Spotlight on Monvigliero, Barolo’s most elegant cru

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

12 February 2020

Monvigliero lies in the north-eastern corner of the Barolo DOCG, within the Verduno MGA.

It wasn’t long ago that Monvigliero was deemed too cool an area for growing quality Nebbiolo grapes. As average temperatures got higher however, the elegance that Monvigliero fruit can potentially express in the glass has begun to attract much interest. Today, 15 different producers boast Monvigliero on one of their labels, with a lot more due to come in the next few years.

Taking advantage of a recent London tasting organised by Italian wine specialist Walter Speller, we sampled a lineup of Monvigliero Barolos, including some old vintages, and selected the best in show.

Comm. G.B. Burlotto
Available through Lea & Sandeman, Cambridge Wine Merchants

Fifth-generation winemaker Fabio Alessandria focuses on producing a very aromatic style, by adopting the family tradition of whole bunch fermentation and maturation in large wooden barrels. Most vintages are fermented with indigenous yeast.

The 2016 has a hypnotic nose of sour cherry, rose, savoury herbs, rhubarb and a hint of white pepper. The palate is light and charming, with polished tannins. The 2009 shows the sign of a – well-handled – warm vintage, revealing all the potential of this outstanding wine. Still fragrant on the nose, there are added aromas of cola and red apple, while the palate is a bit fleshier than the 2016.

Arnaldo Rivera
Available through Raeburn Fine Wines

This co-op, founded in 1985, today works with about 300 families, delivering fruit from a maximum of 0.5 hectares each. The wine is made as any other cru label of the winery is: about 25 days of maceration and fermentation, then goes into French oak tonneaux and large casks for 32 months.

The house style favours intensity and spiciness. The 2016 is particularly vibrant, showing notes of clove, strawberry and pomegranate. On the palate the spice is tuned up, with black pepper complementing the flavour profile. The 2015 displays a little more complexity, with added citrus and dried red berries aromas.

Diego Morra
Available through Asset Wines

Third-generation Diego Morra manages 30ha of vineyards distributed across Verduno, La Morra, and Roddi. One third of these is used for the estate’s wines, of which the Monvigliero Barolo is the top label; the remaining two thirds are sold off. The cellar is currently being renovated, which will enable Morra to retain more of its own fruit and increase production.

The 2016 Monvigliero Riserva is matured in second or third use tonneaux for 24 to 28 months before bottling. It’s vinous, with a marked saline minerality, a touch of almond and cocoa beans. The palate is relatively soft, with a pleasant toasty finish. One that can be enjoyed now with no need for cellaring.

Giovanni Sordo
Available through Carson Wines

We are in traditionalist territory here. Four-week maceration and vinification in steel tank using the characteristic cappello sommerso technique, which helps to fix colour and round off the tannins. Maturation happens in large wooden barrels of 50hl - 100hl produced by renowned coopers Garbellotto.

Giovanni Sordo manages a sizable 53ha of vineyards and makes eight cru labels, including a Monvigliero. The 2016 is concentrated and meaty, but it’s with a bit of age that this wine really shows its potential. The 2009 is particularly expressive, with complex aromas ranging from dried red berries to nuts, and jamon to mushroom.

Poderi Roset
(Not currently represented in the UK)

Poderi Roset kicked off production in 1993. Today, it owns 15ha of land planted to vine, though only 0.41ha go into the Monvigliero label. Maceration lasts for about 30 days, then the wine spends 18 months in old tonneaux and 18 in oak barrels (half French, half Slavonian). It's bottled unfiltered and released a year later.

The 2013 has an intriguing, fragrant nose of watermelon, orange zest and vanilla, showing a gentle toastiness on the palate. The 2012 is meatier, woodier, with flavours of prune, maraschino cherry, cola and wild herbs, with just a hint of liquorice.

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