2017 Gianni Gagliardo Fallegro IGT Langhe Bianco
In 1974, Gianni Gagliardo purchased a small vineyard in the Roero, a few kilometers across the Tanaro River from his own vineyard estate near La Morra in Barolo, specifically in order to make a little white wine. He loved white wine, you see, while most people in the Barolo region believe a wine’s first duty is to be red. The vineyard was planted to Favorita, a rare white grape directly related to the Vermentino. Vermentino thrives in the coastal regions of Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia where it makes a rich, saline wine with biting acidity but, in landlocked, mountainous Langhe, it suffered from a near-fatal identity crisis.
Most was dull, uninteresting and the stuff in €3 carafes of all the locals playing dominos outside the cafes. So poor was its reputation, Favorita became nearly extinct. But Gagliardo persevered, mainly because he himself loved drinking the wine he made from those old vines. He learned to coax more character from his Favorita by putting a good portion of it through malo-lactic fermentation in tank, a process that softened the grapes notorious acidity and added bit of palate weight to its lean frame. He also took to bottling it fresh and cold with a little trapped CO2 in the bottle. That gave the wine a bit of a lively spritz, especially in the early part of its life.
And lo and behold, the wine Gianni called his creation Fallegro (Fa, for Fa-vorita and Allegro, Italian for enjoyment) and, when he came up with some snazzy packaging with that pretty dab of red sealing wax, the wine became a sensation. Now, in its 43rd vintage, and made by Gianni’s son Stefano, Fallegro single-handedly led to a resurgence of interest in this once lowbrow grape. And while you can still drink €3 Favorita in any café in Barolo, it’s definitely not this one! Bright, fresh and snappy, that bit of fizz quickly gives way to a gorgeous, mineral-driven, almost salty palate, rich with Asian pear, melon and peach flavors. Bone dry and only 12% alcohol, it goes down all too easily all by itself but it’s perfect with a bit of salty, smoky prosciutto, Vitello Tonnato, oily fish like fresh anchovy, salads or……whatever. I’ve been known to drink an entire bottle in the time it takes to chop the veggies for dinner! Only 3000 bottles of this very habit forming white are produced and I guess Gianni and Stefano are still drinking most of it!