Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Diary 21: on the move at Mauro Veglio’s Barolo

Founded during the period when modernism had just taken hold in the region, Mauro Veglio‘s Barolo, like many other estates, is now going through a subtle change of direction.  To go back to the early days, Mauro himself started to label his own wine in 1992, having taken over the business in 1986 at the age of 25.  Based in Annunziata, La Morra, and influenced by near-neighbour and famous modernist, Elio Altare, there was a new emphasis on quality work in the vineyards, vinification with rotofermenters and new French oak barriques.  (For more on this style, see Visits in BBR which includes an unforgettable meeting with Chiara Boschis, the original Barolo Girl.)

More recently, as Mauro began to think about the future, in 2017 he turned to his nephew Alessandro who had his own Alessandro Veglio label from vineyards that had been inherited by Mauro’s brother.  Resisting the temptation to sell up, he and Alessandro have reunited the family vineyards and have Alessandro in place to take the business forward. The result is an estate with an enviable range of MGA wines – Arborina, Gattera and a highly-prized sliver in Rocche dell’Annuziata, all in La Morra, Castelleto in Monforte d’Alba and Paiagallo in Barolo – as well as a highly reliable Barolo classico. To this, they have now been able to rent plots in Serralunga d’Alba for a wine that will appear in due course. Both in the structure of the company and in the approach to winemaking, things are on the move for Mauro Veglio’s Barolo.

Alessandro with Daniela and Mauro Veglio
Alessandro with Daniela and Mauro Veglio, image from mauroveglio.com
What’s new in the vineyard?

Discussing the work in the vineyard, Alessandro is a great believer in the value of netting which is increasingly seen in Barolo. For him, the issue is not just that they could protect your year’s work from being destroyed in a few minutes. He sees two advantages in addition to protection from complete disaster. For a uniform quality, it is really helpful to have the netting if a small hailstorm hits a part of the vineyard. The netting reduces the need for laborious sorting and the spread of disease on damaged grapes. Also, the nets do provide a small amount of shade. The challenge of the much warmer climate is the damage that high solar radiation does, burning the fruit, rather than just higher temperatures. The shade provided by the netting is helpful in this situation. The results can be seen in the freshness of the 2017s, from a hot vintage, reviewed below.

Netting in Barolo, not beautiful, but useful
Netting in Barolo, not beautiful, but useful
What’s new in the cellar?

Under Alessandro’s influence and working with Mauro, things are also on the move in the cellar.  Dedicated vertical fermentation vats have been bought for each of the Barolo MGA wines. These replace the use of the rotofermenter, meaning that there is no need to hurry things along for space reasons. Overall the aim is a soft and full extraction. After a couple of days of cold maceration, half of the fruit is destemmed but not crushed for a light carbonic maceration. Fermentation is with ambient yeast and for the MGA wines maceration on the skins lasts for 20–25 days. The aim is pure aromatic aromas and balanced wines with present but gentle tannins.  Most of the MGA wines are aged in barriques with 30 per cent new oak, but Paiagallo and the Serralunga wine is aged in large casks.  Having made these modifications to the winemaking, it will be fascinating to see how Mauro Veglio continues to evolve. 

 

The wines

All 2017 vintage, 14.5% abv. Where the wine is from a single MGA (i.e. cru/sub-zone of Barolo DOCG), I have added the name of the municipality in brackets in which the MGA is located.

Barolo – Made from fruit from younger vineyards in a number of MGAs, vinified together as in the past; 10 days on the skins, aged in French oak barriques, 15-20% new, 80% 2nd and 3rd use, for 24 months, no filtration or fining, 25,000 bottles. Beautifully fragrant, complex flavours of red plum and raspberry, smoke and earth; medium-bodied with really firm m+ tannins, medium length, 16.5/20, 17 when the tannins soften.

Barolo Arborina (La Morra) – 2.5 ha, at top and one at bottom of the MGA, 270m, S and SE facing, planted 1970 and ’88; poor soils Sant’Agata Fossili marls. 6,000 bottles. Aged in French oak barriques, 30% new for 24 months (as are Gattera and Castelletto). Pure, direct, subtle  (more singular than the classico) red fruit with cranberry, raspberry and red plum plus cinnamon, high-intensity palate, rapier-like acidity and fine tannins, huge potential to age due to the precision of the fruit, m++ length, 17+

Barolo Gattera (La Morra) – 1.5 ha planted in the 1950s, total 3.5 ha, 250m, SE to SW facing, where Sant Agata Fossili marls meet the compact brown marls of Castiglione, 12 days on the skins, 8,500 bottles. Palest of these five wines. Slightly muted fruit with a red plum to blackberry fruit and a tobacco note on the nose, overt vanilla and sweet spice of new oak on the palate, good balance between oak and fruit, rounded tannins, m+ length, 16.5  I discussed the new oak aroma on this wine with Alessandro and he said that although most of the MGA wines are aged in the same way, sometimes one will show more new oak at the early stage.

Barolo Castelletto  (Monforte d’Alba) – 3.5 ha with a further 0.5 ha for Langhe Nebbiolo, SE facing, 250-400 m, planted at the end of 1970s and 1994; calcareous soils and a windy site (slows down ripeness), 6,000 bottles. Touch deeper in colour and a red tint to ruby–garnet. Closer to the tobacco/deeper red fruit of the Gattera than to Arborina. Floral/red fruit element then began to emerge. Rich and textured mid-palate, really satisfying; has the flavour intensity to balance the firmer Monforte tannins, m++ length, 17

Barolo Paiagallo (Barolo) – 0.65 ha, north of the better known Terlo MGA and adjacent to Barolo village; sandy marls, SE facing, planted in the mid-1980s. 20-25 days on the skins, only a couple of pump-overs each day; of these wines the only one to be aged in a 30 hL cask for 24 months. (Alessandro told me that as the first vintage of this wine was in 2016, it went into a brand new cask, but still did not taste oaky. Initially, this was the most forward aromatically of the five wines.  Intense redcurrant, red plum fruit, a hint of added ripeness, firm fine vertical tannins, m++ length, very elegant. This promises good things for the new direction at Mauro Veglio. 17+

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