Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 34

from assorted vineyard sites and often from different
communes. These wines might have combined, for
instance, the perfumed fruit of La Morra with the tannic
power common to Serralunga d'Alba and finesse from
Castiglione Falletto. The comune category presents
an opportunity for producers to make wines that are
representative of their entire home town, in a sense. It's
a concept that has existed for hundreds of years, far predating the founding of the modern Italian state in 1861,
and it holds special significance for Italians. Pietro Ratti,
whose father Renato was an early cartographer of Barolo's
important sites, describes this as a "senso di appartanenza,
a sense of belonging to a place or a community. It is an
essential part of our history as Italians, and it is beautiful
to see the differences among communes in the wines."
Only a handful of Barolo del Comune wines existed
when the MGAs were first approved, and according to
the Barolo and Barbaresco Consorzio, that number slowly
increased to 23 by 2014. Today, there are at least 70 Barolo
del Comune labels, with more slated for release next year.
A number of other producers have said they are thinking
of bottling a comune wine in the near future. For an area
as traditional as Piedmont, this is fast-paced change.

FOCUS IN SERRALUNGA
Nearly half of the Barolo del Comune labels on the market
now are from Serralunga d'Alba and, in fact, Serralunga's
growers were early proponents of Barolo comune wines.
Giovanni Minetti, the consorzio president who helped
launch the MGA project, was also the general manager
at Fontanafredda for 17 years. Minetti and others point
out that Serralunga's history is somewhat different from
other villages. Serralunga fruit was always considered
the backbone of a blended Barolo, and its grapes were in
high demand. "When all Barolo was blended," Minetti
says, "every serious producer wanted to buy grapes from
Serralunga, and so, until about twenty years ago, there
were very few producers [making wine] in Serralunga,
because everyone else was selling their grapes."
Roberto Bruno, now the commercial director for
Fontanafredda, has worked at this historic Serralunga
estate since 1991. He notes that in the early 1990s, much
of the Barolo wine market was focused on the commune
of La Morra, where the Barolo Boys (producers like Elio
Altare and Roberto Voerzio) were breaking traditions
by reducing maceration times and aging in French oak
barriques to give rounder, more approachable Barolos.
"Wines from Serralunga were considered austere and
not enjoyable," Bruno recalls. "We thought Serralunga
was underestimated and had great potential, so we
decided to express this through a single-village Barolo.
At this time there were no MGAs, so we called it
Barolo di Serralunga d'Alba." Fontanafredda released
the inaugural 1988 vintage of this wine in 1992.
Davide Rosso, winemaker at his family's Giovanni
Rosso winery, recalls Fontanafredda's dynamic
young winemaker, Livio Testa, encouraging other
Serralunga producers to follow their example. Rosso
was one of the first to respond, producing his first
Barolo di Serralunga from the 1996 vintage. Since
2010, both have changed their labels to Barolo del
34

WINE & SPIRITS

DECEMBER 2020

THE HISTORIC
FONTANAFREDDA
WINERY SITS AT THE
NORTHERN TIP OF
THE COMUNE DI
SERRALUNGA D'ALBA

Comune di Serralunga d'Alba.
Those early Comune di Serralunga wines set the stage
when the Consorzio was considering the new MGA
regulations. Minetti notes that the Barbaresco MGA
system, released three years before Barolo's, did not
include any provision for comune wines as Barbaresco
had no such tradition. In Barolo, on the other hand, the
comune tradition had existed at least since 1988. In fact,
Minetti points out that before the MGA mapping project
started, Barolo's 11 communes were the only areas with
officially delimited borders, so they were really the first
areas that could be defined as MGAs.
Serralunga has become such a strong brand that
some producers have decided to label wines as Barolo
del Comune di Serralunga d'Alba when they could use
a single MGA name instead. Davide Rosso (owner of
Giovanni Rosso) is also the winemaker for the new Luigi
Vico project in Serralunga. One of their wines comes
exclusively from a half-acre plot of vines in Serralunga's
Meriame MGA, yet they chose to release it as a Barolo
del Comune di Serralunga d'Alba. "It is easier, in terms
of the market, to have a Barolo Serralunga," Rosso says.
Other wineries have decided to invest in vineyards
to take advantage of the Serralunga name. The Krause
family (owners of Vietti since 2016) purchased the Roerobased Enrico Serafino winery in 2015; around the same
time, they acquired 4.9 acres of vineyard in the Carpena
and Meriame MGAs, both on Serralunga's western
slopes, and released their first Barolo del Comune di
Serralunga d'Alba from the 2015 vintage. According
to Nico Conta, president and vinegrower at Serafino,
"Barolo is the dream of any Piemonte winemaker, and
Serralunga is the dream of the dreamers." He points to
Serralunga's soils, which are predominantly the older
Helvetian (also called Serravallian) soils, which tend to
impart more power and longevity to the wines. "This
is why we are focused on this comune wine," he says.



Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - December 2020

Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 1
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 2
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 4
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 5
Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 6
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Wine & Spirits - December 2020 - 8
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