Sourced from one of Barbaresco’s grand cru-equivalent vineyards, this wine has few peers when it comes to the amount of authenticity, craftsmanship, and pure pleasure it delivers for the dollar. I think of heritage producers such as Olga Raffault in the Loire Valley and López de Heredia in Rioja, Spain—truly legendary wineries whose wines remain remarkably accessible—and I wouldn’t hesitate to put De Forville in their company. Don’t miss this release from the 2013 vintage, which has revealed itself to be a special year in Barolo and Barbaresco. It is one of the best-value ‘collectibles’ we’ll offer all year.
De Forville’s “Vigneto Loreto” is a sub-section of the Barbaresco cru "Ovello," a 20-hectare site that is the northernmost vineyard in the village of Barbaresco. It’s a south-facing parcel, angling both to the southeast and southwest, with the calcareous marl soils typical of the region—although it is said to have a relatively high percentage of clay, which lends intensity to the wines bottled from it. Loreto has a southwestern exposure, and De Forville’s vines on the site are better than 35 years old, which is readily evident in the concentration and structure of the wine.
The De Forville family began producing wine in Barbaresco in the mid-1800s. Gioachino De Forville made Nebbiolo the family’s focus early on before being succeeded by his son, Vincenzo, who was followed by his nephew, Paolo, who passed the torch to his daughter, Mafalda, who is honored today by her sons and current proprietors, Valter and Paolo. Are you confused yet? In short, De Forville is a small, family business that has endured two World Wars and overcome countless challenges during its 150 year evolution from a rural farm family to a respected winemaking dynasty. This multi-generation commitment to grueling manual labor, tradition and excellence is how remote hillsides become the world’s greatest wine terroirs. In the last decade, De Forville has grown into a mid-size estate by Piedmont standards. There is a clear line drawn between the family’s modestly priced, fresh and quaffable young-release Dolcetto, Barbera, and Chardonnay, versus the more serious, expensive, barrel-aged Nebbiolo-based Barbaresco bottlings for which they are known. “Loreto” is the top-of-the-line wine from the estate, fermented in stainless steel and transferred to large (50-60 hectoliter) oak botti for two years of aging, followed by several months of bottle aging before release.
The 2013 Loreto shows the warmth and Autumn sun of the vintage with a concentrated garnet center dissolving into translucent red and orange hues on the rim. De Forville makes thoroughly old-school Barbaresco and this is one of their best I’ve ever enjoyed. A blast of cherry fruit, white stone and dried roses on the nose slams into a solid wall of deeply mineral tannins on the palate. Dense and detailed structure plus an extremely long finish ensures the best is still yet to come. This wine will benefit from another decade or two of flattering evolution in the bottle, but the ample fruit of the vintage ensures that it’s an electrifying wine to enjoy today. Simply decant about an hour before serving at 60 degrees in large Burgundy stems, alongside an appropriately juicy protein. I paired this gorgeous wine’s dark fruit and youthfully grippy tannins with the rich prosciutto and fontina stuffed inside a delicious veal chop. Buon Appetito!