In all my years of travelling through Piedmont's Langhe wine country, I can't claim to have discovered anything new. Things move slowly here and most of the stones have been looked under, not leaving much for an explorer. The same handful of winemakers have dominated the short list for decades now and by handful I mean single digits. Sure, a much larger handful of modernists grabbed the attention of a certain wine critic in the mid 90's or thereabouts but that's hardly worth mentioning in the context of true greatness. I met Olek Bondonio through a friend a few years back and it didn't take long to realize that he was doing something different. Or not different. What he was doing was taking a leap in the other direction, back towards tradition and making great Barbaresco from a magic piece of land. Really one of the most highly prized sites in the entire zone. What he wasn't doing was trying to make a wine a critic might swoon over meaning a boring, fruit forward, easy drinking nebbiolo with no future. That would truly be a shame since you can make a wine like that anywhere, but great nebbiolo can only be found here in this one tiny little place on earth.
On to the wine. Barbaresco from the town of Barbaresco, as opposed to Neive or Treiso, is the wine I think of when we compare Barbaresco to Barolo; it's more feminine for sure, slightly less tannic and generally a little friendlier. This is all true of Olek's wine but there's something else here. Lovely notes of violet, rose petals and crushed berries and spice. Plushly textured but plenty of underlying structure and impressive length. Maybe it's the fact that he's farming organically and taking a minimalist approach in the cellar - both rarities in the Langhe or anywhere in Piedmont for that matter - but the results are undeniable.