Bottle Highlight: Francesco Clerico 2015 Barbera

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When we first met, Francesco Clerico was well into his seventies, and while very spry, he preferred to drive his tractor the 3-4 minutes it took to get to his vines in Colonello di Bussia. Passengers stood on a little flatbed trailer with minimal provision for holding on. It was bumpy. I fell off once.

In Colonello di Bussia, looking west                                                                                                                    

 

I love the story that Francesco told about how, in early summer 1989, he came home to help his father in the vines (he was, at that time, a policeman in Torino. A great many people of his generation were obliged to go to Torino or Milano to find work; the market for Barolo was just beginning to develop into the success it is today). They stopped working to have a morning snack (a “merenda”), and Francesco dropped a piece of cheese on the ground by the vines. “I went to pick it up to eat, and I thought, damn! I can’t eat that now – we had just put down herbicide. And then I realized that if I couldn’t eat a piece of food just because it had fallen on the ground – on my family’s land - that we must be doing it all wrong, using poisons on our land. Somehow it gave us the perspective we’d been lacking and from that moment on we haven’t used any products in the vines except for copper and sulfur.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Francesco died just before the pandemic hit. It's going to be strange to go back to Barolo without him there. He was a sweet guy who seemed gruff, but he was warm and exuberantly hospitable. He loved his life in Bussia - he told us that being in the vines was what made him happiest. He made very good true old-school Barolo, and to my taste his Barbera was also a great wine. We fell big-time for his Barbera 2015 - we bought a lot of it, and we're getting near the last of our stock. It's drinking better than ever, and it makes a fine toast to our friend.

Clerico, Francesco 2015 Barbera d'Alba

All of Francesco Clerico’s wines (Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo) could be used in a class as textbook examples of traditional Langhe wine. Clerico’s certified-organic vines are in Bussia di Monforte (mostly in the Colonello sub-zone of Bussia Soprana, and also in Bussia Mondoca - rendered as the old-style Mont d'Oca on the Barbera label), an easy walk from his cantina in Borgata Bussia Soprana - like the wines, a hamlet that feels as though time has passed by.  2015 was a good year for Barbera in general; Clerico’s is cool, deep, and lifted, with lovely balance between bright plummy fruit and earthy, savory and forest-y notes. (April 2018)

A couple of years later, and I would add that while the 2015 Barbera retains good freshness, it's gained some gravitas and complexity. We've had a couple of bottles this winter that have been great with a variety of food. You could put some away, but it's delicious and drinking beautifully now. Jamie Wolff

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur