind we like. The estate was established in 1864 and is now managed by Claudio Fenocchio with the help of his brothers. As mentioned, Bussia is a too stretched area in order to understand its terroir and quality but this wine is from the lieu-dit “Bussia Sottana” as you probably can see in fine print on the label in the above picture. You can always trust traditionalists! You will find Bussia Sottana, if you draw a straight line between the Barolo town and the town of Castiglione-Falletto and put your finger in the middle of that line. Its immediate neighbour is the well known top lieu-dit Rocche di Castiglione on the right handside that cross boundaries among appelations here. In fact, it is a very interesting mixed zone, so it has some resemblance to the soil characteristics of Castiglione-Falletto area too. Basically this means that it adds clay and just a little less limestone that might render a little less power and more velvety texture.

Vines in Fenocchio’s parcel are about 30 years old, has perfect south-west exposition and the size of their parcel is 0.5 ha. Yield is about 45 hl/ha and grapes are 100% de-stemmed and gently crushed. Maceration is carried out for ten days or more depending on vintage with daily “pumping over”. The juice is fermented for 30 days and then a little unusually it is aged in stainless steel for six months and then put to rest in big, neutral barrels (botte) for three years. Then refinement for several months in bottle before release. Open 2020-2040+. Costs about €40.
Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark ruby middle and just a little orange, transparent edges.
Nose: After about four hours, there is a very careful and slow scent of fresh, seductive and complex floral fragrances of grace in the glass; typically top notes of rose petals, lilies. Other notes follow like fresh red fruit, tar, oil paint, leather, metals, dog rose and very fine tuned limestone minerals. A very delicate, slow and fragrant nose!
Taste: A mid palate of cool, fresh boysenberries, sourish wild strawberries, menthol, fennel, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals, plenty of iron, shale stone, some spice and tar. Tannins are already somewhat polished with soft, sandy texture and they are chewy, but absolutely neither heavy nor harsh. On the contrary, it is less tannic and powerful than you might expect from Bussia and maybe it confirms its special location. Even though concentration is really good and it is mouth-filling, structure is quite slim and beautifully light-weighted. Its balance is impressive. The acidity is energetic, fresh and just a little whining now but the wine is just a baby, so obviously this will improve and is very promising, so if you can resist opening it, you should most likely forget it for another 7-8 years.

A very well balanced, quite complex and very persistent wine with classic elegance. It is surprisingly quite approachable already, but I think it really has a lot of potential to be even better if you manage to be patient.



Nose: It took a few hours but when it opened up it was fantastic. Fresh red berries, roses, oil paint, balsamic and some tar. After even more hours in the decanter it had a hint of whisky.
Taste: Good balance between acidity, fruit and tannins, but it will improve a lot when it gets more integrated. The tannins are quite soft but can get a bit dry. There are also minerals and a hint of alcohol.
Finish: Quite long acidic finish.
Summary: This is a fantastic wine but right now it is very young.


2006 Silvano Bolmida “bussia” wine-searcher-link

Vines in Bolmida’s vineyard are 50 years old. Unfortunately, I cannot find out where his parcels are located in Bussia. Grapes are not de-stemmed, but bunches are crushed. Maceration is carried out for four weeks, so this long extraction is interesting. Vinification and ageing is done in a combo of small french barriques, some new, and bigger neutral barrels (botte). Another 14 months refining in bottle before release.

Colour: Dark ruby middle with somewhat transparent edges.
Nose: After about two hours, there is a scent of glue, solvent, truffle, fresh roses, tar, medicinal notes, earth, savoury, sulphur, shale stone and fir-needle. Fine nose and unusual.
Taste: A mid palate of a somewhat rustic tone, dark but not too much fruit here, saline, iodine, a lot of earthy, austere minerals and fennel. Tannins are not harsh, rather quite soft with sandy texture, but unfortunately very dry. Furthermore, there is an unpleasant, sharp metals, austere iodine and sulphur in the end on the tongue of the medium-long finish. Some excessive alcohol doesn’t help either. Unfortunately, it is a little flat too and the acidity is saline.

Even though the wine has a fine, interesting nose and it offers a vast palate and tannins are quite soft already, it is unbalanced, lacks fruit, has an unpleasant austere tone, it is a little flat and the tannins are dry. My guess to opening it in 2018 and hope for the best. Costs about €40.



Nose: Earthy, iron, leather, lots of red berries and some cherries. Reminds me of Clos de Vougeot wines from burgundy. Very pleasant. 
Taste: The taste is quite fresh and the acidity is good. Not as much fruit as expected from the nose. The alcohol comes forward a bit too much. 
Finish: Ok finish with soft and quite dry tannins. 
Summary: A pleasant wine but nothing special. The nose is very appealing, but from there the impression goes down a bit. Still an ok buy if you like modern Barolos.



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