Alberto Alessandria was in a talkative mood when I arrived just after 9.30 on Wednesday morning (25th July). He showed me round the winery before going into the tasting room which has magnificent views over the valley below La Morra (he is based in the small hamlet of Santa Maria, a couple of miles outside La Morra).
We skipped the Dolcetto and went straight onto one of my favourite wines in 2007, the Barbera d'Asti "Ruge" 2006. Alberto explained that it had been too acidic before so they had held it back until they felt it is ready. It has quite an evolved nose now with a warming palate, rounded and together. The tannins are soft and dancing around the slightly baked fruit. The acidity is balanced and the wine has decent length - can be enjoyed now. The 2008 won't be released until October and is different inasmuch as the oak used to age it gives the wine a different flavour profile to the wine at first. I didn't taste it with Alberto but took a bottle away with me so experienced it more fully and by the end of the bottle, the oak character was completely integrated, making this very similar to earlier vintages. This suggests the wine needs a year or two (at least) for the fruit to shine through but will be every bit as good in the long run.
There are three Barolo wines, each from a different vineyard with different characteristics. I have never experienced the Capolot but took a bottle of the 2007 away with me so will find out more soon enough. The Galina 2008 has a meaty nose which is less oaky than the 2007. The tannins are very smooth and the fruit is good. Alberto told me this is a hot vineyard, good for tannin ripeness (good for sugar ripeness too - the wine is a well balanced 15%!) and, certainly, the tannins are lovely and sweet, making the wine very drinkable now. There is good grip and lovely fruit, very open for 2008, and a long finish.
I asked Alberto if he had thought of blending the various wines as an experiment but he was adamant he was going to keep them separate as each offered something different. The Roggeri 2007 is less tannic than the 2006 but still, in keeping with wines from this vineyard, is one of the more tannic Barolos I have encountered. Less alcoholic than the Galina at a mere 14.5%, it has a more ethereal nose but is, for now, a harder wine. Good potential here but, as expected, it needs time - 10 years at least for the tannins to round out allowing the fruit to realise its full potential. Check back in 2025!