Ettore Germano Langhe Balau Rosso 2003
A tall medieval tower dominates the village of Serralunga, on the south-east edge of the Barolo appellation, giving fair warning of the character of the wines grown there: structured, substantial, uncompromising. Sergio Germano, whose winery is a few minutes walk north of Serralunga, completed six years of study at the School of Enology in Alba, then made wine for a few years at Fontanafredda, one of the larger wineries in the area, before returning to the family estate in 1993. The winery is still named after Ettore, Sergio’s father, who grew grapes, made a little wine for private customers, and was known throughout the area for his skill in grafting vines.
In a traditional appellation like Barolo, a modern winemaker needs to have the scientific understanding of winemaking, while still respecting the traditions. Sergio Germano is just such a winemaker, and his Serralunga Barolos will never be creamy, international-style wines. Great wine is always made in the vineyard, and Sergio does much of the fieldwork himself, with the help of his wife Elena and a small crew. Some of the wines are 100% traditional, made with long macerations and big barrels, and some are made with medium-sized barrels or barriques, but they all express the best of these local grape varieties. Sergio has vineyards in two quite different areas, which allows him to make an unusual range of wine types; in addition to the classic regional wines like Barolo, Dolcetto and Barbera he also makes one of Italy’s best Rieslings, and some excellent sparkling wines.
Attracting the most glory, prestige and fame to the Piedmont region, Nebbiolo in all of its expressions—Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Ghemme and Gattinara—creates a complex wine, truly unique for its delicate qualities combined with strength and a great potential to improve over time.
But Nebbiolo isn’t all there is to red wine from Piedmont! Barbera is the most planted variety and historically most popular as a dependable, food-friendly, everyday wine.
Beyond these two, a surprising number of red varieties call Piedmont their home. Worth a try include Dolcetto for its bold concentration and aromas of spice cake. Other grapes to investigate include Freisa, Croatina, Brachetto, Grignolino and Pelaverga.