Mauro Veglio and Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2017's

As I sit here writing this offer, it’s appropriate that all I can see out my window is heavy fog or nebbia as the Italians call it. The legendary fog of Langhe hills gave its name to the famed nebbiolo grape which makes Barolo what it is so offering Barolo on a day like this seems like perfect correlation!

To say 2017 Barolo is something of a miracle vintage is an understatement. I remember sweating it out in the July of that year in the region, worrying that growers would struggle to produce fruit that wasn’t sunburnt or lacking natural acidity. The fact that the wines that have emerged from the vintage are ripe but fresh and energetic, prove to me that the longer I’m in wine, the less I know! Having said that, I’m happy to be proved wrong by the plethora of excellent-to-brilliant Baroli on offer. No, it isn’t a repeat of the 2016 vintage but, I tell you what, the wines are far more approachable than the 2016s and the crus lack nothing of their vineyard fingerprint. Expressive, transparent and approachable, I’m not sure you can ask for much more of young Barolo.

OK, so let’s get into the first arrivals and, as always, we begin with the wonderful wines of Mauro Veglio (La Morra) and Gianfranco Alessandria (Monforte d’Alba). These are two of the most charming and welcoming families in the Langhe, making some of the best value and most expressive Barolo in the zone. In the modern history of Barolo, both Mauro and Gianfranco have been important figures, learning at the feet of greats such as Elio Altare (the Veglios and Altares share a compound overlooking the Arborina vineyard) and carrying forward a vision for Barolo that’s expressive of the individual cru but also embracing the central tenets of clean, controlled winemaking.

While much has been made of the divide between modern and traditional approaches to winemaking, these distinctions are now more and more blurry as both camps continue to borrow from the other to suit a vision of pure expression. The new generation of winemakers across the Langhe operates in both camps as they see fit, unhindered by historical battles over style. Indeed, in both of the estates in question here the succession planning that’s gone on in recent times is the embodiment of that sentiment with the increasing influence on styling by nephew Alessandro Veglio and daughter Marta Alessandria.

​​​​​​In the case of Alessandro, he has merged his own small estate into Mauro and Daniela’s. It’s a formidable and exciting development, teaming Mauro’s obsession in producing perfect fruit with Alessandro’s tweaking of winemaking practices. Vertical fermenters, longer macerations, less small and new oak (and even some botte used for the new cru in Paiagallo) have resulted in greater purity and clarity in the wines. But it’s not all about the technical side. Alessandro’s parcel of Gattera from a cooler part of this vineyard has meant that cru is better than it has ever been. Similarly, his decision to include a large portion of Roero fruit in the Langhe Nebbiolo is a master stroke and improved a wine that one would think was as good as it gets! To me, the small amount of wine made in partnership so far, is super exciting. The strengths of both men is producing quite special wines that will elevate Veglio even further up the ranks of the best of La Morra.

Over in Monforte, the story is similar although one could argue the tweaking in winemaking has been well underway with Gianfranco already. He has progressively been reducing oak contact and while Monforte fruit is far better equipped to absorb the modern styling (i.e oak), this has resulted in more precise and expressive wines. Under Marta, this evolution will continue and her own contribution, Barolo En Piasi – hand destemmed, longer on skins – already shows her thinking is to push the wines to a more demure, silken and aromatically pure direction. Already, the wine has attracted huge critical acclaim and this is only in its fourth year of production!

It’s already a long rant but these are two of the best sets of people, making two of the best sets of modern leaning wines in the Langhe hills that I know. The fact the succession planning looks set to improve them even further is exciting for anyone who loves the wines already.