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Claudio Fenocchio took over from his father Giacomo in 1989 – probably the moment of greatest pressure to follow the ‘modern’ winemaking path of short fermentations and aging in new barriques. In fact, it’s difficult now to understand how much pressure was exerted – from peers and neighbors, old and young, from the press, importers, customers, and that mysterious thing called “the market”. It took a strong will to resist, and a strong devotion to tradition. Lucky for us that Claudio stuck with the best of tradition – organic farming, long fermentations, and aging in large Slavonian oak casks. Easy for us too, since we get to drink his wines. Here’s a rare group of Fenocchio bottles spanning the generations, and ending with the beautiful 2016s. Jamie Wolff
Fenocchio’s house has a spectacular view of the north end of Bussia and beyond, and he can point out a few different parcels of his Bussia vines from the terrace. My first sensation with the 2016 was to be transported to the vineyard on a warm day – the wine really speaks of the place, the earth. It’s intensely aromatic, showing both dark cherry fruit and savory aspects – herbs, straw, clay and chalk. It’s quite full bodied and deep, supported by very ripe tannins, a muscular, brooding wine with much more to reveal, but very fine. It’s nowhere ready to drink – I’m going to buy a few and put them in a corner of the cellar. Jamie Wolff
Castellero runs over the crest of a hill to share a border with Bussia, but it’s mostly on the west side of the hill, facing Cannubi. The point is that while Fenocchio’s vines in Bussia and Castellero are close together, the wines are very different; the vineyards are vinified identically, so it’s a dramatic lesson in terroir. The 2016 Castellero shows bright fruit, spices, blood orange, with very fine tannin – it’s fresh and very elegant – a very (trigger warning) feminine wine to Bussia’s dark and muscular – a great wine. Jamie Wolff
My friend Gregory Dal Piaz calls Villero “training-wheels wine”, because if you’re new to Barolo it’s an easy wine to like - so it figures that I’d really like Villero. There are great Villeros from Brovia, Cascina Fontana, G. Mascarello, Fenocchio, Oddero (and in the old days the excellent Barolo Enrico VI from Cordero di Montezemolo) – and in fact I think what they all have in common is a certain openness, balance, and yes – accessibility and charm that make them easy to like. I haven’t tasted Fenocchio’s 2016 but based on past years I have found it easy to like. Jamie Wolff
Fenocchio has vines in Cannubi Boschis (near Francesco Rinaldi’s, and Sandrone’s vines). In the past this has been – as you might expect from Cannubi – a very fine, elegant, and subtle wine. Based on his other wines of the vintage, Fenocchio's 2016 should be very special. Jamie Wolff