Some of the best wines in Italy come from Piedmont, home to Barolo and Barbaresco, both long-lived, age-worthy wines. The name Piedmont comes from the Medieval Latin Pedemontium or Pedemontis, which translates to “at the foot of the mountains.” All rolling hills and mountains, Piemonte is surrounded by the Alps and borders with France and Switzerland. Although there are many other indigenous grapes like Dolcetto, and Barbera, this is where Nebbiolo thrives.
One testament to the passion and quality of the wines in Piemonte is that most of these great wines come from small family estates composed of relatively small parcels of land, and one producer that I love is Domenico Clerico. He makes spectacular Barolo of extraordinary richness, amazing aromatics, and sensual personalities, and he considers himself a “vine grower” more than a winemaker, believing that a great wine starts with the proper care of the vines. Domenico has been in charge of this 51-acre estate since 1976, and his passion and dedication has taken his wines to the next level.
Not much different in philosophy is Massolino, located in Serralunga d’Alba. Massolino was founded in 1896 by Giovanni Massolino and the first Barolo hit the market in 1911. Since then this estate has made excellent Barolo of consistent quality vintage after vintage. The estate’s philosophy is to make wine with passion, and, like Domenico Clerico, Massolini believes in its land, convinced that its wine shows a deep and tangible link between the vines, hills and winegrowers.
Massolino 2010 Barolo $54.99
This wine has a great nose that is powerful yet elegant. Although this Barolo a 2010, it is approachable with a little decanting. The nose is full of violets, rose petal and hints of cherry. The palate is silky with notes of cherry, spice and nice, juicy acidity that lingers on the finish. This classic Barolo derives from Nebbiolo grapes cultivated from 17 acres of vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba, sitting at an altitude of 320-360 meters above sea level. The range of subzones gives the wine a broad spectrum of perfume, ranging from the classic spicy notes to those of a sweeter, floral and fruity nature. Drink 2016-2027
The 2010 vintage is living up to the hype—this Barolo Ciabot Mentin has a deep dark color that’s dense, extracted and powerful with aromas of dark fruit, black cherries rose petal and earthy tones in the back ground. The palate has some wood tannins spice and slight tar silky with nice acidity that lingers nicely.Barolo “Ciabot Mentin” comes from vines planted at 400 meters above sea level with south-to-southeast exposure and an average age of about 50 years. This is the most representative wine of the estate with explosive aromas of ripe red fruit, licorice and mint. Drink: 2017–2030