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Fratelli Alessandria, Verduno Pelaverga “Speziale”Piedmont, Italy 2021 (750mL)

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Fratelli Alessandria, Verduno Pelaverga “Speziale” Piedmont, Italy 2021 (750mL)

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The last time we offered this inimitable Piedmontese red, we lamented the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to get. I’d like to think we’ve had something to do with that, even though we’ve essentially shot ourselves in the foot in the process. Quantities of Alessandria’s Verduno Pelaverga “Speciale” were shorter in the 2021 vintage, so even though we were first in line (as usual), we couldn’t secure as much as we usually do. 


Not that there’s much to “secure” to begin with: the spicy, aromatic Pelaverga variety is one of the rarest native varieties around. There are only about 20 hectares of Pelaverga vines in existence and maybe a dozen producers making the wine, most of them concentrated in the variety’s namesake village of Verduno. Topping our list among these is “Speziale.” In addition to the elegant Barolo wines they make from their vineyards in Verduno (one of the 11 communes in the Barolo DOCG), Alessandria has something truly special here: This brambly red is one of a kind. It is also a total joy to drink and a chart-topping value, yet at the same time, it will surprise you with its complexity. Soft tannins, sappy red fruit, peppery spice, and soaring aromatics are its calling cards, so grab as much as you can before it disappears for another year!



Verduno Pelaverga is a name for the piccolo strain of this variety, which is confined to Verduno and the neighboring villages of Roddi and La Morra. While it often factored into regional blends in the past, it has developed a cult following as a varietal wine, thanks not only to Alessandria’s excellent version but to bottlings from neighbors such as G.B. Burlotto and Castello di Verduno. This trio of producers has raised the profile of Verduno over the years, as their finessed, high-toned Barolo wines have garnered ever-greater critical acclaim; Pelaverga has played its part, too, as it is precisely the kind of delicious, affordable, singular wine sommeliers are keen to showcase on their lists. 


Essentially an extension of the La Morra vineyard area, with similar southeastern/southern exposures in the best sites, Verduno’s vineyards are headlined by the iconic “Monvigliero” cru, source of some truly legendary Barolo bottlings (including one from Alessandria). In total, the Alessandrias farm just 12 hectares of vineyards, most of them in Verduno, as part of an estate that has been in the family since 1870. These days it’s Gian Battista Alessandria running the show, with help from his wife, Flavia, brother, Alessandro, and son, Vittore.


“Speziale” comes from an assortment of small, high-elevation vineyard sites in the sandy, clay/limestone soils of Verduno. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, followed by a few months in bottle, resulting in a red of exuberant freshness and an intriguingly smoky soil component. In the glass, it’s a medium ruby red with pink highlights, with perfumed aromas of small red berries, rhubarb, rose hips, pink peppercorn, underbrush, leather, and dried flowers. It is medium-bodied, with firm, fine-grained tannins and lots of crunchy, juicy fruit. Although decanting certainly wouldn’t hurt, it’s not necessary, and I’d suggest a serving temperature closer to 55-60 degrees. Pour some in Burgundy stems with a platter of cured meats or maybe the attached cranberry stuffed pork chops. Or, just enjoy it on its own. Local legend in Verduno is that Pelaverga is an aphrodisiac, so really any occasion will do. Enjoy!




Fratelli Alessandria, Verduno Pelaverga “Speziale” Piedmont, Italy 2021 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionVerduno
  • SoilClay Marl & Sandstone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPelaverga Piccolo
  • Alcohol13.5%

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionVerduno
  • SoilClay Marl & Sandstone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPelaverga Piccolo
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Temp.Serve at 55-60° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2025
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingCranberry-Stuffed Pork Chops