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2019 #Piemonte | Ettore Germano winery, Serralunga d'Alba

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Ettore Germano is one of the must visit estates in Barolo area. Actually I planned it a long time in advance, but, as it happens sometimes, at one day the things go in a different way, not like you planned them. That particular Saturday was exactly like this, when everything was late, starting from morning and ending up in the evening. By some reasons I was almost an hour late to Ettore Germano #winery and missed an interesting part cellars, so I arrived just on time for wine tasting, but that was a great part, I should say.

By the way this amazing view is Lazzarito hill, one of the most famous #Barolo crus, giving super powerful and masculine wines.

Ettore Germano estate nowadays is run by Sergio Germano, the fourth generation of winemakers in the #family. History of the family's business starts in the end of the 19th century. The first generations, Francesco and Alberto Germano, were producing a very small quantity of wines for home use and good friends only. Third generation, Ettore Germano, was the founder of the brand, he was grown up in the vineyards, which he later restored in the 60s grafted the vines by himself. Ettore Germano winery was basically founded in 1975, when #vinification became more consistent and the first small party of the wine produced was sold to private customers and friends. In the 80s Sergio Germano started to take care of the winery after being graduated from enology school in Alba and gaining experience in other wineries of the area. In 1988 the first 5.000 bottles of Barolo, Dolcetto, and #Barbera of the estate came out to the market.

The estate is located in Serralunga d'Alba, one of the key villages in Barolo zone of Piemonte region. The Barolos of Serralunga have two distinguishing features: they are exceptionally structured, austere, tannic and full-bodied, but refined and expressive; the grapes from the area are able to give a good quality crops even in the hardest vintages, so many estates from another villages are using #Nebbiolo from Serralunga to balance Barolo blends and increase wines' complexity.

Ettore Germano estate owns parcels in Barolo crus like Vignarionda, Prapò, Cerretta, Lazzarito and in Alta Langa zone vineyard called Cigliè. On the picture above is Cerretta #cru located on the right side of the winery, and on the picture below is Prapò cru located right under the farmhouse. The hill is actually dangerously steep, I've made this picture standing on the balcony and looking down, it was even a bit scary as it is going down with a very sharp angle.

Sergio creates the wines with specific, very personal character. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to meet Sergio himself, hope next time, however when I tasted his wines I understood his personality (at least I think so). And, of course, all #Barolo crus have their own features, but they are very well managed by Sergio's winemaking talent. Seems that he takes the bests of the #terrior he work with and uses his own magic crystallizing it into the pure liquid form of fabulous Barolo wines. Same story is with the whites, which I also liked very much.

Alta Langa DOCG Extra Brut

Grapes: Pinot Noir 80%, Chardonnay 20%

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 14%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation for Chardonnay in medium-sized non toasted oak barrels, for Pinot Noir in stainless steel

Ageing: 30 months on the lees

Nose: croissant, peach, grapefruit, white flowers

Palate: rich, high acidity, creamy texture

This Alta Langa Metodo Classico is produced from the grapes grown in the vineyard called Cigliè, which is located on the hill at about 550 m altitude, overlooking Tanaro river, with the soils of calcareous and marl. Nowadays #estate has about 10 hectares in Cigliè under Chardonnay, Riesling, Nascetta, and Pinot Noir. This Alta Langa sparkling wine is very crispy, with well balanced acidity, delicate citrus notes, bread dough and buttery flavours as a consequence of a long ageing sur lee. Very nice #wine, refreshing and enjoyable. As I've discovered Alta Langa sparklings just recently, I would say it's a great bonus knowledge gained in this Barolo trip.

Langhe DOC Nascetta

Grapes: Nascetta 100%

Vintage: 2016

Alcohol: 12,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation 60% of the must in stainless steel with skin contact for about 4-5 days, the remaining 40% of the must in terracotta tanks with skin contact for about 15-20 days

Ageing: 6 months in stainless steel

Nose: lime zest, sage, thyme, nectarine

Palate: high acidity, saline, wet stones

Nascetta is indigenous to the zone and it's another pleasant discovery for me from Langhe. Previously I never knew such grape exists, tried it for first time at Ettore Germano that day. Certainly a very nice #grape, giving an interesting wine with a super sharp minerality, precise citrus flavours and that specific saline taste, which I personally like a lot in the wine. It has reminded me Carricante variety from Etna on Sicily, a unique terroir, where the grapes are grown under constant sea breezes, giving similar salty taste to the wines (in July that was an other great discovery for me during my trip to Etna). Liked very much this #Nascetta crafted by Sergio, a particular one, very well expression of the character of Alta Langa zone.

