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Two Cru Wines that Celebrate the Accomplished Viticultural Heritage of Piemonte

Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa are two cru vineyards giving rise to two cru wines that are a part of the Renaissance project of Fontanafredda winery in Piemonte. The Renaissance project is an idea to communicate something new, and values, while still staying true to the Fontanafredda brand and its history. All has been ideated in connection with the 165th anniversary of the Fontanafredda estate which was founded in 1858. It was an estate born out of the love between Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of Italy, and Rosa Vercellana (called “Bela Rosin”), the mistress and later the wife of Vittorio Emanuele II. History is, therefore, important at Fontanafredda but ethical and sustainable core values and a self-critical approach are just as essential for the Farinetti family, the present-day owners of Fontanafredda winery.

The Renaissance project is the tool to talk about a new rebirth, says Fontanafredda winery in the project brochure, a Green Renaissance. Through the Barolo Serralunga d’Alba DOCG wine, Fontanafredda wants to invite a deeper discussion regarding change, core values, sustainability, and the future. The presentation of Barolo Serralunga d’Alba DOCG 2018 in 2021 was year Zero, the year of Hope (Speranza). The presentation of Barolo Serralunga d’Alba DOCG 2019 centered around the theme of Trust (Fiducia) and coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first Serralunga d’Alba Barolo DOCG wine produced in 1992. The aim is to in 10 reflections over a 10-year-period analyze different sentiments that “in the history of our civilization have given rise to collective rebirths, recounting them via three art forms: the art of making wine, the art of writing, and the art of representing.”

I find it a very interesting initiative, especially to be open to self-criticism and to discuss possible changes that are needed for a better future. Of course, it is also a way to draw attention to Fontanafredda itself as a winery and its wines but that is what every winery does, or should do, and why not concentrate on the discussion of current-day topics? I also find the collaborative spirit that I noticed at the Serralunga d’Alba tasting last year as a step in the right direction. The fact that the single producers in the blind tasting were never revealed because the Serralunga d’Alba vintners wanted the focus to be on the territory as a whole, not the single producers, was forward-thinking for being in an Italian context.

Read more about the history of Fontanafredda and Barolo in Community and Fresh Perspectives Becomes Fundamental for Barolo Serralunga d’Alba.

Two cru wines very much connected to the Fontanafredda history seem perfect for the Piemonte and Aosta theme in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group for the month of November.

The Vigna La Delizia cru vineyard

Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa

The two cru vineyards Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa date to the period of Emanuele Alberto, the son of Vittorio Emanuele II, and they are very much a fundamental part of the history of Fontanafredda winery. The Vigna La Delizia Barolo wine was produced up until 1999 while the Vigna La Villa Barolo up until 2007. The “rebirth” of these two wines was a bit of a random event, a sort of a blessing in disguise. Andrea Farinetti says that 2019 was a great vintage all over Piemonte, but they were unlucky enough to be hit with a hailstorm on the 4th of September that ruined the grapes in their 70-year-old Vigna La Rosa. Therefore, they decided to return to produce Barolo cru wines from the two historical vineyards Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa.

It turned out to also fit perfectly into the Renaissance project, not only as a recuperation of two historical wines but also as a way to tell the story of the local territory, its micro-climate, its people, and its history.

“If it is true that there is a need for a new Renaissance, it happens through the people, who are looking for new sentiments; it happens in this case in the more sustainable approach, which for us in agriculture means organic. But also in the rediscoveries, in the rebirths. For 165 years, we have been pioneers and we aim to celebrate the character of each wine as best as we can by giving them the unconditional ability to be messengers of the territory,”

says Andrea Farinetti.

Vigna La Delizia

Vigna La Delizia is a vineyard plot comprising 5,646 hectares at 370 meters altitude that is located within the MGA Lazzarito in Serralunga d’Alba. The soil is clay and rich in calcareous marl that together with the altitude gives the Barolo wine its freshness, verticality, spicy, and herbal character. The herbal – balsamico in Italian – is a typical trait for the Serralunga d’Alba wines. The tannins are vibrant yet smooth.

Vigna La Villa

Vigna La Villa is a vineyard plot that, on the other hand, is located in the Barolo area within the MGA Paiagallo. The 3,164 hectares large plot at an elevation of 320 meters has mainly clay soil with “infiltrations of slit and sand.” It favors a more fruit-forward, rich, and elegant wine with soft and smooth tannins.

The Vigna La Villa cru vineyard with Andrea Farinetti

Both Barolo Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa do the fermentation in steel tanks, then they mature for about 30 months in 20 hl large oak barrels followed by 8 months in the bottle.

When I visited earlier this year for the presentation and re-launch of the Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa 2019 wines, we tasted both barrel samples – 2021 and 2020 – and the older vintages 1996 and 1982. It was a wonderful way to better understand the history and the potential of these two cru wines. In the barrel samples, you could feel the differences between the two cru vineyards/wines and the difference in vintages. Vigna La Delizia with its distinct freshness, floral, and herbal notes, especially medicinal herbs such as mint and eucalyptus, and more edgy tannins. Vigna La Villa with more fruity and mineral notes, a round and rich character, and soft tannins. 2021 was a great year and the Vigna La Villa from that year has better acidity and linearity while the 2020 is much more opulent and rich.

If we look at the Barolo Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa 2019 wines they follow the typical differences in traits where Barolo Vigna La Delizia had a more distinct freshness and herbal and spicy notes while Barolo Vigna La Villa expressed more earthy and fruity notes, also a hint of rose petal.

When it comes to the older vintages of Barolo Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa1999 and 1982 – the proof of longevity in these Barolo wines was amazing. Both cru wines showed an admirable freshness in both vintages. Barolo Vigna La Delizia 1999 had a nice saltiness, the hints of medicinal herbs were less strong, and nice notes of tobacco while the fruit in Barolo Vigna La Villa of the same vintage had turned more mature followed by vinous and spicy notes. The herbal side in Barolo Vigna La Delizia 1982 had turned more to dry herbs, lots of tobacco, notes of dirt and earth, and a feeling of barnyard before it opened up. The tannins had, furthermore, smoothened out very well. Barolo Vigna La Villa 1982 had also developed earthy and spicy notes followed by mature and rich fruit together with well-rounded tannins.

Even if both Barolo Vigna La Delizia and Vigna La Villa are two excellent expressions of Fontanafredda and Barolo, I tend to prefer the cru Barolo Vigna La Delizia for its enhanced freshness, linearity, and elegance.

Check out the articles of the other writers in the ItalianFWT

Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

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