Is there another grape that delivers like Barbera does? It's most often treated as a "mere" workhorse grape while Nebbiolo takes the spotlight. But I don't know if there's any other variety that more frequently rises above a lowly status to produce outstanding wines at stunning values (okay, maybe Cab Franc). And Fabrizio Iuli is an undeniable master of Barbera. Secluded in the hills of eastern Piedmont, Fabrizio is turning out some of the best Barbera (and Nebbiolo, and Pinot Noir, and Grignolino) we know of.
Today, we're pleased to offer a wide range from Fabrizio Iuli.
Barolo and Barbaresco get all the attention, but as a winemaking region Italy's Piedmont is incredibly diverse. A little over 50 miles from Barolo lie the Monferrato hills. Here, while there's plenty of Nebbiolo, the best sites are given over to Barbera. Indeed, genetic profiling indicate that Barbera was born in Monferrato and migrated west. And Monferrato Barbera is special: when given prime plantings and old vine material, it takes on an extra dimension of floral and fruity complexity to balance its always-sturdy acidity.
Fabrizio Iuli lives in the tiny town of Montaldo di Cerrina with his wife Summer Wolff (a Finger Lakes native!) and their two children. There's no more than 100 people in the town, and the Iuli family is vital to its history. Fabrizio's grandfather planted the first vines – Barbera and others – in the 1930s. Fabrizio took over the winery in 1998 and continues to protect the winemaking traditions of the region. In addition to Barbera, he also cultivates Nebbiolo, Grignolino, and Slarina and Baratuciat, two ancient Piedmontese varieties found nowhere else.
These incredible plantings have been farmed organically from the get-go and have never seen any chemicals. Traditional practices extend to the cellar as well, with only spontaneous fermentations and aging in larke oak botti. These wines are utterly Piedmontese, balancing seriousnesss and complexity with sheer drinkability, mineral depths with lifted elegance. All are delicious now, but will continue to reward any time you can give them in the cellar.