Elio Altare's elegant Barolo
With the taste of Nebbiolo still lingering on the palate, we are thrilled to offer a mini-vertical of Elio Altare’s Barolo DOCG. We were greeted at St James’s St yesterday morning by an ebullient Silvia Altare, who came to remind us just how magnificent her father’s wines are. Indeed, Elio Altare is one of Italy’s greatest winemakers. One of a small handful of growers who pioneered the “Barolo revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, Altare was instrumental in resurrecting the region’s fortunes and developing the more gentle, elegant, pretty style of Barolo that is so highly sought-after by collectors today. In Silvia’s words, wines that “people actually wanted to drink.”
The estate moved towards organic winemaking shortly after Elio took over and the focus in the winery became that of retaining purity and acidity. Short macerations on the skin and temperature controlled fermentations in rotary fermenters allows for kinder extraction of tannin combined with bright acidities, two things that Nebbiolo has in spades. The resulting wines are gentler, softer and silkier than their predecessors and possess more of that heady, lifted florality that top Nebbiolo has become synonymous with. The estate now uses entirely French oak, drawing inspiration from Burgundy, and chooses not to filter, fine or clarify prior to bottling. When the revolution began he was called crazy, but forty years later there is no doubt that Elio Altare’s wines are some of the very finest Barolo produced today.
We are extremely lucky to have some terrific back vintages of Altare’s Barolo DOCG, a classic blend produced from 20-30 year old vines from three of Barolos top communes – La Morra, Castiglione Falleto and Serralunga d'Alba.
We tasted the 2008 alongside the 2006 yesterday and both were showing exceptionally well. Classic Barolo vintages; they can be drunk now, however maximum enjoyment will no doubt come from cellaring these a little longer