Tall building in the background of a vineyard

Piedmont – Three estates you should really know about

15 March 2023

Mark Dearing

As Piedmont’s star continues to rise and allocations are wrestled out of the most celebrated cellars, there is a tide of quality, family estates quietly going about their business with all the same diligence and care for their wines. Here, the site-specificity and drinkability remain the pillars of their output far ahead of scores or lofty market prices. We believe that the three producers we highlight today are performing at the highest levels, and have everything in place to become stars of the not-too-distant future.

Castello di Verduno

The Castello di Verduno is one of the historic castles of Barolo, originally built in 1500. Thanks to the Burlotto family it also seems set for a glittering future. Nebbiolo was first vinified here in 1838 under the 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. 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. The Verduno vineyards come from the mother’s side (Gabriella Burlotto) and the Barbaresco sites from the father (Franco Bianco) whose Barbaresco estate was previously known as Luigi Bianco. Today, their daughters run the estate with Mario Andrion in place as head winemaker. The winemaking here is traditional; soft, slow fermentations with 25-60 days of maceration on the skins followed by ageing in large old Slavonian oak casks, generally around 24 months for the cru wines and 3 years for the cru Riservas, although increasingly the Riservas are being bottled according to the profile of the vintage rather than to any strict formula. These are refined, spirited, vital Barolos and Barbarescos that have an elegance that makes them eminently drinkable young, yet with the balance and nerve to allow for long ageing.

Family sitting on a couch

Barbaresco, Rabaja, Castello di Verduno, 2018, 6x75cl

Barbaresco, Rabaja, Riserva, Castello di Verduno, 2015, 6x75cl

Barolo, Massara, Castello di Verduno, 2017, 6x75cl

Barolo, Riserva, Monvigliero, Castello di Verduno, 2015, 6x75cl

Piero Busso

Pierguido Busso is driving quality to greater heights at this top-drawer, small family Barbaresco estate through a return to more traditional winemaking practices. These, they believe, chime best with their holdings in some of the most iconic and historic crus of Barbaresco. Founded by Guido Busso in 1948, and taken over by Piero Busso in the late 1970s after Guido’s died suddenly, the domaine is based in Neive and has at its core old Nebbiolo vines planted in the Albesani vineyard opposite the winery. The first vintage of “Albesani” as a single cru was 1982. The estate's fine holdings don't stop at Albesani, however, as they also boast parcels in Bricco Mondino, Gallina (both in Neive) and Treiso's San Stunet which were brought in to the fold in 1985, 1999 and 2000, respectively. Winemaking is long and slow, up to 45 days maceration on the skins, gently extracted using just pumpovers in the main, only breaking the cap 2-3 times through the entire fermentation process. Ageing is carried out in 25hl slavonian oak casks for two years. In the best vintages, Pierguido has set about bottling Riserva labels exclusively from the oldest plots in Gallina and Albesani in homage to his grandfather Guido who always believed in the greatness of Albesani. Expressive and seductive, all these wines have something to say about where they are from.

Two men standing in a vineyard

Barbaresco, Albesani-Borgese, Piero Busso, 2017, 6x75cl

Barbaresco, San Stunet, Piero Busso, 2015, 6x75cl

Barbaresco, Gallina, Piero Busso, 2014, 6x75cl

Barbaresco, Albesani, VV, Piero Busso, 2012, 6x75cl

Figli Luigi Oddero

An estate going places fast, we believe Figli Luigi Oddero has the potential to be one of the very great estates of the Langhe. Its story started in 2006 when Luigi split off from the Poderi Oddero estate with 30ha. Since Luigi’s passing in 2009, wife Lena runs the azienda alongside children Maria and Giovanni. Dante Scaglione, of Bruno Giacosa fame, was brought in as a consultant to help get the estate back on track a few years later, and in 2016 Francesco Versio joined the team as full-time head winemaker. Also formerly of Giacosa, Francesco is considered one of the brightest young winemaking talents of the region. Fermentations are carried out in stainless steel with long extractions via submerged cap when the skins are in good health, or solely pumpovers in more delicate vintages, followed by ageing in large old oak casks for up to three years. Blessed with some truly great vineyards across Santa Maria di La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba and Treso in Barbaresco, including Rocche Rivera (in the Scarrone MGA), Broglio, Vigna Rionda and Rombone. “FLO” as they are affectionately known, produce exciting, clear-cut wines with great intensity, power, and purity of flavour.

Woman working in a vineyard

Nebbiolo, Langhe, Luigi Oddero, 2018, 6x75cl

Barbaresco, Rombone, Luigi Oddero, 2018, 6x75cl

Barolo, Rocche Rivera, Luigi Oddero, 2017, 6x75cl

Barolo, Vigna Rionda, Luigi Oddero, 2014, 6x75cl