n the words of Paolo Cordero di Montezemolo, a patriarch of
Cordero di Montezemolo’s successors at his eponymous winery,
Giovanni and Alberto, agree that nebbiolo, the grape in Barolo and
Barbaresco, needs special expertise. It’s a difficult grape to grow,
requiring appropriate soils and sun exposure to mitigate the wine
becoming overly tannic and tight. These same characteristics
enable well-made nebbiolo to age and delight for decades.
Typical of the many multigenerational wineries in Roero and
the Langhe hills of Barolo and Barbaresco where the controlled
appellations of DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e
garantita) nebbiolo wines are made, Isabella Boffa Oddero also
emphasizes the careful vineyard management and winemaking
skills her grandfather modeled at Oddero Poderi e Cantine.
“The point of wine is to express different vineyards and different
moments in time,” says Oddero.
A new generation of Piedmont producers has improved quality
in the vineyard and cellar. An overview of several vintners manifests their intense focus on familial heritage while establishing
creative innovative approaches to nebbiolo winemaking.
For the past several years Alberto Cordero has served as
president of Albeisa, the Union of Alba Wine Producers, a
nonprofit association. The Albeisa mission is to promote wines
from the Alba area, protect trademarks, maintain production
statistics and monitor quality standards. A special Albeisa
wine bottle marks the authenticity of these wines.
Albeisa sponsors Nebbiolo Prima, a program for international
journalists to taste 600 of the newly released DOCG nebbiolo
wines in Alba. In May, 94 writers blind-sampled the latest wines
and then visited wineries to explore the vineyards and discuss
the wines with producers.
“We want the participants to touch the vines—this creates a
connection with the wine and winery,” says Chiara Boschis, owner/
winemaker of E. Pira e Figli (Pira) in the La Morra commune
(village) of the Barolo district.
CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO
At the May event, Alberto Cordero set out a rare vertical
tasting of Cordero di Montezemolo by decade, beginning in
1957. “The best way to describe classic older Barolos is fresh
leather, tobacco and softer tannins than the new releases—but
they are still alive,” he says.
Cordero represents the 19th generation of producers on the
property, which has belonged to the Falletti family in the La
Morra commune since 1340. From the top of the Gettera hill
crowned by a majestic 150-year-old cedar of Lebanon, the vista
from Cordero’s winery covers much of the Barolo area.
Cordero’s family developed a special winemaking style that
resulted in less-tannic wines. Rather than the usual practice
of aging wine longer than required in barrel, Alberto’s father
Giovanni moved his wine to concrete or stainless-steel tanks
after the minimal time in barrel—followed by bottle aging for
up to two years.
“In wines such as our Barolo Monfalletto, we look for balance.
Only some of our parcels need new oak barrels—we don’t want to
overpower the wine with oak,” says Cordero.
E. PIRA E FIGLI
In 1981, when Boschis took over E. Pira e Figli winery in the
Cannubi commune of Barolo, people considered her “exotic fruit.”
“After college, I asked my father why men passed on their wineries
only to their sons,” she says. “I was pleased when he purchased
the winery for me.”
Boschis worked hard, and within a few vintages was accepted
by the group known as the “Barolo Boys,” men who inherited
wineries from their parents and innovated in the vineyard and cellar.
The impact of the group is portrayed in the documentary of the
same name, released in April 2016, in which Boschis is featured.
A new book by Suzanne Hoffman, Labor of Love: Wine Family
Women of Piemonte (Under Discovered Publishing LLC, 2016),
features Boschis, including a photo of her hands on the cover.
The Barolo Cannubi that Boschis crafts has power and
complexity yet retains elegance. She has influenced many
women vintners in the Langhe, including Bruna Grimaldi of
her eponymous winery who crafts a softer style Barolo from
the cru (vineyard) Badarina.
Boschis’ focus on sustainable growing practices has also
impacted the region. After converting her vineyards to organic
standard, she has convinced most of the other 26 growers in
Cannubi to do the same.
PODERI E CANTINA ODDERO
The first bottle under the Poderi e Cantina Oddero label
was made in 1878. But owner/winemaker Cristina Oddero has
discovered records that show her family sold wine in the 1700s.
Oddero follows what she calls “tradunt” (to hand down and
teach). “I use mostly neutral oak barrels to respect the terroir,
and only sell when ready,” she says.
oPPosi Te, CloCKwise From ToP: 1) a view of Castiglione Faletto from the
Paolo manzone winery. 2) Giorgio Pelissero at the Pelissero winery. 3) Cordero di
montezemolo barolo 1957 and 1967. 4) Cristina and Pietro oddero at Poderi e
Cantine oddero. 5) Pio Cesare wine tasting.