A happy group at Burlotto, with maestro Fabio Alessandria at the head of the table.

Burlotto, Canonica, Brovia

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Despite the commercial temptation to which a merchant might be subject, not every vintage can be our favorite. 2011 in Piedmont is not an easy year for us due to the heat of the season, which resulted in many full-bodied, even over-blown wines, with quite high alcohol levels. It’s similar in some ways to 2007, but we do prefer 2011 because the wines are better balanced and have better phenolic ripeness. In fact, there are some fantastic 2011s, once again demonstrating that good winemakers make good wine. In technical terms, Brovia ‘knocked it out of the park’; ditto Burlotto, and Canonica (and G. Rinaldi, and Ferdinando Principiano). The Brovia single-vineyard wines are coming this fall, but in the meantime we have the amazing 2011 Barolo, which (along with the Burlotto Barolo classico) has to be one of the best values for quality in the region. Burlotto produced some of their best wines ever in 2011, a remarkable achievement. We always have a soft spot for Gianni Canonica’s wine; his 2011 is on par with previous vintages. Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2011 Barolo

Fabio Alessandria says that the component vineyards for this wine gave “fruit with perfect maturity.” Certainly the wine shows great balance, elegance, and depth, along with good freshness, lift, and energy that runs counter to many 2011s. In May it was quite approachable – a wine merchant’s dream, in fact. Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2011 Barolo Acclivi

The so-called Market remains a thing of mystery (the Wine Market, that is; forget knowing anything about any other Market); somehow I think we cruise alongside, part of the Market but not really of it. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and in any case this isn’t a statement of superiority –but the quantities we get of most of what we sell are so small that our enthusiasms (or lack of enthusiasm for other wine) is hardly going to move the needle on any meter. For example, we have 24 bottles of Acclivi to sell, and not more than 60 of any other Burlotto wine. We’re told that The Market was crazy for 2010 Barolo, a vintage I also prefer, but one that was more austere and obviously structured than 2011, and which will need much more time in the cellar; the good 2011s, like this Barolo Acclivi, combine reasonable elegance and structure with ripeness and approachability. I found the Acclivi to be a classic wine, in a rich and suave mode. What’s not to like? Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2011 Barolo Cannubi

Obviously this is a very fine wine. Everyone says so. I think maybe I’m in the minority because I always prefer Monvigliero. Subtlety is lost on me. The Cannubi – I do like it, don’t get me wrong – shows much more vintage character. It’s 15.5 alcohol. It has a dense core, dark fruit character, and quite pronounce tannin. It’s a wine for the cellar, for the back corner of the cellar where you won’t touch it for a good 15 years. If you don’t ever touch the wine, some grandchild will end up being very happy to find it. Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2011 Barolo Monvigliero

Another great, superb, over-the-top-good vintage for Monvigliero. As usual. And I’m prepared to dance, to steal from our friends and shout glorious, boldface adjectives of praise in all caps, to foam at the mouth, just to try to say: If you have admired this wine in the past, even a little, then you must have some of the 2011. Jamie Wolff

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Brovia 2011 Barolo

2011 Barolo is an amazingly elegant and – sorry, but I can’t think of a more accurate way to say it – classy wine. Deep, restrained, sophisticated (sorry, again!); it’s very savory and subtle, not showing a lot of fruit. There’s no heat, the tannins are beautifully ripe and velvety, and it has great length. Absolutely classic fine wine – amazing wine, actually. Jamie Wolff

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Canonica, Giovanni 2011 Barolo Paiagallo

Typically austere, and very classic, very much a Canonica wine, and actually quite delicious. Good cherry fruit, intense but ripe tannin; not at all hot, and light-medium bodied, which is not an easy trick to pull off in 2011. I am really happy with this wine! Jamie Wolff

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