Monforte d’Alba (33 wines tasted)
Just as Castiglione Falletto followed on naturally from the village of Barolo, so Monforte was the natural successor to Castiglione. Here though there was less white stone perfume of Castiglione on show, rather more broader, autumnal leaves, brambly/orange skin, chestnut & clove fruit, along with the distinctly tannic, if still invigorating nature of the Monforte Baroli of 2013. Indeed they couldn’t have been more different. It’s unclear whether the dark Monforte fruit character (vs the rose of Castiglione) is due to the uncompromising grey calcareous clay soils, apparently rich in iron, or to its location closer to the high Alta Langa. Single vineyard expressions Mosconi & Ginestra were bold; the latter perhaps finer than the former. But it was 12 examples of Bussia that should have shown off Monforte best. Alas, as with Cannubi of Barolo the day before, Bussia disappointed in 2013, being more lacklustred than Mosconi or Ginestra, & showing less intensity & a too variable quality; indeed it was difficult to pinpoint any standout wines. Perhaps the 2013 September rains had served only to swell the berries, or that the 289ha of Bussia vineyard is (again) quite simply far too big?
Serralunga d’Alba (21 wines tasted)
‘A racy sprint to the finish!’ It was the free draining, high, steep & nutrient-poor calc & sandy soils of Serralunga that coped best with the 2013 conditions & provided this event with probably the most uplifting flight, that refreshed any jaded palates. Certainly the 21 wines tasted showed a classy feel: paler in colour, light garnet red, yet more layered, & with noticeably more freshness & vim. Where Monforte’s wines were more brawny, Serralunga’s had a raciness about them. More sapid than out-&-out tannic, Serralunga’s 2013 Barolo showed a tight minerality & salty exciting red fruit character. Single vineyard expressions were a step-up from the village expressions; Cerretta & Prapò were distinctly different yet neighbours: the former plumier, the latter exotic but also more mineral/chiselled; both were accessible though. But as we climbed the Serralunga ridge tasting examples from Parafada, Lazzarito, Margheria, Briccolina & finally Ornato, so the wines became much more complex & challenging to read, being more high-toned, with a chalky white minerality & nobility to them. This latter group of wines evidently need more time to blossom in bottle.
Producers’ wines tasted: Cascina Mario Fontana, Bartolo Mascarello, David Fletcher, Figli Luigi Oddero, Mauro Sebaste, Réva, Sandrone, Cabutto (Tenuta La Volta), Gianni Canonica, La Spinetta, Castello di Verduno, Ascheri, G.B. Burlotto, F.lli Alessandria, Diego Morra, Agricola Brandini, Trediberri, Oddero, Giovanni Corino, Silvio Grasso, San Biagio, Boglietti, Gagliasso, Alberto Burzi, Cascina Ballarin, Ciabot Berton, Eraldo Viberti, Mauro Molino, Michele Chiarlo, Cordero di Montezemolo, Marcarini, Bovio Gianfranco, Alessandro Veglio, Elio Altare, Renato Corino, Rocche Costamagna, Aurelio Settimo, Marco Marengo, Giuseppe Rinaldi, Le Strette, F.lli Serio e Battista Borgogno, Vietti, Vajra, Virna Borgogno, Rinaldi Francesco, Scarzello, Famiglia Anselma, Einaudi, Cascina Adelaide, Barale Fratelli, Giacomo Fenocchio, Mirafiore Fontanafredda, Brezza, E.Pira di Chiara Boschis, Marchesi di Barolo SPA, Francesco Borgogno, Azelia, Cavallotto, Armando Parusso, Brovia, Rocche Viberti, Gianfranco Alessandria, Diego Conterno, Simone Scaletta, Domenico Clerico, Josetta Saffirio, Giovanni Manzone, Conterno Fantino, Fratelli Seghesio, Giovanni Rocca, Aldo Conterno, Silvano Bolmida, Prunotto, Attilio Ghisolfi, Franco Conterno, Poderi Colla, Rivetto, Massolino, Sukula, Luigi Baudana, Gabutti-Boasso, Ettore Germano, Ceretto, Palladino, Guido Porro, Tiziano Grasso