Piedmont Trip 2013: Burlotto – The star of Verduno

Burlotto has been around in Verduno since 1850 and was established by Giovan Battista Burlotto. It became highly regarded even outside the Barolo region and was the choice of the royal family of Savoy that once ruled Piedmont. Moreover, Burlotto were among the absolute first who started bottling their own Barolo in the later part of the 1900 Century. This was even before Giacomo Conterno did his first Monfortino. However, when Giovan passed away in 1927, the estate’s supremacy gradually faded. Today’s owner, Marina Burlotto, Giovan’s great-niece, her husband, Giuseppe Alessandria, who is responsible for the vineyards, and their son, Fabio, who having acquired a degree in oenology and viticulture, are the ones that has truly re-positioned them once again as a renowned producer of terroir-focused high quality wines in Barolo. However, they are still yet somewhat under the radar, but we think on the rise to stardom once more.

Now after a history lesson, let’s get the categorisation exercise done immediately and say that Burlotto is a traditionalist. They use long maceration times, neutral wooden fermentation vats for long ageing. This should not be misinterpreted as a lack of curiosity or will to experiment. Fabio Alessandria whom we met is a man full of ideas, searching for new inspiration and has an urge to improve his wines. Fabio is on the surface a quiet, timid and polite man but underneath he is full of strong convictions and ideas. We had a very interesting discussion around both vinification methods and his thoughts on the expression he is looking for in the wines.

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The open vats for maceration

The winery is famous for their single-vineyard barolo from the cru Monvigliero in the very north-west corner of Verduno in Barolo. It is produced with ultra traditional methods including crushing grapes by feet. Fabio tells us that using feet is a very gentle method that doesn’t break the seeds and more importantly the stems, so there is no need of using a machine or other technology. Whole stems and seeds are important to avoid bitterness in the process of wine making. For this wine, they use whole non-de-stemmed grape bunches to add complexity, a method often used in Burgundy to add tannins in vintages low on tannins, as pinot noir naturally contain little tannins. Since nebbiolo on the contrary contains much tannins, this practice is not common in Piedmont. However, Fabio manages to select only very ripe stems and avoid austere green aromas, thus only let it add complexity to the barolo of Monvigliero. In addition, it certainly helps that tannins here are naturally softer in Verduno than other places in Barolo and the very cold winds at nights may also explains how they can wait long until stems are ripe and still render fresh acidity levels in the grapes. Watch our video below to hear Fabio talk about the methodologies used

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Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p9xwcYA0F8o

The usage of open vats for the fermentation process means that they do not have to add oxygen and it also improves their possibility to control the punch-down and pump-overs of the sub-merged caps. The fermentation period for the Monvigliero is approximately 60 days.

During the tasting a few words came up several times; Freshness, softness and purity. Fabio tells us that “you should want to continue drinking directly after each sip”, meaning that he does not want a heavy powerful wine where you need to catch your breath before continuing drinking, but elegance and complexity.

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Fabio Alessandria among the very big botte

The wines tasted

Langhe Dives 2012

This is a Sauvignon Blanc which is aged 11 months in barrels. Fabio tells us that he is aiming for a fresh expression without getting a green result.

Andreas:

Not surprisingly for a Sauvignon Blanc we find lots of nettles, floral notes, exotic fruit, grapefruit and stone. The taste reveals very clear minerals, citrus and an acidity which is quite sharp at the moment.

This is a pleasant Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of a personality to it.

87p/100

Sir Galahad:

Acidity is really fresh, crispy and balsamic, but now a little gnarly. It is just a little sweet, but has got personality and offers very nice with delightful minerals, citrus, balsamic, white flowers, peach, apricot and grape fruit.

86p.

Verduno Pelaverga 2012

This is a grape only grown in Verduno and Saluzzo in Piedmont and it was a first experience for us.

