A Barolo Discovery - Enzo Brezza

10/30/2007 -

It finally feels like Fall in New York – hurrah! A chill in the air and our thoughts turn back to fine red wine in earnest. Luckily our friend and esteemed colleague David Weitzenhoffer, expert Sommelier (ex Felidia) and die-hard Piedmont aficionado (keep an eye out for his upcoming book on Barolo, which should be a much-welcome addition to a subject that is sorely neglected in English) has turned his attention to importing a few fine wines. We’ve been very happy selling David’s Friuli Pinot Grigio and Schiopettino from Duline; now we have the pleasure of discovering the Barolos of Giovanni Brezza.

Brezza is an old name in Piedmont but we’ve never seen any older vintages; Wasserman (“the Noble Red Wines of Italy” – still the best English-language book on Italian wine, but last published in 1990) has a few notes on Brezza that range from poor to very good (the best notes being for the ‘89s and ‘90s). What’s clear is that the current direction at Brezza is for traditional – and clean – wine making: fermentations are of medium-long term - about 20 days in 2001. Aging is in botte (giant wood casks, many of considerable age – as opposed to small barrels, or barriques). Enzo Brezza, now in charge of the winery, is the godson of Bartolo Mascarello, and the family association has clearly rubbed-off in terms of the focus, depth, and purity of the wines.

It’s interesting that where Wasserman writes positively about Brezza, our tasting notes overlap to some degree:

Berry aromas – raspberry and strawberry, plus darker plumy fruit, plus stone, some tar and earth; hint of liqueur-like concentration and sweetness (this is actually a very attractive quality!); great richness and concentration; suitably intense tannin; well-balanced. The wines will age for a long time, but the 2001s are delicious – and approachable – now.


There are two vineyards on offer: Cannubi, which is historically considered one of the finest vineyards in Barolo (and which is perhaps the most famous Barolo vineyard for Americans due to the Parker-generated fame of the Cannubi’s from Sandrone and Scavino), and Sarmassa, which, while not as well known as Cannubi has always been held to be of top quality. Like Cannubi, Sarmassa faces south/south-east, has similar elevation and soils, and produces perfumed wines with real finesse. In the case of the Brezza wines, the Sarmassa shows more structure and body.

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