The Burlotto family has a long history of viticulture and winemaking in Piedmont that begins in the nineteenth century when Giovanni Battista Burlotto purchased vineyard property and the Castle at Verduno from the Royal House of Savoy. It was in this tiny village, the northernmost commune of Barolo, where he built a cellar, started a cattle farm and established a winemaking legacy that would eventually split off into three exceptional brands. Giovanni not only pioneered selling Barolo in bottle (as opposed to cask or demijohn), but he also elevated the status of Verduno to rival that of the more renowned communes of Serralunga and La Morra. After his passing, the property was handed down to his grandchildren as three separate parcels: the Castle, the GB Burlotto cellar and the farm and vineyard land (Cascina Massara). While his relatives went on to become renowned producers making wine under the ‘Castello di Verduno’ and ‘Azienda GB Burlotto’ labels, Andrea Burlotto inherited Cascina Massara, which he helped turn into the impressive brand that it is today. Although he started out selling off his grapes for many years, Andrea decided to build a cellar of his own in the 1960s which his son, Gian Carlo Burlotto, eventually inherited. Today, Gian Carlo crafts a variety of beautiful wines alongside his son, Gianluca, including Barolo, Nebbiolo for Nebbiolo Langhe, Barbera d’Alba, Pelaverga and Favorita. The estate spans 35 acres and contains holdings in two notable cru: Massara and Monvigliero. Like his great grandfather’s legendary Barolos, the wines of Cascina Massara benefit from the unique terroir in Verduno which is said to impart exotic perfumes and complex flavor profiles. Considering their family’s deep roots in Verduno and Piedmontese wine, it is no surprise that Gian Carlo and Gianluca are producing fantastic wines like this 2015 Barbera d’Alba which we were very excited to procure for the wine club!
This is not your simple, straightforward, ‘table wine’ Barbera. Rather, it is a serious wine with structure and intricacy and one of the best expressions of Barbera that we have come across in a very long while! Aromas of cassis liqueur, juicy black plum and maraschino cherry introduce a dense and full-flavored, medium-bodied palate with dusty yet firm tannins and a bracing acidity. Aged 6 months in oak casks, the wine offers more backbone than your typical Barbera, yet none of the layers of dark and spicy fruit are remotely stifled. Notes of red licorice and dried cherry appear on the mid-palate and carry through to the incredibly long finish which leaves you with more earthy flavors of shiitake mushroom and black tea. This wine has some heft to it and could definitely stand up to a hearty meal of braised short ribs, mushroom lasagna or a slow-cooked pork ragù.