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"Barolesi! [Citizens of Barolo!] Unite in defense of <BAROLO>
Don't miss the asssembly of the Committee "For Barolo.' (Dated June 6, 1909)"
As you can see, the Committee was made up of several familiar names; some of these families are still making very good wine today. Carlo Barale signed the notice; his father founded the winery in 1870, and Carlo's grandson Sergio took over in 1978.
Barale’s recent wines are still resolutely old-school (30-day macerations with indigenous yeasts, 3 years in 30HL barrels with minimal racking, and no fining or filtration). We are big fans: they are not flamboyant but are consistently expressive of site and vintage, and they clearly have the material and structure to age well for years. Make no mistake, the Barales are producing excellent wines.
Another exciting thing about Barale today is that Sergio's daughters, Eleonora and Gloria, are fully prepared to take over and carry on; having women in line to direct operations is still a relatively rare thing in the wine world. The winery and wines are in good hands, as the younger generation respects tradition and the best qualities of the wines of the past.
The Barales have vines in Bussia Soprana (some adjacent to the fabulous Francesco Clerico), in Cannubi, and in Castellero, where they are the largest owner (Brezza and Giacomo Fenocchio also produce very good Castellero). Castellero covers the northern end of the ridge between Cannubi and Bussia; the soils are the same Sant’Agata fossil marne as Cannubi, and the exposures are very similar – all in all, a very prime location. The vines of Nebbiolo Michet and Rose (from selection massale) range in age from 25 to 40 years old, and have always been farmed organically (and are now certified organic).
My experience of older Barale is limited to Barolo 1961, 1964, and 1971, all of which have been excellent, indicating that the wines are on a par with some of the best of the era. So I’m very excited to have been able to gradually accumulate enough wine to offer a dinner featuring a vertical of Barolo Castellero, and, even better, to do so in the company of Sergio and Eleonara Barale; we do lots of dinners and know that there is no substitute for having the owner / winemaker present. We will taste Barolo 1958, and Barolo Castellero from 1964, 1967, 1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999. Dinner will be at Maialino on January 30th, $300 includes their great food (plenty of maialino!), wine, service, and tax.
Meanwhile, we have fine selection of older Barale to offer – as always, all bottles are guaranteed. Jamie Wolff
For us Barolo geeks, it’s interesting to note that Castellero is geographically related to the much more famous Cannubi vineyard which is just west of Castellero, across a little stream and its valley. Cannubi is on two sides of a ridge, with the best parts facing west and a bit north; all of Castellero faces west. The hill of Castellero is deceptive – until you start walking up, you don’t realize that it’s really very steep. The soils are white limestone, dusty when dry and glue-like when wet, but actually well drained and perfectly composed for growing Nebbiolo. Brezza makes Castellero, but Barale is the benchmark, and Castellero is their most important vineyard; it’s great that they are now farming organically, and the vineyard is more beautiful than ever. I wouldn’t have the nerve to suggest that Castellero has ever produced wines as profound as the best Cannubi, but the Barale’s are certainly making higher quality wine than a number of the owners of Cannubi. The Barale’s are steadfast traditional winemakers, using very long fermentations and aging in used, giant wood barrels. Their wines are not flashy, but are refined and elegant, and they age forever. Like all proper Barolo, the Castellero is a tannic and high-acid wine, and no one in Piedmont (or anywhere else in Italy) would dream of drinking it without food. You will, we hope, at least have some cheese on hand, but the wine wants to be consumed at table with something equally special.