Why haven’t more people heard of Guido Porro? I catch myself posing this question each time I exit Guido’s cellar in Serralunga d’Alba, the decadent, perfumed essence of his deep, saucy Barolos still coating my palate. A quiet, hard-working traditionalist who happens to own land in some of Serralunga’s best vineyards, Guido does not seek the spotlight, and as a result, his wines fly under the radar of all but the savviest connoisseurs of the Langhe’s noble reds. And yet, with each cork I pull, it is unquestionable that Guido’s reds express Piedmont in all its glory. By hand-crafting wines just like his father did—fermenting them naturally, aging them in Slavonian oak botti, and bottling unfiltered—he brilliantly captures that magical marriage of the Nebbiolo grape with these undulating calcareous hillsides, creating an irreplicable whirlwind of aromas and textures. Guido vinifies two Baroli from the Lazzarito cru, one of Serralunga’s top sites prized for its combination of perfect exposure and limestone-rich soils. Santa Caterina, slightly higher on the slope, is all about finesse: its trademarks are delicate floral aromatics, savory nuances, and elegant but grippy tannins promising a graceful evolution over time. Lazzairasco, on the other hand, lies slightly lower and sees more direct sunshine, yielding powerful wines marked by luscious ripe fruit, its ample mouthfeel balancing the contrasting elements of tar and glycerin. This high-octane Barolo can be held for many years. The two vintages featured here offer very different personalities. The 2013 is already heralded as one of the best in recent memory, on par with 2010 and 2008 for its precision, purity, and beautifully delineated aromas. Tightly structured and boasting the freshness of a cooler year, it promises superb cellaring potential. The 2012, on the other hand, gave mid-weight wines with forward fruit of utter deliciousness. Already alluring today, these wines will also stand the test of time. This splendid foursome represents a terrific introduction to Guido Porro for those unfamiliar with the name, and a chance for all to stock your cellar with some of the finest Nebbiolo around.
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.
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