Sometimes it happens when we least expect it – we come across something that stands apart, it rockets up from a set of expectations, and it enters your inner circle along with all your other prized memories, possessions, experience, etc. That’s precisely what happened one day when I happened to stop by the Cantina Communale dei Produttori di Castiglione Falletto, a place I’ve been a dozen times or more. It’s a wine shop (i.e. enoteca), but like a lot of things in Barolo zone, it’s a little hidden, and a lot special.
The tasting room/enoteca is kind of hidden in the under-belly of a medieval castle. But if you’re determined, you will find it. That said, it’s well worth the effort, as it’s a comfortable place to learn about the wines of this commune, taste them side-by-side and purchase a bottle(s) or case(s) at the best price you’ll find.
That particular day I happened to be showing some visitors from the USA around the Barolo zone, and, as I always do with folks really interested to learn more about the area and its wines, I brought them to the (rated #1, Trip Advisor) Cantina Communale di Castiglione Falletto.
Most of the fine folks working there know me by now, they know I’ve been in the trade for many years, and they know my passion for the wines of Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, and Italia in general; they always offer to pour tastes of whatever might be open, usually it’s at least a dozen bottles. Most times I decline their offer, as I’ve usually already had the wines either at the producer’s cellar or at a trade show, or I might even already own it which means I’m already familiar. One time it was different, it was my first ah-ha moment with a wine from Monchiero Fratelli; the moment still resonates today.
17 May, 2016: 2009 Fratelli Monchiero Barolo Rocche di Castiglione “Wow, here’s a wine that really stands out. Tasted as part of a 15-wine lineup in Castiglione Falletto, this was the only one I asked to taste a second time – about five minutes before I was set to leave, I again asked to taste it, this wine being that kind of wine, the kind that really tugs at the soul. An excellent, traditional expression of site and variety, this is medium>full-bodied, with perfect lift and graceful delineation. Med>Long finish, very sapid, above-average structure – more so considering the challenging vintage. Someone really nailed the pick date here, really fresh; just lovely. 14,5% abv. (fully resolved)” highly recommended
Which brings me to the heart of this blog post and wine review, the 2013 Fratelli Monchiero Langhe Nebbiolo, a wine that is exactly as it should be; a wine I had just the other day.
You may be asking, “What does that mean, as it should be? The answer to that question, for me, is that it’s a wine that exemplifies its place, variety and vintage in a way that’s ideal, that’s correct. Sometimes I like to call these types of wines/experiences a “textbook example”. Put another way, if I was teaching a class of sommeliers how a young Langhe Nebbiolo should present itself, I’d include this wine as an example of everything done right – balanced, fresh, and correct, i.e. nothing obscuring the true nature of the variety and vintage (e.g. excess time on wood, late pick dates, over-cropping, etc).
24 February, 2017: 2013 Fratelli Monchiero Langhe Nebbiolo “Terrific example of a young Langhe Nebbiolo. Med>Dark garnet core, clear and bright. The nose opens slowly, but ultimately reveals waves of beautiful, bright Nebbiolo perfume, filled with freshly cut flowers, soil, mineral and red fruit notes. The body is classic: medium-bodied, very fine tannins that finely balance firm and sweet, fresh acids, medium+ finish. It was by the second glass, that I called my local and got a case – it’s that good, for my palate, anyway. That said, the tannins might be too drying for some right now, so another year or two of cellaring will only help; aeration, too, will help. I think it’s in a perfect place right now, but should easily cellar thru 2023, too. Absolutely demands food, not a wine to be considered on its own. 13,5% abv.” recommended
It was just my first taste of the second glass, about mid-way through dinner, when I grabbed my phone, went online and bought a case; it’s that good. This is a fantastic wine that’s also a very affordable wine (my case price was under $17/bottle). This is not a wine for those used to/prefer ripe blueberries, chocolate, low acids and no/low tannins.
I will be visiting the winery this spring, and will have a very detailed report available soon after.
(header photo: rain clouds begin to cover the Langhe valley)