The village of Serralunga d’Alba, in the heart of Piemonte’s Langhe hills, is renowned for its ripe, powerful, broadly structured wines from the Nebbiolo grape. When aged the required minimum of three years, including at least one and a half years in wood, such wines may be released as Barolo. However, many growers also choose to bottle a fresher, lighter, more approachable expression of the variety under the Langhe Nebbiolo denomination. These reds may be made from higher yielding vineyards and enjoy laxer aging requirements, with no stipulation for time in wood. Local producer Guido Porro crafts his Langhe Nebbiolo from young vines that could make Barolo, but he instead bottles it early to capture its youthful fruit and beautiful, lively perfume. A sort of “baby Barolo,” this red is bright and floral with plush tannins that offer immediate access. Try serving it alongside egg noodles with a slow-cooked ragù to experience it as you might in Serralunga. –Anthony Lynch
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.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch