When we talk about humility in winemakers, the family behind Nada Fiorenzo is the textbook definition. Based in Barbaresco, located in a sea of vineyards (halfway up a little hill and down a dirt driveway, the family dog will greet you at your car), this gorgeous estate is making beautiful wine.
But First, A Litte Geography. Barbaresco is in the Langhe, rolling hills surrounding the town of Alba in Piemonte in northwestern Italy. Known for the Nebbiolo grape (along with Dolcetto and Barbera), this acclaimed town is home to the famed Alba white truffle—the aromatic tuber that transports you to gastronomic heaven when it is shaved over eggs or pasta.
Barolo also is located in the Langhe. (Some refer to Barolo as the “king” of Nebbiolo, and Barbaresco the “queen.”) Barbaresco is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and without a doubt, one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. This town is Mecca for today’s sommelier.
Four Generations of the Nada Family Business. The Nada family has been involved in the wine business in Barbaresco for four generations, dating back to 1880. Carlo Nada bought a piece of land called Rombone (a vineyard located in Treiso, a small hamlet in Barbaresco) and made a small amount of juice, which was sold mostly to local restaurants in the Langhe. Carlo’s son Fiorenzo inherited a small patch of land from his father, but decided not to continue the family business and sold the grapes.
Next in line was Bruno: he left the Langhe for a more “glamorous” life in Alba where he became a teacher. He never fully severed ties with the peasants farming the family land in Rombone, and proposed his family build a winery there. In 1982, the first bottle under the Nada Fiorenzo name was produced.
Modern-Day Bottlings Spearheaded by Danilo. Today, Danilo is at the helm of the estate. In his early 30s, he is kind, soft-spoken and incredibly intelligent when it comes to the vine and the cellar. The estate’s line-up includes Barbaresco (four different bottlings), Langhe Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera...and a very interesting bottle I shared with Danilo when I visited the estate. It is called Seifile and is primarily Barbera, with the rest Nebbiolo. Both of the vines for this wine were planted in 1964. Danilo jokes that everyone thinks the bottle says “Selfie.” All jokes aside, this bottle was world-class and is a bit of a tribute to the old blended wines of the region, truly an age-worthy, serious wine from the family.
The cellar is connected to the house, where the Nada family lives. When Danilo gave us a tour, his mother was labeling some wines. She doesn’t speak English, but her eyes glittered with pride at her son’s commitment. Barrels of all sizes are stored in the cellar, depending on the grape and bottling. There were some smaller barriques (225L) and huge Slavonian oak barrels (from Croatia, not Slovenia as the name might suggest). The bigger the barrel, the less the juice is in contact with the oak, thus producing wines without much of that “toasted” or “spice box” quality.
Bottles to Drink Today, Bottles to Cellar for Tomorrow. The Barbaresco “Manzola” is one of the prettiest wines I’ve tasted from the region. It has notes of roses and dirt, but is so soft on the palate and pairs so well with local cuisine—tagliatelle with wild boar ragu, veal plin, lamb chops with rosemary, and anything with truffle (of course). The Dolcetto and Barbera are incredibly tasty, as well. These are “less serious” bottlings meant to be drunk younger, while waiting for the Nebbiolo to age a bit in the cellar.
THE WINES: NADA FIORENZO
Barbera d’Alba 2014
Langhe Nebbiolo 2014
Langhe Rosso “Seifile” 2010
Barbaresco “Manzola" 2013
Barbaresco “Rombone" 2008