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Until the late 1860s, almost all of the land that we now call Barolo was in the hands of the Falletti family. In 1870, a Rinaldi and a Barale purchased some of the Falletti estate; in 1900 a Barale married a Rinaldi, and the families formed a company to sell their wine. This venture didn’t last too long, but Francesco Rinaldi retained the joint label, and used it at least occasionally; the Barale family has a bottle of 1954 Barolo with the same “brand” in their cellar.
You would need a big family tree to show the many family ties between today’s Barolo producers (complicated by the fact that not everyone with the same family name is related – I know of at least 3 Mascarellos who are not related). Aside from being cousins, Barale and Rinaldi(s) have been making, and still make, great wine – hence today’s mash-up. Barale is much less well-known, which doesn’t make sense to me as we’ve had stellar experiences with the old wines. I think it’s primarily because they haven’t worked with an established US importer, so the wines haven’t been much reviewed, and thus have mostly escaped the attention their quality merits. We want to share them with you, so you're invited to dinner on September 10th - details below. Jamie Wolff
Castellero is located in the village of Barolo, between the more famous vineyards of Bussia and Cannubi. This steep slope is composed of well-draining calcareous marl which are perfectly suited to Nebbiolo. This site is planted to the historic Michet, Rosè and Lampia clones of Nebbiolo, and propagated by massale selection. The Castellero is deeper and shows more concentration than the normale bottling, with notes of cherry, red forest fruit, dried spices, herbs, floral notes of rose and violet, sweet spice, and undergrowth. Pair with roasted red meat or game, or cellar for a few decades. Oskar Kostecki
The Barale Barolo is a blend of fruit from 3 vineyards (all in the town of Barolo): Castellero, Monrobiolo di Bussia, and Preda. The 2015 has good depth and extract, but it seems completely effortless in it’s elegance – this is wine that feels like it just exists – it hasn’t been forced in any aspect. In April it was aromatically seductive, with lovely orange peel and eucalyptus, silky tannin, and a long, expansive finish. Jamie Wolff
This beautiful Barbaresco comes from 40 to 50 year old vines planted in Serraboella, the most elevated point on the highest hill of Neive, with quite extreme diurnal shifts in temperature leading to an elegant and lifted style of Nebbiolo. The nose opens with notes of soft spice, sandalwood, dried roses, violets, and macerated cherry. The palate is rich, yet taut, showing beautiful flavors of dried cherry, forest fruit, dried orange peel, more spice and sandalwood. The tannins are present but well integrated, and this wine has acidity for days. What struck me the most upon tasting at the cantina was the intensity of flavor and complexity that builds to a beautiful crescendo and an incredibly long finish. Drinking well now with a long decant, this will only improve in your cellar. A fantastic value. Oskar Kostecki
2014 was a challenging vintage in the Langhe, with hailstorms, rain and a relatively cool summer leading to uneven ripening and variable quality. Fortunately for us, the high standards that we are used to from our friends are Barale didn't drop, and while the 2014 Barolos aren't as concentrated or deep as the 2013s or 2010s, they offer a lot of pleasure to those inclined to drink their nebbiolo younger. The normale bottling comes from the vineyards of Castellero, Preda, and Monrobiolo, and shows classic notes of dried cherry, dried rose, earth, and warm spice, lifted by good acidity. A great option while you wait for other Barolo in your cellar to mature. Oskar Kostecki
This bottle is drinking so well right now. If you can spare the money, please do your self a favor and grab one while you can. Poised on the brink of maturity, the wine offers savory, tertiary aromas of earth, roasting meat, and mushroom along with delicate, mouth-filling dried cherry flavors. Really, this is the kind of beautiful, masterfully wrought wine that defies description and lingers in one's memory for years. Make sure to give the wine ample time to decant; it will take several hours of air for it to show all it has to offer. -msb
Tasted 4-5 times in the last year, this is still young, but beginning to show some lovely old-wine truffley/forest notes, along with more delicate rose and strawberry aromas. There's plenty of material balancing ripe tannin, and a long long finish. I love this wine, and I think it's a steal for this level of quality. JW