2022 Olek Bondonio, Langhe Rosso DOC “Giulietta” Piemonte, Italy.
One of my favorite Barbaresco makers, Olek Bondonio, a cult like figure here, has become one of the most sought after winemakers with Barbaresco and Nebbiolo enthusiasts and it is incredibly hard to get them, though some of his alternative wines are a little more easy to find, like this exceptionally rare and pale red Giulietta Langhe Rosso, made from the Pelaverga grape. This light colored wine, reminds me of Poulsard and or Trousseau, from the Jura, with strawberry and tart herbal flavors leading the way on the crisp, mineral laced, lighter palate, along with anise, truffle and orange peel notes. Bondonio’s estate, La Berchialla is located near to the Tre Stelle frazione of Barbaresco, and is planted to Nebbiolo, of course, along with small parcels of Grignolino, Pelaverga, as seen here, Dolcetto, and Barbera, which is another of Bondonio’s wines I highly recommend. The signature wine here is the Olek Bondonio La Berchialla Roncagliette Cru, Barbaresco DOCG, a wine a mystical allure and sensuality, no Nebbiolo fan should ever pass up a chance to experience it, trust me, especially in a good vintage! While not so grand as that, this bright, earthy and savory lighter framed Pelaverga is a quaffable treat that goes best with food and enjoys a slight chill, it’s a no pretense kind of wine, but certainly unique. Most of the grapes come from Bondonio’s plots in the Roncagliette vineyard in Barbaresco with a southern exposure and classic hard clay and limestone soils, making for a pedigreed terroir, for such a lesser known grape!
Pelaverga is a native grape to Piemonte, where it is found in the Verduno DOC mainly, and is super rare anywhere else, I have only had it a dozen times in 20 years and only of a handful of producers actually make solo varietals wines from it. A bit of research has found that it was most commonly used as a light semi fizzy red wine or as a table grape, but Castello di Verduno and G..B. Burlotto’s Verduno Pelaverga(s) started turning heads in the last decade or so, leading the grape to be planted outside of Verduno, as seen here. Interesting, writer Ian D’Agata, well regarded wine critic, notes that Pelaverga has two distinct clones, he goes as far as saying “Pelaverga” doesn’t exist: it is neither a grape nor a wine, and that you need to be more clear that there are, in fact, two different Pelaverga grape varieties: the Pelaverga Grosso, which is not the favored clone or strain, and the Pelaverga Piccolo, that is, and originally at home in the Barolo commune of Verduno and is called Verduno Pelaverga, where the cuttings came from that Olek Bondonio has in Barbaresco, where it can’t be called Pelaverga, hence the Langhe Rosso DOC on the label. For his Giulietta, Bondonio does this wine with 100% de-stemmed berries, with fermentation done in a mix of stainless steel and concrete, which depends on ripeness and the vintage. After a a couple of weeks on skins, being careful not to try to extract too much tannin, the wine sees short élevage in very old neutral barrels and bottled with ultra low sulfur, as well as unfined and unfiltered. This freshly focused and spicy Pelaverga adds hints of florals, sour cherry and mint, it has a nice rustic charm that is compelling in its own way and made for a fine and thoughtful companion with my not so complicated pasta dish.
($45 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive