A reasonably strong argument can be made for Barolo as the Burgundy of Italy. Not because Nebbiolo tastes like Pinot Noir (it doesn’t) but because of the vast range of terroirs in both Barolo and Burgundy, and Nebbiolo’s impressive ability—like Pinot Noir’s—to transmit the nuances of these varying soils and microclimates. In the eastern slice of Barolo known as Serralunga d’Alba (long greenhouse of Alba) lie the vineyards of Guido Porro.What you have here is top-notch raw material—Guido’s vines in the prized Lazzarito cru—combined with an expert, fourth-generation vigneron, whose humility has not translated into international fame, but whose talent and hard work result in beautiful, long-lived wines that stand among the best in the entire region. Barolo, particularly from Serralunga d’Alba, is known for its ageability, and Porro’s four bottlings are no different. The Vigna Lazzairasco, which comes from relatively low on the Lazzarito slope and receives ample direct sunshine, is a robust wine that will blossom over the next ten to fifteen years. Nevertheless, with a proper decanting, it is tantalizing now, too, especially for cold winter nights filled with roast meats and stews. Sip slowly as notes of cherries, roses, earth, and spices revolve in your glass, and rejoice that Guido’s prices are not what they would be if he made this in Burgundy—yet!
Reviews and notes on Guido Porro regularly refer to him as “under the radar”: his wines are worthy of a stellar reputation, but he is too easygoing and unassuming to worry about whether the wine-drinking public recognizes his name. Guido is the fourth generation at an estate that has always been passed from father to son, and although fifth-generation Fabio hasn’t reached middle school, he is already showing a keen curiosity in the family business. The Porros continue to work just as their predecessors did—the only major change over the last few decades has been the decision to bottle at the estate. Guido sticks to traditional methods in the vineyards and cellar, and he never gets in the way of the grapes’ natural expression.
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now nine Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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