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Fratelli Brovia Barolo 2006
This wine is suitable for tasty and elaborate meat dishes and for dry mature cheeses.
Grandfather Giacinto was a wise man and chose some of the best sites in the region for his vineyards. Brovia owns land in the best "cru" of Piedmont such as Rocche, Villero and Garblét Sue. These different vineyard plots represent a range of soil types, from heavier clay to direr limestone. The Brovias are extremely conscientious winegrowers and the accumulated experience of generations means that they know the characteristics of each of their vineyards, if not of each of the individual vines, and the wines that come from them. Nevertheless, they perform soil analyses every two years to ensure that the elements are in equilibrium for the vines to produce high quality grapes. Pruning is done with care and clusters are thinned again in the summer. Harvest is done entirely by hand and usually begins in late September with the Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera, the Nebbiolo ripens later, near mid October.
Giancinto Brovia vinifies his wines in the classic style. Grapes are lightly crushed before going into the fermentation tanks. Fermentation generally lasts between 15 and 20 days at a temperature near 28 degrees Celsius for the Barolo, somewhat less for the other reds. the Barolo are aged for two years in "botti" made of Slavonian and French oak. The Dolcetto, Barbarseco and Barbera are aged mainly in stainless steel tanks, with a portion going into French oak barrels for 9 - 10 months. the Roero Arneis is vinified and aged in stainless steel. Brovia bottles his wines without filtration.
The center of the production of the world’s most exclusive and age-worthy red wines made from Nebbiolo, the Barolo region includes five core townships: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and the Barolo village itself, as well as a few outlying villages. The landscape of Barolo, characterized by prominent and castle-topped hilltops, is one full of history and romance of the Nebbiolo grape. Its wines, with the signature “tar and roses” aromas, have a deceptively light garnet color but full presence on the palate and plenty of tannins and acidity. In a well-made Barolo, one can expect to find complexity and good evolution with notes of, for example, strawberry, cherry, plum, leather, truffle, anise, fresh and dried herbs, tobacco and violets.
There are two predominant soil types here, which distinguish Barolo from the lesser surrounding areas. Compact and fertile Tortonian sandy marls define the vineyards farthest west and at higher elevations. Typically the Barolo wines coming from this side, from La Morra and Barolo, can be approachable relatively early on in their evolution and represent the “feminine” side of Barolo, often closer in style to Barbaresco with elegant perfume and fresh fruit.
On the eastern side of the region, Helvetian soils of compressed sandstone and chalks are less fertile, producing wines with intense body, power and structured tannins. This more “masculine” style comes from Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. The township of Castiglione Falletto covers a spine with both soils types.
The best Barolo wines need 10-15 years before they are ready to drink, and can further age for several decades.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piemontese villages of Barolo and Barbaresco. This finicky grape and needs a very particular soil type and climate in order to thrive. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Tiny amounts are produced in Washington, Virginia, Mexico and Australia.
In the Glass
Nebbiolo at its best is an elegant variety with velveteen tannins, mouthwatering acidity and a captivating perfume. Common characteristcs of a well-made Nebbiolo can include roses, violets, licorice, sandalwood, spicebox, smoke, potpourri, black plum, red cherry and orange peel. Light brick in color, Nebbiolo is a more powerful wine than one might expect, and its firm tannins typically need time to mellow.
Nebbiolo’s love affair with food starts in Piedmont, which is home to the Slow Food movement and some of Italy’s best cuisine. The region is famous for its white truffles, wild boar ragu and tajarin pasta, all perfect companions to Nebbiolo.
If you can’t afford to drink Barolo and Barbaresco every night, try the more wallet-friendly, earlier-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba. Also search out the fine offerings of the nearby Roero region. North of the Langhe and Roero, find earthy and rustic versions of the variety (known here as “Spanna”) in Ghemme and Gattinara.