I first met Marina Burlotto and her son, Fabio Alessandria, in the hall of the hotel we share at Verona each year during Vinitaly. If I remember right -- it has been many years -- Fabio and I had a discussion on the merits of very long maceration times for Barolo, of the sort that were once common but have now vanished almost completely, and suggested I stop by their stand in the Piemonte pavilion. I did, and was Impressed, and now Commendator Burlotto is usually my last stop at the end of Vinitaly, during which I taste the wines while they take the stand apart and prepare for the long drive home.
This time I was even later than usual, and Marina was happy to have me sitting there while Fabio and his Dad were ferrying stuff to the car, because there was a loud drunk who had finished going through the empty bottles in the stand facing theirs, and was hopefully eyeing the bottles they had not yet packed away.
As I said, Commendator Burrlotto combines innovation and tradition. Innovation in the newer wines, for example Elatis, a rosé that they're forced to bottle as table wine because none of the appellations applicable to the Langhe region contemplate rosé wines. Their whites are also innovative -- they're made from Sauvignon -- as is some of their Barbera, if one can call still call a Barbera aged in small oak innovative. Other wines of the line are instead quite traditional, and range from light and easy to drink -- Dolcetto & Freisa -- through richly aromatic and versatile -- Pelaverga -- and on to profound and extraordinarily complex -- Barolo.
Commedator Burlotto Elatis Vino Rosato
55 % Nebbiolo, 35% Pelaverga and 10% Barbera
Pale rose with brilliant ruby reflections. The bouquet is fresh, with lively brambly berry fruit supported by some greenish aromatic accents and hints of sandalwood with pleasant underbrush and some spice from the rgapes. On the palate it's rich, with lively red berry fruit supported by bright sour raspberry acidity, and by smooth sweet light tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant, and will work very well as an aperitif or with cookout foods. Versatile, fresh, and an ideal summer wine. Worth seeking out. For the summer months.
Commedator Burlotto Viridis Langhe DOC 2009
This is a Sauvignon Blanc; it's pale brassy yellow with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite intense, with, well, one writes what one smells, and here there's the seductive odor of a sweaty strawberry blonde. And since I'm male I don't object at all; a woman might find other aromas. As it opens there's airiness and a degree of gooseberry as well, but the aroma is what it is, and it's much more interesting than cat pee. On the palate it's ample, with rich sour gooseberry fruit supported by warmth and greenish acidity that flow into a clean rich gooseberry finish whose aromas bring the blonde to mind again. It's a wine that takes no quarter; if you like Sauvignon you will like it very much, but if you don't it simply won't work for you. Assuming you like it, it would be nice with grilled fish or fried meats and fish, and would also be something to think about serving at a cookout in the summer months. Quite nice in its freshness.
Commedator Burlotto Dives Langhe DOC 2008
Again, a Sauvignon Blanc. Pale greenish brassy gold with brilliant greenish brassy reflections. The bouquet is intense, with greenish accents mingled with gooseberry and green lemon acidity; nice depth and quite fresh. On the palate it's rich, with full bright lemony fruit supported by dusky bitter accents that reveal hints of balsamic sea salt and eucalyptus, and flow into a clean bright rather greenish finish. Pleasant, in a much more substantial key than the Viridis; it will work well with hearty fish dishes, and also creamy white meats; I likely wouldn't think to serve it at a cookout, and it also has the capacity to age nicely for a few years. If I had several bottles I would set a few aside.
Commedator Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga DOC 2009
Elegant pale ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense for a just-bottled wine, with sandalwood and berry fruit mingled with some greenish accents and pleasant spice. A lot going on and very young. On the palate it's ample and rich, with greenish spicy -- sandalwood and some greenish accents, mingled with nutmeg and hints of cardamom -- berry fruit supported by clean bright greenish tannins that flow into a clean rather green tannic berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant and quite fresh, and will be perfect with red meats of the sort that are difficult to pair, for example giblets and other organ meats, or with simple grilled meats in the summer months. Pelaverga is particular, it has a spicy richness that you will either like or not, but of you do you will enjoy it very much, and this is quite nice.
Commedator Burlotto Dolcetto D'Alba DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and violet rim. The bouquet is powerful, with bitter almond blossoms mingled with red berry fruit and some sweetish accents; quite pleasant to sniff and rich too. Considerable depth, and nice fruit laced with alcohol. On the palate it's rich, with clean lively berry fruit supported by deft slightly greenish acidity and by tannins that have a slightly bitter burr and flow into a clean bright bitter berry fruit finish. Considerable depth and quite nice, it will work very well with simple grilled meats or light stews, and will also work well with hearty pasta dishes or similar. Quite nice, and what a Dolcetto is all about.
