Skip to content

James Low in Italy


Italy: land of fine wine, incredibly delicious food and intense beauty. These were my thoughts as we drove north out of Genoa, through Serralunga to the little town of Monforte d’Alba, in the heart of Barolo where the Nebbiolo grape rules. Our hotel on the first night is home to one of the oldest buildings in Monforte, where a very modern style of design meets 13th century brickwork. It is quite astounding. Attached to the hotel is one of the most interesting bars in the village, owned by Giulio. Here your every wine need is catered for, from smart vintage pink Bollinger to Cavalotto’s single vineyard Barolos.

That first evening we ate at the Osteria Veglio, looking over Revello’s ‘Conca vineyard’.

Conca Vineyard
Conca Vineyard

Monday morning and our first visit to Revello in La Morra. At 9.15 we entered a modern tasting room where a long row of his wines awaited us. We began with a brace of 2008’s, a fresh youthful, elegant Dolcetto and a meatier more powerful Barbera. This was shortly followed by his Langhe Nebbiolo 2007, a wine that exudes the finesse of a fine burgundy, an excellent wine. Then onto his full portfolio of 2006 Barolos. By the end of the tasting it was reaffirmed that 2006 is without question a really excellent vintage for this region. It is powerful and concentrated, yet incredibly elegant at the same time. They all deliver at their various price points, but the wine of the tasting had to be, for me, his Giachini: a pretty, finesse driven, concentrated fruit bomb. I almost drained my glass- not a good look at 9.30 am on a Monday morning. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world.

We then moved onto a vertical of the Conca vineyard- 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003.
2006 a great year, a year that will require time to come around and when they do you will be very happy with what you have bought. 2005’s do not have the power of the 2006’s or 2004’s and yet are very pretty, elegant and will be drinking sooner. The 2005 village Barolo is so good and drinking very well now.

Robin tasting at Revello
Robin tasting at Revello

As for 2004, it is common knowledge that in Italy, both in Piedmont and Tuscany the vintage is truly magnificent. I embraced his 2004 Conca, it has lots of power, is completely harmonious and very very delicious. However on the back of this tasting it was the 2006 that really sung to me.

10.30 am and we were motoring to meet with Giampaolo Pira (aka Andre Agassi). His vineyards are 15 mins east of La Morra, around the town of Serralunga. Here you encounter a more masculine style of wine due to the more prominent clay soils. Like Revello we began with a Dolcetto, a Barbera and a very fine Langhe Nebbiolo with a beautiful sweet core, a mini Barolo with layer upon layer of complexity. His 2006’s (village, Margheria, Marenca and Rionda) are all stunning. The village is a wine that everyone should buy as it offers such a high level of quality at an affordable price. The Marenca, more masculine, structured, again with a sweet core of vibrant fruit coursing through the wine, only 9-10,000 bottles are made of this wine. The Rionda is the most famous vineyard from this area. It was Giacosa in 1980 who made the Rionda vineyard as famous as it is today. It is amazing, so massive, a tour de force of winemaking and will need a lot of time.

Midday and we were at Cavalotto where we where shown round by Alfio Cavalotto. We were now poised for a full run through of one of the most traditional and most famous domaines in Barolo. The domaine is on the top of a ‘bricco’ (hill) and it was boiling hot! The winery is underneath the Bricco Boschis vineyard where the soils take on both sand and clay, so more Monforte and Serralunga. It is here where four types of clay and sand mix together to give the Bricco Boschis cuvee its extraordinary complexity.

View from Cavalotto
View from Cavalotto

We began by tasting the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Bricco Boschis. At this point you might think how does one taste 30 barolos in 2.5 hours and not have palate fatigue…Well I didn’t. There was no time for fatigue, just excitement at what lay ahead. 2004 BB is a great wine. If you haven’t it in your cellar you should have. 2005 BB is beautiful and elegant and can be approached now, 2006 is a massive barolo, for the purist and the traditionalist. It will need 8 years until you can pop.

His single vineyards, San Giuseppe and Vignolo are without question truly great vineyards, we tasted both his 2004’s, the SG is more elegant, layers of flavour, lots of time, delicious. The Vignolo has incredible harmony and is a huge wine. Only 6-7,000 bottles are made.

NOW LUNCH and it was much needed, a very simple lunch at Locanda de Centro in Castiglione Falletto, one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had, followed by a ‘Restretto’ a very very intense, refined espesso.

Next stop Barbaresco…..