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I met Silvano Bolmida (www.silvanobolmida.it) at his new winery, a short distance outside the town of Monforte d’Alba in the Langhe, south of Turin. Here he makes that famous Italian wine, Barolo.
So new is the winery that at the time of writing the area destined to be the tasting room is not yet finished although Silvano assured us that by next Easter 2021 all will be ready. He has 7.4 hectares of vines from which he produces around 30,000 bottles of wine per year, though with the new winery this should increase to 50,000. This will not be at the expense of quality but merely a consequence of the fact that in the past he was unable to vinify all his production himself. The new building sits at the centre of a natural amphitheatre in the famous area called Bussia and Silvano was happy to explain how he has different vines on different aspects depending on the amount of sun available. The sunny southwest facing slopes are planted with Nebbiolo destined for Barolo whereas the Nebbiolo on the less-favoured northwestern side will be used for the less prestigious Langhe Nebbiolo, an easy-drinking wine that can be released much earlier than Barolo. In fact, Silvano and his family are in a moment of transition as the enterprise grows and his two children, Francesco and Alessandra, both university educated oenologists, enter the business.
Silvano’s practices are Certified Sustainable Agriculture and he eschews the use of chemicals, always looking for natural solutions to any problems that arise. All his red wines are fermented in steel with a minimum of seven days using pumping over or remontage to maximise extraction of tannins and polyphenols before being left for between 70 to 130 days on the skins. The wines then spend 12 to 24 months in barrels on the lees. The wines are then returned to stainless steel containers before being bottled unfiltered. They then remain for at least 12 months in the bottle before being released.
We sat in the old farmhouse, where he was born, and sampled some of the results of Silvano’s meticulous and innovative approach to winemaking. We started with a 2018 Nebbiolo Langhe. Garnet in colour, this wine spent eight months in barrels before returning for two months in steel and then being bottled. With cinnamon and cherries on the nose and on the palate a good acidity with light tannins, this is a fresh wine to enjoy with antipasti or perhaps fresh ricotta.
We then moved to the main event, the Barolos, and we started with a Barolo Bussia 2017. Strictly speaking, we should not have been trying this as it had only been bottled a month ago but, then again, why not? This has a deep garnet colour and a bouquet rich in vanilla that did not carry through to the palate. The tannins were still strong with a good acidity. As this wine has another 11 months in the bottle before release, it is fair to say that the tannins should be softer by then.
Next came Bussia Vigna dei Fantini 2016. Again, this was a deep garnet colour but with leather, cherries, and a hint of mint on the nose and in the mouth the tannins are now softer with some salinity and liquorice.
The following Barolo was Le Coste Monforte 2015. It has a deep garnet colour tending towards ruby, and the bouquet was mild vanilla with leather and cherries. Very soft tannins balanced with acidity and salinity give a good structure. This is a wine to enjoy with a good steak.
For the finale, we enjoyed a Bussia Riserva 2012. The colour was an intense ruby with hints of garnet and on the nose we found vanilla, leather, cinnamon and plums. The tannins were still strong with good acidity and bitter cherry. This is a great wine with plenty of aging potential.
Leaving Silvano’s winery I had the very strong feeling that this winery will go from strength to strength – guided by the driving force that is Silvano – but managed by Francesco and Alessandra who will have been lucky enough to have studied at the feet of a talented master.