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I confess: what follows is an article that we published in 2015. I can’t deny being a lazy so-and-so, but there’s too much good info there to try to reinvent this particular wheel. What I can add by way of an update is that we’ve received many glowing reports about great bottles of Franco-Fiorina from serious Nebbiolo devotees. The 1964, tasted last fall, was (again) outstanding. As with all old Barolo and Barbaresco, the prices have increased since 2015, but not precipitously, and the wines remain reasonably priced for their excellent quality.
We can’t offer much sound information about Fiorina without blatantly plagiarizing Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines; as usual it’s hard to find anything else published. But on Franco Zilliani’s fascinating site www.Vinoalvino.org, there’s a very informative short interview with Armando Cordero, for years the winemaker at Fiorina, and, as Zilliani says “one of the memories of the Langha, and a great deal more than just a winemaker”. Zilliani was inspired by tasting the 1982, served blind; he was knocked-out by the wine. Cordero told him: “As long as I worked at Fiorina, all of the Barolo was a blend of Nebbiolo from Serralunga: Baudana, from Vigna Riunda [sic], this being all Michet; from Castiglione Falletto, La Morra, and Monforte d’Alba. It was a blend of different villages following the lessons of my father, who until 1965 was the cellar master at Calissano. The wines were made by partially destemming and fermentation in cement. We used submerged-cap, with a pump-over in the evenings, but without any of today’s modern gadgets. The wine was then aged for 2 years in cement, and then, for about 2 years, in used but clean botte of Slavonian oak. The wine was then bottled without fining or filtration, and cellared on its side until it was sold. This is the story of a great Barolo! It’s a pity that even some traditionalists have forgotten this, but let’s not talk about that.”
A long thread of comments followed this interview, and after a while Armando Cordero added his own response, first thanking Zilliani for his article, and adding: “I’m taken back to the days when I was devoted to Franco Fiorina with all of my soul, passion, and life. Your magnificent words confirm what has always been my dream: to make a Barolo like those produced by our fathers, without technical acrobatics, with no artificial additives, using only concrete tanks and old botti, with which it’s possible to acheive wine of the highest quality. The long maceration with submerged cap has been much criticized by purists and foolishly abandoned by the great majority of producers who judge it ‘archaic’ and obsolete, but if it’s practiced with skill and passion it will produce a true Barolo that even after 30 or 40 years will give profound emotions and sensory experiences. Thank you, Franco [Zilliani] for confirming that Barolo, a wine of our fathers, is not, and has never been just a dream!”
Over the last 10 years we’ve tasted quite a few vintages; 1961, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1978, and 1979 all stand out in my memory as being outstanding classic Barolo (the Barbaresco is of comparable quality). Jamie Wolff