The Hunter Gets Captured By The Prey - Comm. G.B. Burlotto Visit (Sept. 16, 2021)

Verduno is a Barolo commune that doesn't get the recognition that its top growers deserve. Which makes it a shoppers' heaven, relatively speaking, at least for now. Burlotto is arguably the best. For me, any reservations vanished once I tasted the wines. If Burlotto is not the best Verduno producer, then the number one spot must be God.

Fifth generation grower/winemaker Fabio Allesandria makes an exquisite range of beautiful, precise wines. All winery visits take you through the range, from bottom up, but my visit in Burlotto gave me the clearest sense of purpose and direction, how each wine makes a statement and has a distinct identity beyond its place in hierarchy and the money making machinery.

Sauvignon Blanc, 2020

I actually drunk this over dinner at Il Centro (at Priocca) the evening before the visit, and not at the winery. And what a way to prepare it was! Il Centro's very comprehensive  wine menu lists the ABV for each vintage and that's how I learned that the 2020 is 12.5% ABV whereas the 2019 is 14%. I didn't get a chance to ask Fabio about that, but my feeling is that he lets the grapes and vintage speak. Anyway, it's a seamless, wonderfully elegant marriage of tropical fruits on the nose and focused minerals in the palate. With air, the tropical fruits on the nose recede and meld brilliantly with flint and salt. A sensational wine that never wavers in its focus and precision and I really can't recommend it enough.

Pelaverga, 2020

There's quite a story here. This is a grape grown only in Verduno, which Fabio's grandparents revived in the 70's just as it was on the verge of extinction. Today, the enoteca in Verduno' village square has a shelf dedicated to the grape. It really has no parallel or peer, at least in Fabio's hands. It's a deceptively light, subtly wine, with spicy red fruit flavors spiced with minerals and it grows in force and presence with air. There's something very Piedmontese about it that I can't quick verbalize, but anyone who loves Piedmont will pick up on it. A bottle drunk later over dinner proved very moreish and surprisingly popular with the family.

Dolcetto d’Alba, 2019

Fabio nails the grape with a fruity, yet focused, floral wine. It's a wine for gulping down, yet somehow it keeps my intellectual interest at the same time. 

Barbera d’Alba, 2020

I usually find Barbera too rich, but this is very precise and balanced, not jammy, but rather with the saline tension we term "minerally". The bottle we tasted was recently bottled, yet displayed very little obvious bottle shock.

Acclivi, 2017

A blend of the best of the family's Verduno crus. Off vintage my foot! The nose is intoxicating out of the bottle, tempting the senses with raspberries (which Fabio calls the stamp of Verduno), spices and  truffles. It's young, so it's still lacking in complexity, but its exquisite structure, which builds to a refined Barolo tannic crunch, is obvious even now. Simply gorgeous.

Monvigliero, 2017

The Monvigliero Cru is the family' pride of place. This is pure voodoo, the kind of wine that stops you in your tracks.  2017 was a dry vintage and one of the earliest harvests in memory. Fabio says he expected a "hot" character from the grapes, yet they surprised him. Tasting the wine, the energy and liveliness of the fruit jumps out of the glass, and the synergy of fruit and spices is one of the most moving moments I have experienced in wine. Somehow, the wine is both delicate and persistent, and supremely elegant. If the Acclivi seduces, the Monvigliero bewitches. Magic, like I said.

Cannubi, 2017

Cannubi is the family's only holding outside of Verduno, from a parcel in Valletta on the Cannubi hill. It's the powerhouse of the Barolos we tasted, but that's really just by way of comparison, a comparison which probably does it no little injustice - If this is what Fabio made in 2017, I'd buy all three, from any vintage. It's slightly riper and earthier with a touch of leather, but it, too, is quite elegant, fresh and red.