Olek Bondonio Pelaverga "Rosso Giulietta" 2017 w

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.

The first time I tasted a Pelaverga, some 20 years ago at a restaurant in the Langhe, it was brought out as a curiosity; a rare varietal, an heirloom really, associated with Verduno and the Saluzzo zone towards the foothills of the alps. It was described to me as a vine kept around only because of its history as a sacramental wine and thought to be planted to less than 25 hectares total. Who knows how much of that was good information but Pelaverga has been having a moment these last few years. There's even a DOC for Verduno Pelaverga now. Pale red with spicy cherry/strawberry aromatics, bright acid and fairly low tannins make this a great, food-friendly nebbiolo alternative. 

Type: Italy

Vendor: Eno Fine Wine


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