When you take all the different grapes and styles into account, the diversity coming out of Italy can make your head spin with delight. Despite the variety, Barolo and Barbera remain among the most recognizable. Attilio Ghisolfi features both of those, and more, in their portfolio. The original nine acres of land that Attilio Ghisolfi farms for their wines have been in the family since 1895. However, it wasn’t until 1988 when they added another 21 acres that they began to make wine under their own label. I sat down recently over lunch at Arno in Manhattan and tasted through both their current offerings and a handful of older Library releases. Here’s a look at a few of my favorites.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2009 Langhe Rosso Pinay — Suggested Retail Price $24.99.
This wine is composed entirely of pinot noir. The fruit was sourced from 12-year-old vines. Aging took place in small oak barrels over 12 months. 270 cases of this offering were produced. Mushroom and red fruit aromas are present on the nose. Cherry and strawberry flavors dominate the palate. White pepper and cinnamon spice are joined by sour cherry on the above average finish. This is a very solid example of pinot noir from a region not really thought of for this grape. It works well all by itself but excels with food.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2011 Barbera d’Alba Maggiora — Suggested Retail Price $24.99.
The fruit for this wine, 100-percent Barbera, came from vines with five to 15 years of age on them. Oak aging took place over 15 months in an even split of small French oak and large Slovenian oak. 2,500 six-bottle cases were produced. Violets dominate the nose of this 3–year-old Barbera. Red fruits such as raspberry and a bit of plum are evident on the succulent palate. A bit of dusty cocoa emerges on the finish, joining the red fruit characteristics which continue on. Firm acidity and perfect proportion make this a food wine that will pair up with a remarkably wide swath of different cuisines.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2010 Barolo Bussia — Suggested Retail Price $59.99.
This 100-percent Nebbiolo wine was produced from fruit sourced at an altitude of 300 to 350 meters. The vines had five to 13 years of age on them. Oak aging took place over 30 months in large French barrels. 830 cases were produced. Earth and violet aromas are prominent on the nose. The palate is rich and deep with red fruits dominating. Bits of black fruit make a subtle appearance as well. Black tea and lots of earth and chicory mark the substantial finish. Firm tannins yield with some air. This Barolo is primed to enjoy with food. Osso Bucco would be an inspired match.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2006 Barolo Bussia — Suggested Retail Price $59.99.
The fruit source, handling, and aging was identical to the 2010 vintage. 350 cases were produced. The additional four years of age on this Barolo lend to a slight tinge of brown in the hue. From the nose to the palate and all the way through a terrific finish, red fruits, spice, and earth all come together in a remarkably cohesive package. Firm acid and softer overall flavors make this wine even more approachable than the 2010. This is a beautiful wine that I simply didn’t want to put down. I had the opportunity to revisit the open bottle a day later and it had continued to evolve and was even more revealing.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2010 Barolo “Bricco Visette” — Suggested Retail Price $79.99.
The fruit for this wine comes from vines with 15 to 20 years of age on them. It’s composed entirely of Nebbiolo. Barrel aging took place over 30 months in a combination of large French oak (70 percent), and small oak barrels (30 percent). 620 cases were produced. Bold red fruit aromas light up the nose here. Bits of earth are present as well. A host of spices present on the palate along with strawberry, bits of raspberry and cherry. Chicory, earth, and continued red fruit flavors dominate the prodigious finish which has length and profundity to spare. Firm, gripping tannins will yield with some air or time in the bottle. This wine is delicious now after decanting, but it will benefit greatly from more age. Lay it down for a decade and drink it in the decade that follows for the most delicious results.
Taken as a whole, the wines of Attilio Ghisolfi are quite impressive. They are also rather distinct. The pinot noir was an unexpected treat. Produced using old-world methodology, its flavor profile is right up my alley for that grape. The Barbera is a stunning value for such a delightful wine that will marry brilliantly with so many food styles. The Barolos are top-shelf and each expression is distinct from the others, which isn’t the case with every producer. Bussia in particular is a fabulous value for less than $60. Barolo of this quality, depth, and age-worthiness often sells for closer to $90. If you’re inclined to lay some Barolo down, it would be an excellent choice. Bricco Visette has elegance, grace, and an inherent gravitas. It’s also a contender for aging. In any case, these are delicious wines you’ll want to consider for your table.