Fratelli Alessandria, Barolo del Comune di Verduno
Fratelli Alessandria, Barolo del Comune di Verduno

Fratelli Alessandria, Barolo del Comune di Verduno

Piedmont, Italy 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$65.00

Fratelli Alessandria, Barolo del Comune di Verduno

It should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to our Daily Discoveries: We love Fratelli Alessandria. This impeccable Barolo-maker keeps upping the ante when it comes to quality, but whereas most producers would turn their increased notoriety and critical acclaim into sharply inflated prices, the Alessandrias have held the line. And that’s why you see their wines so regularly here on SommSelect (stay tuned for more this afternoon, in fact): The Alessandria value proposition is as good as it gets. Critic Antonio Galloni once dubbed Alessandria “one of Piedmont’s under-the-radar jewels,” which is both true and confounding: How can this consistently excellent producer still be flying under the radar? They certainly haven’t flown under ours, and when it comes to the more finessed, perfumed side of Barolo, Alessandria is probably the first name that comes to mind. Today’s 2019 is only the third vintage of this “del Comune di Verduno” bottling, combining fruit from a wide assortment of vineyards in their home village. Not surprisingly, it’s the best edition yet, and it’s still a highway-robbery-level steal. Do not delay!

The village of Verduno, one of the 11 communes that make up the Barolo appellation, has been having a moment lately, thanks not only to Alessandria but to its legendary neighbor, G.B. Burlotto. The labeling of wines with a “comune di” (“from the village of…”) designation is a fairly recent innovation in Barolo; it was created to further cement the importance of place-specificity in consumers’ minds. The Alessandria estate, which has been in the same family since 1870, includes about 12 hectares of vineyards, most of them in Verduno. Essentially an extension of the La Morra vineyard area, with similar eastern (and sometimes northern) exposures, Verduno is home at least one bona-fide “grand cru”—a site called “Monvigliero”—which Fratelli Alessandria counts among its holdings. 

In past Alessandria offers, we’ve compared their Barolos, and those of Verduno in general, to red Burgundies from Chambolle-Musigny. Like Burgundy, Barolo is such a well-developed, carefully mapped wine zone that specific villages are identified with certain styles of wine. Burgundy aficionados identify Chambolle-Musigny, for example, for the most perfumed and silky Pinot Noirs; Gevrey-Chambertin for a deeper, more “masculine” take; and so on. Barolo devotees look to Serralunga for more brooding, mineral intensity; Monforte for sheer depth; and La Morra and Verduno for more finessed and fruity takes on the Nebbiolo grape.

Alessandro and Vittore Alessandria (father and son, not fratelli) source the fruit for this bottling from five different small estate vineyards in Verduno (to carry the “di comune” designation, at least 85% of the grapes must come from the stated village). Hand-harvested grapes are de-stemmed, fermented on ambient yeasts in stainless steel, then transferred to large Slavonian and French oak casks (20- to 40-hectoliter capacity) for three years. After cask aging, the wine is transferred back to tank for two months, then to bottle for six, before it is released. Once again, I’m compelled to mention: think of all that craftsmanship, patience, and investment when you consider the price!

This 2019 (a great Barolo vintage)  displays a deep garnet-red core with hints of pink at the rim. The aromas show off Nebbiolo’s inimitable array of fruity and savory notes: black cherry, red currant, raspberry, blood orange, fennel, leather, dried rose petals, sandalwood, and a truffle-y, forest-floor earthiness. Medium-plus in body, its tannins are perfectly integrated, especially after 30-60 minutes in a decanter—it is spicy and savory, but also refined and drinkable, with a long and aromatic finish. These wines are always tantalizingly approachable when young, but I wouldn’t hesitate to age it for 10+ years if you’re so inclined—it is floral, complex, and truly spot-on in every way. Serve this in your best Burgundy stems at 60-65 degrees and sip it slowly alongside the attached veal recipe, which incorporates black truffles (easier to find than Piedmont’s famous white ones). This wine and that pan sauce were meant for each other. Enjoy!

Fratelli Alessandria, Barolo del Comune di Verduno

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