2016 Enzo Boglietti Barolo Boiolo


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I’ve been bumping up against the wines of Enzo Boglietti for many years- the first time being, I think, back around 2001 or ‘02 when several appeared in a blind tasting of nearly 300 Barolos and Barbarescos done over three days in Alba.  Boglietti’s wines were a bit polarizing because their dark, sweet fruit and toasty new oak flavors really stood out.  The room was always divided on them- some tasters loved them and scored them highly, while others, well, not so much.  I called them a guilty pleasure.  But, as the years passed, in their annual appearance at this tasting, the Boglietti wines began to stand out less and less for their obviousness and more and more for their quality.  It was about four or five years ago when a bottling I had in a restaurant in La Morra finally convinced me that there was something really special going on at this small winery located just down the street from the center of La Morra. I resolved to learn more.  It took a couple of years to actually secure an appointment but, finally, a few summers ago, I was finally able to sit down with Enzo himself and his enologist Lapo Berti to find out what was driving the big change here.  Like a lot of producers in the region, the Bogliettis were local farmers first, and, for generations had raised cattle and grew various crops besides growing grapes which they routinely sold to the co-op and several large producers. Enzo told me he was finally driven to bottle an actual Boglietti wine in 1991 following the dire collapse in Italian milk prices that put the family farm in peril.  Enzo, encouraged by family friends like Roberto Voerzio and Eraldo Viberti, realized he had some incredible resources in vineyard holdings like Brunate, Fossati and Boiolo, ultra- important La Morra sites- and proceeded to convert a horse stable into a makeshift winery, equip it with a lot of new barrels and join the wave of new wineries making modern, so-called ‘international styled’ renditions of Barolo. Those early vintages were the ones I first tasted back in the day but, as time went on and Enzo learned more and more about the vines he had, he realized that his winemaking was masking their true expression and decided to make a change.  He built a beautiful new winery and gradually phased out many of his small French oak barrels, replacing them with larger format wood, and set about recreating the Enzo Boglietti style to better embrace local winemaking traditions.  The results have been, well, really impressive!  The wines I went through that June tasting were, to a cuvee, stunning!  Though they have only irregular importation arrangements in the US, I have managed to grab small amounts of my two favorite Boglietti wines.  Boiolo, the large, rather amorphously shaped MGA located around the cellar in La Morra, is, along with a Fossati bottling, probably the Boglietti’s signature wines.  Loaded with limestone, it produces a Barolo with textbook La Morra fleshy appeal, dark, dusky flavors and round tannins.  Warm and richly aromatic, the 2016 is heady with dark plums, cinnamon, cedar shavings and floral notes.  It’s plush, fun to drink now and utterly savory and delicious!  Unlike a lot of 2016s I’ve recently tried, it’s not in a shell yet either, so why not have one tonight?
On the other hand, there is the Boglietti bottling of Arione, a more recent acquisition of the family’s in the southernmost vineyard of Serralunga d’Alba.  Located at higher altitude on sandier soils than the rest of the commune, it’s a vineyard known more for producing fresher wines with Burgundy-like finesse and aromatics than for the pure power and tannin Serralunga is known for.  Arione is probably best known these days for the Giacomo Conterno bottling, but you can experience the same elegance and purity of expression right here in Boglietti’s.  When I say ‘purity’ and ‘elegance,’ I am referring more to Chambolle than Vosne here, meaning that there is considerable muscle and structure underneath this 2018 Barolo that really brings on the anise, scorched earth, flamed orange peel and pine resin on a mid-sized frame that will only get better the longer you can wait.  This is a very exciting offering from one of the area’s real up-and-comers.  I like saying ‘I knew them when……    I only have a few cases of each and both are in stock now.
James Suckling on the Boiolo: A ripe, layered Barolo with plums, cherries and hints of hazelnuts and flowers. It’s full with pretty tannins and a linear texture that draws out the finish. Drink or hold. 93 points