Andreas:

On the nose we are served red fruit, pepper, floral notes and a long lasting experience of freshness. This wine has a very clear and crisp acidity, again there is and abundance of red fruit, some stone and we are left with a bit of sweetness in the end. There is virtually no tannic structure in the wine.

This was a pleasant first experience with the Pelaverga grape. It is an easy drinking wine which has a light and fresh sensation but also some personality.

86p/100

Sir Galahad:

This is simple, but with interesting personality. Scarlet colour.

Very fresh wine. Complex nose and very good acidity as well as impressive balance. Much better than dolchetto.

87p/100

Freisa 2012

Andreas:

The nose is very expressive with red current, pepper, balsamic, strawberries, lingon berries and some sweetness in the fruit.

This wine is very generous with juicy red fruits, like strawberries and some raspberries but also some sweet jam and balsamic notes. Compared with the Pelaverga is has more of a backbone with a good tannic structure complemented by the acidity.

89p/100

Sir Galahad:

Colour is scarlet red.

The nose is balsamic, offers some red fruit and savoury notes.

The palate is absolutely dominated by grape-peel and some fruit. More tannic than nebbiolo and ripe tannins is very important for this grape, closely related to nebbiolo.

88-89p.

Langhe Nebbiolo 2012

Andreas:

The entry level Nebbiolo is of high quality and offers a nose full of fresh raspberries, roses, minerals and some strawberries. The palate is dominated by red fruit and a quite strong acidity. Still this wine has an ok balanced for the young age.

This was a good step into the Nebbiolo wines and can be recommended for anyone looking for an easy drinking Nebbiolo with a fresh expression.

89p/100

Sir Galahad:

Colour is light-red transparent. This slow nose emerges with rose petals, fragrant and delicate perfumes.

The palate is dominated with herbs, pure red fruit. Really great texture and good balance! Not so complex but fresh and pleasant.

89p/100

The barolo line-up of the 2009 vintage

Barolo 2009

Andreas:

A more classical barolo nose with roses, hints of tar, leather and solvent but also menthol and balsamic notes. The palate shows more concentration than previous wines but we still have the pure and fresh fruit in the center of the experience. Tannins are very soft and polished already and provides a nice texture to the wine.

In this wine the pure and fresh fruit is starting to be combined with some concentration and complexity.

93/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose is slow and emerges with roses, fragrant and fresh perfumes and tar.
Very pure, fresh fruit is offered here. Fantastic acidity! Some tar, leather, balsamic, herbs and licorice-root. Quite persistent actually. Slim. Texture is fine sandy. Key words are purity and freshness.

93p/100

Barolo Acclivi 2009

The Acclivi is a blend of their vineyards in Verduno; Monvigliero, Neirane and Rocche dell’Olmo and the mix is decided based on the specific attributes of the vintage. The grapes are de-stemmed.

We have tried the Acclivi several times before and have always enjoyed the wine but never had the great wow-experience.

Andreas:

Compared to Acclivies we have tried previously, the 2009 has a lot more depth and concentration. The nose shows multiple layers of red fruit, but also some darker fruit in the background. There is also an ethereal touch to the wine. The palate offers more dense and pure fruit, again both red and dark. The denseness is well balanced by an acidity full of energy which carries the wine forward in a long finish. The tannins are still a bit tough but seems to be of good quality and should integrate well over time.

This is a very complex wine which managed to combine depth and energy. It is by the best Acclivi I have tried and it should have a long and exciting. Well done!

94-95p/100

Sir Galahad:

This nose is dark, deep and rich but a little closed now. Conserved and ripe boysenberries are dominating here.

Impressive structure, complexity in here and several layers of extremely ripe red- and blue fruit. Fresh acidity with grape-peel and balsamic flavours. It has impressive balance, medium-big body and is weightlessly powerful. Concentration is great but above all, its complexity considering the vintage is impressive and the tannins are extremely silky and soft for a young barolo in a warm year. The best ever, Aclivi so far.

95p/100

Barolo Monvigliero 2009

The Monvigliero has been our favorite among Burlottos wines so far and it is the famous vineyard in Verduno and Fabio’s parcels are on a high altitude which of course adds a lot to the freshness. We have followed the wine through several vintages and have always been impressed by its purity and the seductive strawberries. At it very best, sometimes we have found similarities with wines from Volnay and Vosne Romanée in Burgundy.

Andreas:

The nose is full of fresh red berries, roses, some truffles, herbal notes, eucalyptus and some minerals.

In the mouth the wine offers more of the same with raspberries, balsamic notes and  in the end a pleasant sweetness complements the impression. This is very light and fresh wine with a soft and silky tannic texture. At the moment there is a slight sharpness to the fruit, but this should calm down with time.This is not the best Monvigliero I have tried, but it is also hard to follow after the fantastic Acclivi. Still the wine follows the classical style of the Monviglieros from Burlotto.

94p/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose is aromatic, herbs, kinin, notes of truffle, tiny notes of grape-peel and delicate seductive flowers.

The taste offers immediate super-ripe strawberries and raspberries. Mid palate goes on with balsamic aromas, black olives, tar, leather, pastry and herbs. Texture is very fine sandy and almost velvety already. Rich and slim. It has got grip but power is impressively weightless, but it is more about elegance than structure. The acidity and tannins are already collaborating. Incredibly persistent, complex and elegant without any astringency.

94-p/100.

Cannubi 2009

Andreas:

The nose is quite deep and earthy and contains blueberries, strawberries, roses, balsamic notes, boysenberries and leather.

The acidity is a bit harder than for the other wines but of very good quality. We also find lots of cherries, strawberries and some earthy notes and iron in the taste. The tannins are as expected a bit sandier and tougher in the Cannubi compared with the other barolos.

This is a wine which needs some time before it peaks.

92-94p/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose is packed with fragrant rose petals, fine tuned minerals, balsamic notes, earth, herbs.

Very ripe red fruit; cherries and wild strawberries. Here is more tar, sweet leather, balsamic aromas, grape-peel and minerals. Quite course and rougher tannins that need time. Very promising acidity, but Cannubi never does its best in warm vintages since it cannot store water well and this stresses the plants too much.

93-p/100.

Summary

For us Burlotto is all about purity, freshness and soft tannins, which is also what we experienced in this tasting. The main surprise was how great and complete the Acclivi was. We will post a tasting soon for the newly released 2010’s which will be exiting, even though it will most likely not be as forward and approachable as the 2009 at this stage.

0 thoughts on “Piedmont Trip 2013: Burlotto – The star of Verduno

  1. Henrik

    Fabulous report from one of my favourite producers.
    Also interesting notes on the wines. I have only tried the 2009 Monvigliero and I was not impressed. Thought the tannins were unusually harsh and not in sync with the rest of the wine. I have previously loved 2006, 2008 In 2008 the Cannubi had mopre depth and complexity) and also enjoyed 2007.
    But I hope I tried the Monvigliero on an off-day for me … I have a couple of Acclivis and will pop a cork on one of them soon.
    To me, Burlotto is the Volnay of Barolo, exquisite wines with depth and intensity even though they are light-weight than – for instance – Serralungas.

    Reply
  2. Sir Galahad

    Thanx, Henrik. Great to here that you enjoyed the post.

    The tannins were naturally not by any means fully polymerized or integrated in the very approachable 2009 Monvigliero, but we didn’t find them harsh at all. As usual, young tannins give the tongue a spur in the end and so did this, but as stated we find the texture soft and the tannins being harvested ripe (both from stems and skin). For us the Cannubi was the one with course and somewhat hard tannins at this tasting with Fabio. Yes, the 2006 Monvigliero is great, we agree.

    Yes, the Verduno barolos are certainly silk and more volnay-like compared to Serralunga. 🙂

    What vintages of Acclivi do you have, Henrik? Now, we got exited..

    Reply

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