Agricola Brandini, Barolo del Comune di La Morra
Agricola Brandini, Barolo del Comune di La Morra

Agricola Brandini, Barolo del Comune di La Morra

Piedmont, Italy 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$60.00

Agricola Brandini, Barolo del Comune di La Morra

Brandini is the name of a small hamlet, or frazione, in the Barolo-making village of La Morra. It is also the name of one of the most talked-about brands in Italian wine, especially among those who cherish great Nebbiolo. While they may be relative newcomers, the young Bagnasco sisters, Giovanna and Serena, are recognized as respectful stewards of their land and of the traditional methods of Barolo winemaking. They officially took the reins of this family estate during the vintage on offer today, and they should be thrilled with this calling-card Barolo from their vineyards in La Morra: It is a pitch-perfect expression of this village, which is celebrated for its taut, perfumed, fine-tuned styles of Barolo. Although experts often compare Barolo to red Burgundy, it isn’t always borne out in the glass, but it sure is here—although if you wanted this level of polish, purity, and ageability from a Burgundy, you’d half to spend twice or three times as much. Once again, Barolo delivers, and this is one you can enjoy now or 10 years from now. At this price, you can afford to stock up and see for yourself how it plays out!

Piero Bagnasco, Giovanna and Serena’s father, first acquired the Brandini property in 2007, not long after the founding of Eataly, which he played a role in creating. His long standing partnership with well-known Italian entrepreneur (and fellow food/wine fanatic) Oscar Farinetti has produced countless such collaborations, including Piero’s tenure as CEO of the legendary Barolo estate Fontanafredda. His daughters eventually joined him in the Brandini endeavor, working closely with him to obtain organic certification for the estate’s vineyards in 2011.

The property is part of the ever-expanding Gruppo Fontanafredda, which now includes more than a dozen properties across Italy—including historic Barolo houses Fontanafredda and Borgogno—all of them part of an association called “Vino Libero,” which is focused on sustainability in vineyards and cellars alike. Among the elements of the expansive Vino Libero discipline are the stated desire to eliminate all chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, while also reducing sulfur additions to levels well below what’s allowed by law. Brandini uses the phrase “Organic Human Barolo” to describe its wines; the vineyards are indeed certified organic and the wines are aged in large, used oak casks with minimal amounts of added sulfur at bottling.

Since 2010, Barolo producers have been allowed to append their labels with the name of the wine’s village of origin, which in this case, as is seen on the front label, is the commune of La Morra. In addition to the Brandini cru (which climbs to about 450 meters of elevation, making it one of the highest in all of Barolo), this wine also incorporates fruit from the neighboring “Sant’Anna” vineyard as well as La Morra’s famed “Annunziata” cru. More recently, Agricola Brandini acquired some choice parcels in Serralunga, which have been added to their single-vineyard lineup, but today’s wine is a La Morra “village” wine through and through. The soils here are sandy clay mixed with limestone marl, which typically produces more red-fruited, finessed styles of Barolo; this one has the high-pitched perfume and brightness La Morra is famous for.

Although this 2018 is already singing (especially after some time in the glass), we think the true sweet spot will be at the 10th-birthday mark and for many years beyond that, greatly rewarding those who choose to cellar some. In the glass, it’s a medium-ruby with garnet highlights, with perfumed aromas of red and black cherry, wild strawberry, tobacco, rose petals, clove, and wintry spice. It is medium-bodied and vibrating with energy, with a firm grip and lots of mineral savor on the finish. If you are opening a bottle now, give it at least an hour in a decanter before serving at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems. Equally important at this stage in the wine’s life is a fatty cut of meat to serve alongside it. A well-charred, well-marbled cut of steak would be great, as would some beef shanks prepared as in the attached recipe. With more time in the cellar, this Barolo is going to reward your extremely modest investment many times over. It’s quite amazing that wines with this quality/price ratio still exist. Take advantage of it!

Agricola Brandini, Barolo del Comune di La Morra

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