A pre-pandemic visit to Guido Porro’s cellar in Serralunga d’Alba confirmed my speculation that this humble, reserved vignaiolo has taken the small family farm and turned it into one of the great traditionalist estates of Barolo. Not much has changed here since Guido, the fourth generation of Porros to make wine in Serralunga, took over from his father in 1996. The wisdom passed down from his ancestors guides his approach to viticulture, and he still ages his Baroli extensively in huge old Slavonian oak casks. The only real changes of late have been the acquisition of a prime slice of Serralunga’s most legendary cru, Vigna Rionda, the decision to revert to the estate’s magnificent historic label design, and the increasing presence in the cellar of Guido’s passionate twenty-year-old son, Fabio. Given their excellent vineyard holdings and steady adherence to classical vinification methods, it is safe to say the Porros and their wines will be around for a long time to satisfy our thirst for Piedmont’s fabled Nebbiolos. The majority of Guido’s production comes from the Lazzarito cru, a steep slope that abuts the Porro cantina at its highest point. The Lazzairasco is a mouth-filling, authoritative Barolo with trademark Serralunga tannins and extensive cellaring potential, particularly in 2016—a perfect vintage. If you are unfamiliar with Guido Porro and his world-class Baroli, this is an ideal bottle with which to become acquainted.
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 twelve 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.
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
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