The “grape-by-grape” Arborina from Altare in an approchable vintage

The very experimentally minded and Burgundy-inspired father of Silvia Altare, Elio Altare, initiated the project of doing a true 100% de-stemming of grapes from the 2011 vintage. In Burgundy, originally this was one of the legendary Henry Jayer‘s principles for pureness of wine making back in the 70-80’s in Burgundy that was a very important aspect of quality improvement in those days when numerous vintners in Burgundy were using pesticides and the area was on a declining path.

While the noble grape in Burgundy for reds; pinot noir, naturally consists of comparably little natural tannins, nebbiolo has plenty. Hence, in Burgundy it is brave to rely only on tannins in the grape skin, so many vintners in Burgundy adds stems to their wines, especially in years low on tannins or to vineyards normally rendering less structure and grip. Accordingly, they then render more backbone and persistence, but they run a risk of rendering more bitterness from the stems as well. So if you aim for purity, as Silvia and her father do here, this undertake has great potential.  This is all good and very interesting indeed. However, there is a backside to this and that is that with nebbiolo the chalks holding the grapes are really close to the small berries and they are fragile, so this is a very tedious and absurdly time-consuming work really. According to Silvia, it took 11 days for 10 people for the total production of five barriques from the oldest part of the Arborina vineyard planted mostly in 1948, so clearly a very expensive project that needs to fullfil its expectations in order to be worthwhile. This is about 1,500 bottles only. The name for this bottling has been changed a few times along the way, but they have now settled on “unoperuno” which translates into one-by-one and quantity is insanely low too. However, you must admire the effort.

Interestingly, Silvia has decided to use another label for this bottling comared to the normal Arborina.

This tasting was done at the estate when visiting Silvia and we had the opportunity to taste the normal Arborina side-by-side to the special Arborina version “uno-per-uno”.

2011 Altare Barolo “unoperuno” Arborina

The nose emerges with a light and quit reticent carefulness. However, I notice Bee wax, wallpaper adhesive, lilies and fresh rose petals.

On the palate, the fruit is more clean and supple compared to the normal Arborina, even though more sweet in this vintage. Primarily very clean, pure, blue fruit, dark cherries and notes of Asian spices. A quite aromatic wine in this approachable vintage with generous body but still a light-weighter. However, texture is soft, velvety and tannins are ripe, but not really approachable yet. So it needs more time to settle and integrate. Its persistent and offers an elegantly tip-toeing envelope with delicate and crystalline minerals.

There is a lot of finesse in this warm barolo, but it is the purity and precision that really stand out in this special Arborina. Open in 2017 to let the tannins settle even more.


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