A dinner with the wines of Burlotto


The Brilliance of Burlotto

I recently had the chance to spend dinner with 4 wines from one of my favorite producers;; Commendatore G.B. Burlotto. Not only does Burlotto produce traditionally styled Barolo, but from some truly great vineyards. Their trademark wines come from the village of Verduno. Monvigliero is the pinnacle of their craft, but the more approachable Neirane, also from Verduno, serves as a great introduction to both the house style and the alluringly different wines of Verduno.

In addition to these two, rather unique olive and herb scented wines, Burlotto also produces an exemplary Barolo Cannubi as well as a full range of other red varieties.

This evening I was more interested in the four wines in front of me, the 1995 Monvigliero and Neirane, as well as the 1996 Cannubi and Neriane. Each bottle performed splendidly, expressing not only the vintages character, but also the terroir of each vineyard beautifully. These are wines that can be deceptive in their youth, seemingly lean and sometimes more savory than fruity but with time their inner beauty is revealed. The balance and freshness of Burlotto Barolo, in fact all of their wines, is a testament not only to the traditional ways of wine production, but also to the care and attention the family focuses on each step in the winemaking process.

These may not be wines for everyone, but their natural transparency and pure expression of terroir strike a chord with me and I urge anyone with an interest in Piedmontese wines to sample a few. Don’t be too quick to judge the wines of Burlotto though. Like all the best of Piemonte, they take a bit of time to  open up and reveal themselves but once they do you can’t help but love their honesty, generosity and authenticity.

For more information on Burlotto, the wines and techniques involved please see: Step back in time with Commendatore G.B. Burlotto

1995 Burlotto Barolo Neirane

This opens like a remarkable example of Cote Rotie with notes of olives, flowers, red raspberry fruit and an undertone of dried strawberry. With air notes of tar and tobacco emerge and add complexity. In the mouth this is somewhat small scaled but with great focus in a smooth, medium full bodies style with supple wild cherry fruit and light spice tones on the mid-palate that yield to notes of citron and strawberry on the finish. A very fine bottle at maturity with a balanced yet fleshy feel 91pts

1996 Burlotto Barolo Neirane
The bright aromatic of this wine are full of heather, licorice, smoke, olive brine and menthol notes but the fruit is still a bit reticent. In the mouth one finds superbly fine-grained tannins that are powerful but balanced by notes of white clay, leather and incipient dark raspberry fruits. This offers beautiful precision but remains a bit tight and coy on the palate. I like where this is going though and the aromatics hint that we are almost there.. 92pts

1996 Burlotto Barolo Cannubi

Simply wonderful aromatics that ranged from lilacs, to seared cherry, hot rocks, to roses, orange peel, earth and spice all around a core of sweet red fruit. In the mouth there is superb balance with succulent mineral notes and clear, if fairly rich and quite tannic, faceted fruit. The fruit grows in the glass revealing exceptional intensity and purity with significant upside potential. 93pts

1995 Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero
Intense notes of incense and candlewax immediately emerge from the glass joined by dark, smoky, slightly jammy fruits with complicating notes of fish sauce, underbrush, tapenade, thyme and olive oil. In the mouth he tannins are delicate and light if abundant giving the wine a velvety texture. The rosehip and wild cherry fruit is framed by vitamin like mineral notes and a wonderful inner mouth perfume of roses and tapenade. Still youthful this is emerging from its shell and has a very promising future. 93pts.

Below are notes on wines I tasted with winemaker Fabio Alessandria  this past May. Many are just now arriving in the marketplace.

2008 Burlotto Pelaverga

Aromatics are intense and deep with penetrating, minerally focus that carries over to the palate. Cranberry fruit on the palate is paired with the intense minerality giving this a downright steely quality but it does lack some of the intensity of the 2007. 86pts

2007 Burlotto Barbera d’Alba

Huge, soaring aromatics are captured here with note of cold earth, pollen, wild animale notes and slightly spicy notes of black-fruited hard candy. In the mouth this is perfectly proportioned with deep, lively fruit a hint of round tannin and snappy acids. The finish is dominated by the acids but with excellent length and reverb. Super Barbera. 90pts

2007 Burlotto Freisa
Lightly smoky on the nose with an exotic boysenberry coulis note that is countered by dark aromatic spice roots and a hint of leafy geranium. The mouthfeel is both transparent and mouthcoating with a hint of bitterness on the mid-palate. The tannins are pretty big but ripe enough that they already begin to melt away on the finish, which is tarry and spiced with floral tones that compliment the dark plummy red fruits. This is better on the nose at this point. 86pts

2007 Burlotto Nebbiolo
Fresh and herbal on the nose with a sandy underlay and suggestions of briary wood and wildflowers adding detail. Huge acidity in the mouth is followed by a wave of fruit and perfectly ripe tannins. The midpalate is laced with minerality that adds cut and definition to the wild cherry and watermelon fruit that gains some pomegranate depth on the back end. This finishes strongly with excellent length and an almost salty, mineral finale. 90pts

2005 Burlotto Barolo Aclivi

Balsamic on the nose with complex aromas of church candle, bay leaf, chalk and wild berry fruits. Nervous with fine-grained tannins in the mouth that frame slightly spice sweet red fruit notes. The feel is wonderfully fresh in the mouth and strikingly transparent though one could wish for a bit more richness to the fruit.  89pts

2005 Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero
Leathery and slightly bretty on the nose with a deep gamy element that contrasts against the sweet dark fruits of the nose Notes of olive brine, mortadella and carnations emerge from the glass with air. Soft and suave in the mouth with a rich core of spiced fruit supported by great acids that keep this taut and tense. Great camphor tinged cherry fruit in the mouth conceals a bed of ripe tannins. A very well balanced 2005. 93pts

2005 Burlotto Barolo Cannubi
Deep and dark on the nose with fruit, heather, dried grass and hints of grilled meats, cinnamon and green anise seed adding great detail. In the mouth this is very classic Barolo with clear acids and assertive if polished tannins supporting the slightly leathery, bright amarena cherry tinged fruit. Fine balance and great length but this is really a bit tight at this point 91pts

2006 Burlotto Barolo Aclivi

A lovely nose of floral tones with savory hints of oregano, olive oil and sundried tomato. In the mouth his is sapid and round with soft tannins and sweet fruit on the palate with hints of fresh green herbs adding detail. The wine is still very tight but well balanced with strawberry fruits and fine, well proportioned structure.  88-90pts

2006 Burlotto Barolo Cannubi
Wonderfully aromatic already with precise raspberry fruit framed by hints of campfire, saffron, baked clay and a slight underbrush tone. In the mouth thios is crystal clear with a lean yet very precise feel to the candied red raspberry flavors. The structure is very finely balanced and the tannins are perfectly ripe leading to a fine, long taut finish. An excellent wine in the making 91-94pts.

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