Commedator Burlotto Barbera D'Alba 2008
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and lively cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is rich, with lively bright berry fruit supported by spice and fairly bright berry fruit acidity; it's quite typical of Barbera and you may find yourself swishing and sniffing repeatedly. On the palate it's rich, with lively berry fruit supported by slightly sour berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long clean berry fruit finish with underlying tartness. It's quick to write but very nice and an ideal food wine with grilled or roasted meats, and will also be nice with stews. You could also -- and Marina Burlotto shudders at this -- use it to season meat ravioli, as they do in the Alessandrino. Well worth seeking out.
Commedator Burlotto Aves Barbera D'Alba 2008
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and purple rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is powerful, with berry fruit laced with cedar and some spice, and also a fair amount of warmth. On the palate it's ample and quite soft, with fairly rich prune plum fruit supported by spicy tannins and fairly bright dusky acidity that flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's very young, and needs to come together yet, while the fruit is elegant but does suffer the influence of the wood, and it flows into a rather bitter finish. Pleasant in a more international key, and to be frank I found myself longing for the freshness of the Barnera D'Alba. This is like a person with a blanket thrown over him. Hidden.
Commedator Burlotto Mores Langhe DOC 2007
This is a bland of Barbera and Nebbiolo. Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish vegetal accents from Nebbiolo mingled with berry fruit and spice, and also a pleasant airiness. Quite a bit to sniff and pleasant, with intriguing spicy accents, in particular nutmeg that is from grapes. A lot to sniff. On the palate it's ample, with rich berry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright slightly greenish berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with roasts or stews now, though it also has the capacity to age nicely for 5-8 years
Commedator Burlotto Langhe Freisa DOC 2007
They have come to the understanding that Freisa needs some bottle age, and hence have kept it a little longer in bottle. Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with tart berry fruit supported by airy acidity and clean greenish accents with hints of rosa canina and peppery spice. Nice depth. On the palate it's quite fresh, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a greenish dusky burr and flow into a clean rather bitter finish with savory underpinning. Pleasant in a scrappy key, and will drink nicely with grilled meats -- lesser cuts more than a steak, though one could even do that, and also with stewed or braised red meats more than white. As such, it's a nice wine for a cookout or fall when it's not too cold to fire up the grill.
Commedator Burlotto Nebbiolo D'Alba 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fresh, with rich slightly lemony berry fruit supported by clean spice and slight greenish vegetal accents that many people don't associate with Nebbiolo, but that are instead integral to the grape. Nice depth and balance, and considerable freshness. On the palate it's ample and soft, with rich red berry fruit supported by bright almost citric acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh rather tannic finish with tart berry fruit underpinning. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with a stew or a roast, and will also be nice at a cookout with succulent grilled meats; it has quite enough tannin and acidity to stand up to a porterhouse cut cooked rare.
Commedator Burlotto Barolo DOCG 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, with rosa canina and deft berry fruit supported by pleasant spice; it's very young but displays considerable depth and has a lot going for it, and is obviously at the beginning of a long climb,. On the palate it's full and rich, with elegant cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a lively brambly youth to them and by deft leathery mineral acidity that flows into a dry berry fruit tannic finish. It's very young, and though one could drink it now with a steak it needs time, a couple of years, at least, and will do very impressive things in a decade or more. A wine that will be impressive if you give it time, in a fairly traditional style.
Commedator Burlotto Acclivi Barolo DOCG 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich berry fruit supported by nutmeg laced spice from grape and delicate berry fruit; it's quite harmonious and very young; there are obviously many things yet to develop in the nose. It's not quite like looking at a half-finished canvas, but almost. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with rich red berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish with deft tannic underpinning. Quite pleasant, though again very young and now it's a toddler wandering the schoolyard. It needs at least a couple of years to get it bearings and decide where it will go. It will be worth waiting for too.
Commedator Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections. The bouquet is young but quite impressive, with elegant spice -- nutmeg and hints of clove -- mingled with cherry prune and some rosa canina. Beautiful though very, very young. At the beginning of a very long climb. Impressive. On the palate it's rich and smooth, with powerful cherry plum fruit supported by dusky acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant and will drink very well with roasts or stews, though one would be a fool to open in before 3-5 years, because it's a wine that will age for decades, and to interrupt that path now would simply be wrong.
Commedator Burlotto Vigneto Cannubi Barolo 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with some rosa canina and deft berry fruit spice mingled with some greenish accents with hints of leaf tobacco and alcohol. Very young, and though it has spent several months in bottle it's really not ready yet. On the palate it's full and quite smooth with soft fresh berry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly tart finish. It's quite elegant, and very young, but doesn't have the depth of the Monvigliero, and I would give it time. Some fellow journalists have said it's readier than the other crus, but readier is a relative term. At least 5 years, before it will be ready to think about being drunk.
Commendator Burlotto's Site (they also have a nice Agriturismo)
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