Marchesi Alfieri La Tota Barbera d'Asti 2016

Ex-Col d'Orcia winemaker Mario Olivero has revitalised this historic estate. Superb vineyard, highly refined winemaking and total belief in Barbera are the keynotes. Alfiera is the splendid top wine. Look also for the super-value Barbera La Tota. DECANTER

It is always hard to tell the story of the wines from Marchesi Alfieri properly. I would like to call the winemaker here, Mario, the wizard of Barbera but that doesn’t quite fit. He manages to coax something extra from this variety that puts him up with the very best producers in the region, the top small handful. But it’s not magic, it’s the attention to every single detail, from the vineyard to the bottling he is fastidious. Technically savvy and extremely thoughtful he is still questioning and tweaking after two decades at the helm of the Alfieri property. But this doesn’t explain why the wines sing like they do either. There are a lot of winemakers out there who are just as technically proficient whose wines don’t stack up to Mario’s. He is that rare vigneron who combines a deep understanding of his craft and an inherent sense of what to do and when, he is relaxed and sure of his abilities and the wines feel the same way. They are a little bit magical but also whistle clean and laden with character. Maybe the term alchemist best suits the man who turns the common Barbera grape in to gold?

Outside of his native Piedmont he is not as well known as he should be but here in the heartland of Barolo he is regarded as a bit of a super star. Every producer you meet will tell you just how good they think his wines are. We just finished tasting through his new wines and a small vertical of the La Tota which he bottles under screw cap for us in Oz. A top up of 2016, which is on the water now and due any moment is sensational which is to be expected from Alfieri and what is perhaps the best vintage in the last ten years or so.

We have never been shy about our admiration for these wines but I have to stress that this incarnation of La Tota is even better than usual. In fact it’s about as good as it gets. It rivals the 2013 in my mind for the best La Tota to date. Interestingly we tasted that wine in the vertical and today it looks fantastic, showing all the early promise and demonstrates clearly that while these wines are engaging when young they also develop beautifully over a handful of years, if that is your bent.

We are very excited to have a little more of this wine available to offer out to the loyal fans and are able to offer it at the same price as the original pre arrival deal. This really is one of the great bargains of the wine scene.