Related to Verduno’s famous Il Commendatore G.B. Burlotto, who supplied the House of Savoia from his estate during the 1800s, it was Andrea Burlotto, his great grandson, who founded Cascina Massara in the early 1900s. Andrea fathered seven children (2 daughters Giuseppina & Luciana, & 5 sons Francesco, GianCarlo, Giacomino, Sergio & GianBattista) & started bottling the Barolo in the early 1970s, before passing away in 1995; leaving the 40ha mixed farm estate to his 7 offspring to manage.
This they did as a collective until 2013 when GianCarlo & his son Gianluca (left), a graduate of Alba’s Umberto 1 Wine School who joined the family estate in 2002, decided to manage separately 10ha of vines, all in the comune of Verduno, & to focus their energies on producing wine. 2013 was also the vintage in which Giancarlo & Gianluca Burlotto first released a Barolo Massara, from the fine old parcel that lies high up below the village of Verduno itself (arriving from Roddi). In vintage 2015 they also produced their inaugural Barolo Monvigliero from a tiny parcel in affitto in the heart of the famous vineyard. The Burlotto family also own (Nebbiolo da Barolo) vines in the vineyards of Castagni, Neiranne & Campasso.
In the meantime: in 2000 the Burlottos bought a new destemmer; in 2007 they built a new cantina in the centre of the village, attached to the historic cellar, & also invested in several new 75HL Garbellotto botti, plus a new pneumatic press into the bargain! Gianluca has a sister Claudia. Gianluca is married to Carla of Gallo & they have two small children Federico & Anna.
Vinification is traditional. Nebbiolo da Barolo: co-fermented fruit (for the Barolo classico), stainless-steel open-vat temperature controllato (c. 28 degrees) followed by circa 15 days pumping over/remontaggio, no submerged cap maceration or punching down (i.e. very gentle), followed malolactic in stainless steel, & by 36 months in botti grandi of 19HL, 50HL & 75HL with minimal racking; the most recent botti bought in 2008.
2019 Dolcetto d’Alba – tasted 12 Feb’20, bottled Dec’19, DIAM3. 13%, from the Burlotto family’s vineyards Campasso & Santa Vecchia, on the NW facing slopes of Verduno, well-ventilated above the river Tanaro, giving pretty fresh violet, white pepper aromatics, the palate’s open & inviting, juicy, the gypsum soils perhaps behind that spiciness; refreshing, rose-cream fragrance & soft Verduno immediacy! Very easy on the eye.
2018 Barbera d’Alba – tasted 12 Feb’20, from tank, 14.5%, TA6.5, from their Campasso & (25yo) Massara vineyards, no Superiore to be released in vintage 2018, so that make’s for a super Barbera! Indeed it’s deep, dark Maresca cherried & clovey! Difficult to read from tank, but prodigious, juicy & generous!
2019 Verduno Pelaverga – tasted 12 Feb’20, from tank, prior to a March’20 bottling (7k), 13.5%, TA5.10, predominantly from the family’s Campasso vineyard (as the Massara piece was replanted with Nebbiolo da Barolo!) hence the lower alcohol & pretty aromatics! Pale pink, bright with white pepper spice of course, divertente, fragrant with sapid/salty rose petal notes. Looking forward to trying it in bottle.
2018 Langhe Nebbiolo – tasted 12 Feb’20, from tank, prior to a March’20 bottling (8k), 14%, a Verduno blend of their vines in vigne Castagni & Neirane, aged this year for just 5 mths (not 18 mths as in 2017!) in botte grande, hence giving more freshness & crunch, that distinct Ribena ribes colour, juiciness & Verduno softness…can’t wait to taste in bottle!
2016 Barolo, Verduno – tasted 12 Feb’20 from 2 x 70HL botte grande, prior to an April’20 bottling (dite-crociate!), 14.5%, TA5.40, an all Verduno blend from their vineyards Neirane, Castagni, plus a top dressing of Massara, aged for 30 mths in 70HL botte grande. A fine cherry stone weave, lots of easy Verduno charm, having been evidently refreshed by the river Tanaro below, glacier rose petal, understated, netto/tidy…can’t wait to taste in bottle!
