The Castello di Verduno is one of the historic castles of Barolo, originally built in 1500, and thanks to the Burlotto family it also seems set for a glittering future. Nebbiolo was first vinified here in 1838 under the new ownership of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy. In 1909 the castle was acquired by the Burlotto family. It was in the 1950s that the Commendatore Giovanni Battista Burlotto, returning from Eritrea, set about restoring the castle to its former glory. Today his daughters run the estate. The Castello’s ten hectares of vineyard spread across Barbaresco and Verduno, the northernmost Barolo commune where the proximity to the river results in warm days but cool nights. Their top wines come from two of the region’s most hallowed vineyards Verduno’s Monvigliero and Barbaresco’s Rabaja. Apart from making fabulous Nebbiolos, the Burlottos are also arch-exponents of the rare Pelaverga variety. This fascinating red grape can only be found in Verduno, where it has been co-planted since the 1600s. It was in danger of dying out, however, until Castello di Verduno took the brave step of being the first to dedicate single vineyard plantings to the variety, in 1972. Success soon followed for the alluring, fruity and peppery reds it produced culminating in 1995 with the award of its very own DOC, Verduno. Interestingly the Burlottos also make a tiny quantity of excellent white made from the same variety, a blanc de noirs, that offers crisp clear fruit and herbal flavours. The wine-making here is traditional; soft, slow fermentations with 25-40 days of maceration on the skins followed by ageing in large old Slavonian oak casks, 24 months for the cru wines and 3 years for the cru riservas. These are refined, spirited, vital Barolos and Barbarescos that have an elegance that makes them very eminently drinkable young, yet with the balance and nerve to allow for long ageing.
Piedmont sitting at the foot of the mountains is justly regarded as one of, if not the finest wine growing region in Italy. The noblest grape found in the region in undoubtedly Nebbiolo, with the DOCG's of Barolo and Barbaresco at the forefront of production. Barbera and Dolcetto come in second and third, and being earlier ripening are often found located on those sides of the hills that receive less sunshine. The wines from Piedmont are intrinsically food friendly wines, a fact understandable given the culinary strength of the area.