Piedmont Trip 2013: Old school Barolos from Barale Fratelli

Azienda Agricola Barale Fratelli has a very long history dating back to 1870. Today Sergio Barale is heading the estate together with his two daughters Eleonora and Gloria. Oenologist is Stefano DellaPiana.
We became interested in Barale Fratelli because of their high focus on the work in the vineyards and the vines, and we also have an attraction to producers with long tradition and usage of more traditional methods in the vinification process with long maceration periods and large, neutral barrels.

When meeting with Sergio, he immediately made it clear that the main work is done in the vineyards. Sergio says that if you do your job well there, you have everything you need in the grape, like tannins, acidity, phenol, colour, etc. The vinification process should only make sure the characteristics are preserved. During the years they have experimented with different nebbiolo clones in collaboration with the University of Turin and use different ones depending on the characteristics of the vineyard/terroir. Sergio wants to achieve better grapes that are more optimal to their soil. At harvest grapes are hand-picked and only the best grape bunches are used.
Today Barale Fratelli possess approximately 20 hectars of vineyards, of which seven hectars produce nebbilolo grapes for Barolo wines. Since two years Barale Fratelli is biological and in large parts Elenora was the driver behind the decision.
Sergio on the left and Stefano to the right
When we talk to Sergio he tells us that his work mainly is in the vineyards and that Stefano is responsible for the vinification process. After destemming, gentle pressing, the grape juice for Barolo undergoes a maceration period of 25-30 days with frequent pump-overs and are aged in big barrels (botte) made of french, neutral wood (Allier) which in 1985 replaced the old botte made of chestnut.

Notes from our tasting


2009 Barbaresco Serraboella

40 year old vines in parcels in the very eastern part of Neive. Two years in large oak barrels.

Colour: Dark ruby red, transparent edges.
Nose: Deep darker fruit, earthy, tar, solvent, medicine cabin, balsamic, some strawberries. Quite complex nose, but still a bit closed. Berries comes forward after a while.
Taste: Dark, earthy, tar, dark berries, strawberries comes forward later but here is very little fruit. Acidity is very high and quite harsh but promising. Quite sandy texture, but tannins are a little dry, hard and need to integrate further. Slim structure. Some austere and metallic finish.
Summary: We where not too impressed since the wine lacks the expected fragrant flowers, offers almost no fruit at all and tannins are hard and dry.

88-89p/100

2009 Castellero

Vines are 40 years old. 

Colour: Dark ruby red, transparent edges.
Nose: Earthy, iron, deep dark berries, quite ripe fruit, new tires, delicate perfumes, dried rose petals, glue, medicin cabin, cherries, autumn leafs, a hint of sherry, tobacco and some freshness in the background, probably from the acidity. Has some purity combined with a rustic character. 
TasteRustic, fresh, cool fruit, dusty, gravel, massive minerals, distinct grape-peel, leather, dried autumn leaves, tobacco and something vegetal. Texture is sandy and tannins are thick, fat and a bit dry now. Structure quite big. Good concentration and persistence.
Summary: This wine manages to balance the rustic and earthy nature with some freshness. 

89-90p/100

2005 Cannubi

Colour: Very dark ruby, light-orange edges.
Nose: Fragrant, pressed rose petals, balsamic, orang peels, chemical, medicinal cabin, autumn leaves, delicate perfumes, some tobacco, spices and exotic herbs. Fresh and quite complex but not seductive.
Taste: Fresh sweet fruit, anise, fennel, minerals, dry grape-peel, leather, dried autumn leaves. Texture is sandy and tannins are thick and too hard now. Acidity is energetic and gives some freshness to the wine, though at currently it is a bit gnarly. Structure is quite big. Good concentration and persistence is good, but finish is a little austere.
SummaryQuite complex and some depth in here, but rough now.

90-91p/100

2007 Bussia Sottana Riserva

Colour: Very dark ruby, light-orange edges.
Nose: Spices, dried marmalade, delicate stylish perfumes, quite ethereal and hints of glue.
Taste: Quite fresh dark fruit, minerals, violet, distinct grape-peel, glue, under vegetation, dry leather and loads of minerals. Texture is fine sandy and tannins are thick, chewy and fine. Acidity is quite energetic and promising. Structure is quite big. Good concentration and persistence, but the finish is a little dry, austere.
Summary: The wine has depth and the tannins are of high quality, but dry. The balance is good but it lacks some complexity for a higher score.

91-92p/100

Summary

The wines from Barale are quite rustic and earthy but in our opinion they lack fruit, some elegance and complexity for top scores and the finish is too dry. But if you are looking for classical old style Barolos you will not be disappointed when buying a Barale wine.

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