2015 Barolo – 14.5%, tasted Aug’19 just prior to bottling, a co-fermented blend of fruit from circa 70% Castagni, 20% Neiranne, & 10% Massara, aged for 36 months in 75HL botti (bought in 2008): classic 2015 strawberry red garnet, perhaps darker thanks to the red clay soils of Castagni, that lie on the border with those of La Morra; indeed it’s perhaps that La Morra influence through Castagni that gives the nose a broad, rich complexion of dried roses & pulpy brambly fruit, verging on a sense of terra cotta/baked earth, but then Neiranne gives a peachy levity character to the blend & a top dressing of Massara brings freshness & distinction; to taste, the Castagni fruit is generous, pulpy & accessible. There’s a lovely, simple fluidity to this classic Barolo, that shows soft fruit tannins, weight of fruit, charm & plenty of highlights that come with the blend of the three Verduno vineyards. Gianluca is particularly pleased with how their 2015 Barolo has turned out; he said they had no problems with stuck fermentation, with the wine fermenting to dryness quickly, perhaps aided by the temperature controlled environment, selected yeast & modest maceration time.
2014 Barolo – 14%, tasted July’19, bottled August’18, a traditional blend of Verduno vineyards: 50% Massara (45yo), plus 50% Castagni & Neiranne (12yo). Classically 2014, darker in colour than the 2013, with benchmark tea-leaf & rose petal notes, the palate gleaming with cool crunch, very fine, with masses of cocoa powder & dried rose fragrance
2013 Barolo – 14%, tasted July’19, a blend of Verduno vineyards Castagni & Neiranne; pale in colour, fine, delicate, bright fragolini/wild strawberry, talc & musky notes; fresh, taut – poised. Neiranne giving a white stone complexion, while Castagni is arguably responsible for the pulpy orange peel notes.
2016 Barolo Massara, Verduno – tasted 12 Feb’20 from 1 x 50HL botte grande, prior to an April’20 bottling (dite-crociate!), 14.5%, from their fabulous, prime, 40 yo plot 300m asl that faces pure East, catching all the morning sun, their rose petal aromatic protected from the afternoon heat by the village’s ‘belvedere’ & wood above! The Burlotto family have the top spot, that’s for sure, on creamy marne sant’agata fossili soils. And this shows in this focussed vintage: the colour is more complete, intense; the nose (from botte) more complex & compact, measured. To taste, it’s re-assuringly focussed, with a juicy core, full & sapid…can’t wait to try it once bottled!
2015 Barolo Massara – 14.5%, tasted Aug’19 just prior to bottling, indeed having just been racked into a 50HL Garbellotto botte; vinified in exactly the same way as the Barolo & Barolo Monvigliero, even at a glance one can see that the 2015 Barolo Massara is lighter in colour, a pretty, bright pale red; the nose similarly is completely different from that of the classic Barolo: ethereal/esile, packed with nuance, with light red, cherry stone fruit, delicate, scented, intriguing, exciting…to taste, it’s slender, weightless, with a peachy-like fruit character, & freshness that comes from 45yo vines & a prime ESE aspect. Very fine & lacy.
2016 Barolo Monvigliero – not yet tasted, as Gianluca’s glass ‘ladro'(pipette) for sampling from barrel, had just broken alas!! More news to follow!
2015 Barolo Monvigliero – 14.5%, tasted Aug’19 just prior to bottling, from a single 19HL botte grande as the old vineyard they’re renting measures 0.25ha, & sits plum in the middle of the original Monvigliero, facing full south! Difficult to read at such a young age, but compared to the Massara, one senses the depth of character & (old vine) roots – indeed it’s so old this vineyard that they are still using cane poles! Dark, yet bright, a deep garnet red; the nose is richly brooding, a fairly thick compote of kirsch cherry, mulberry fruit, even the hint of cugnà (reduced grape must jam) the tannins so silky & ripe as to be invisible, yet all the while refreshing & exciting…emozionante!
2013 Barolo Massara – 14.5%, tasted July’19, from circa 1ha of 45yo vines in the prime spot high up under the Verduno belvedere & bosco, at c.300m asl, facing ESE, on marne sant-agata fossili soils, there’s a bright rose red intensity not visible in the classic Barolo; the nose is beautifully scented, esile, energetic with white talc, terra bianca & little red fruit notes, notably more sapid, rose petal & much more refined also. Distinguished. Only 7k bts produced.