Herzu Langhe DOC Riesling

Grapes: Riesling Renano 100%

Vintage: 2017

Alcohol: 12,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel for about 40 days, no malolactic

Ageing: 6 months on the lees

Nose: green pineapple, petroleum, green grass, lemon

Palate: intense aromas, good structure, persistent

I'm a super fan of Rieslings and, of course, my lovely ones are from the coldest possible climates of Germany and Austria. I barely can compromise on the quality of #Riesling wine from any other countries, especially from hot climates (no, thank you) and for me it's truly hard to find the one, which could be placed in one row with my lovely Rieslings from Rheingau and Rheinhessen. So before tasting Sergio's Riesling I was, as usual, quite skeptical, but this #wine surprised me in a positive way. Fresh, highly aromatic with juicy citrus flavours, a bit of classy petroleum aromas, savory herbal hints, delicate fresh-cut-grass notes, precise structure and crisp acidity make the wine really beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me how much a talent of the winemaker matters, bravo Sergio.

Barbera d'Alba DOC Superiore della Madre

Grapes: Barbera 100%

Vintage: 2016

Alcohol: 15%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel for about 10 days with maceration on skins

Ageing: 12 months in French oak toasted tonno, 6 months in bottle

Nose: ripe blackberry, red cherry, pepper, vanilla

Palate: full body, round mouthfeel, black fruits

Good fruitforward Barbera with pronounced aromas and intense flavours of ripe red and black fruits, spicy oak notes and clear texture. Succulent, fleshy wine, can be paired well with meat dishes and medium-aged cheeses. And yes, it is 15% abv.

Barolo DOCG Cerretta

Grapes: Nebbiolo 100%

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 15%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel for about 40-45 days with maceration on skins

Ageing: 18-24 months in French oak untoasted tonno, 12-18 months in bottle

Nose: raspberry, forest floor, leather, tobacco

Palate: full body, high tannins

Cerretta hill located on the northern part of Serralunga at an altitude of 350-400 m above sea level. Soil structure mainly limestone with Sant’Agata fossils marl, the backbone giving the wine an excellent power and longevity. This Barolo Cerretta is crafted from grapes of 50 y.o. #vines planted on 6 hectares (the whole Cerretta cru is about 40 hectares). This is an austere Barolo, obviously created for a long ageing. Powerful, masculine, with rigid structure and slightly bitter in the mid palate, it has lots of oak ageing aromas like cloves, tobacco and leather. Keep it for another 20 years, unmistakable strategy to enjoy this wine, well if you are capable to wait for so long.

Barolo DOCG Prapò

Grapes: Nebbiolo 100%

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 14,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel for about 40-45 days with maceration on skins

Ageing: 18-24 months in the large oak casks, 12 months in bottle

Nose: dried strawberry, red currant, dried roses, black tea leaves

Palate: elegant, pleasant tannins, well-balanced

Lovely Barolo, my favorite from Sergio's line up. Very elegant, stylish, with fine character and exquisite personality. It has evident but well balanced #tannins, clear structure and complex aromas of polished wood, baking spices and dried red berries. Prapò is one of my favorite crus in Barolo zone. This is a microarea of only about 9 hectares in total, that was originally a part of the top of Cerretta hill, but the vineyards were divided in 2009. The #soils are mainly limestone with particles of sandstone, which expresses warm spices and red mature fruits in the wine. The estate's winery is located right on this vineyard and owns 2 hectares there, which gives only about 7,000 bottles per year, coming from vines of around 45 y.o. This wine can be aged for another 10-20 years easily to show full potential, but in the same time it is very approachable, so I would enjoy it right now with a great pleasure, again thanks to Sergio's magic.

Barolo DOCG Lazzarito Riserva

Grapes: Nebbiolo 100%

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol: 14,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel for about 50-60 days with maceration on skins

Ageing: 36 months in the large oak casks, 24 months in bottle

Nose: raspberry, dried herbs, cinnamon, liquorice

Palate: soft tannins, velvety structure, long finish

Crafted from the grapes grown in a very old vineyard, this exceptional powerful wine combines the structure of a very specific cru and extreme finesse of #Nebbiolo grape. Lazzarito cru was found and registered in the beginning of the 17th century, so this is perhaps the oldest vineyard in Barolo zone. It has in total about 30 hectares at an altitude of about 350 m and Ettore Germano estate owns an hectare with the best south west exposure. The vines of the estate in this vineyard were planted in 30s, the oldest they have. Lazzarito cru has calcareous and marly soils with some particles of sandstone, which results in the #wine with silky tannins, fine body and exceptional elegance. This wine is crafted as Riserva (5 years of ageing) because of the special character of Lazzarito terrior. Worth doing though.

Many thanks to Simona for being patient to my late arrival and for great management of my visit. Looking forward to come back to see the cellars and taste other vintages.

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