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Tasting: Fratelli Alessandria Barolo 2012

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I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’m a relative newcomer to Barolo, and Northern Italian wines more broadly.

Like many before me, it didn’t take long for me to be completely and utterly hooked once I had my first.

For most of my drinking life, I concentrated on Australian wines with a smidgen of French stuff (mostly inexpensive and, safe to say, terrible) along the way. Eventually I found German riesling, Alsacian Gew├╝rz and Chianti, but it took a long time to discover the northern Italian wines and, in many respects, I’m only now just scratching the surface.

I don’t think anyone ever forgets their first Barolo. I’ve written before about the Nebbiolo grape, but Barolo wines seem to take it to the next level. Maybe it’s the long and slow aging in, generally, large format oak, maybe it’s the extra aging in bottle, but there’s just something about Barolo that hits you right in the feels.

Fratelli Alessandria makes several different Barolos. Three of them are site specific, this one is a blend of several vineyards with each bringing their own qualities to the wine.

The vineyards all sit around 250 – 450 meters above sea level on the various slopes of the hills around Monforte d’Alba and Verduno with the average vine age around 25 years. The base wines are warm fermented with maceration time of around a fortnight, then into large format oak (Slavonian and French) for the next three years and a further year in bottle before being released.

Typical pale ruby colour with garnet edges that is unmistakably Barolo. These wines always look older than they actually are, which has always added to their lustre for me, and the lightness of the colour only serves to hide the power and depth of the wine within.

Aromas nearly leap out of the glass and all red fruits – some cherry, redcurrant, and strawberry, followed by more complex, slightly liquorice and dried herbs: thyme and rosemary.

I could smell this wine for days.

Higher end of medium body on the palate and pretty well balanced with good acidity, high alcohol and grippy tannins. Red fruits again dominate with redcurrants and strawberry, a slightly meaty/gamey note and the lightest of charred wood character from the oak. Cranberry and blueberry persist through the fairly long finish.

I love this wine. I’ve always said that if I could drink only two wines until my dying day they would be white and red Burgundy. Barolo, as a style, is very quickly knocking on that door and something tells me it won’t be long before it knocks it down completely.


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