However, nothing is more rewarding than seeing an estate or a domain fallen from grace and getting its act together to be on the top again. Fontanafredda comes to mind, when I think about this. Since their foundation in 1858, this epic Piedmontese winery went to rag to riches and vice versa until the end of the 1990’s when It was acquired by Gruppa Bancario Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Since 2008 when Oscar Farinetti ( the brain behind eataly) acquired them, Fontanafredda is going like an straight arrow all the way to the top. In fact, the winery has been awarded the prestigious “ European Winery of the Year “ award by the American magazine Wine Enthusiast.
Fontanafredda, located in the Serralunga d'Alba commune, is one of Piedmont's largest wineries, with 122 hectares of vineyards in the Serralunga, Barolo and Diane d'Alba communes. As one of the bigger and oldest estates in the region they had a blue chip portfolio of vineyard holdings, including La Rosa, Lazzarito in Serralunga d’Alba and La Villain the Barolo commune to build cache. Under the leadership of Director General Giovanni Manetti and winemaker Danilo Drocco, Fontanafredda saw a dramatic improvement, but for me the big change was the introduction of a range of single vineyard wines from their classic vineyards which they have called Tenimenti Fontanafredda.
Luca Martini, the sommelier
In addition, Fontanafredda is in the final steps of being full organic. Beginning with the 2019 harvest all their 120 hectares will be fully organic. The winery has also a Vino libero certification for the reduction of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and sulphites. This practices are very encouraging and demonstrate that Fontanafredda strives to preserve the uniqueness of the region landscape for future generations.
Knowing this in advance, I decided to take the invitation by their importer Philippe Dandurand wines to taste 10 wines from this mythical domaine. The tasting was lead by Luca Martini, brand ambassador of Fontanafredda and best world sommelier in 2013. Here are the wines that caught my attention:
Vigna la Rosa 1999. SAQ # 13486783. $150 ( Special arrival to the SAQ, Limited quantities)
Textbook mature nebbiolo nose. Cocoa with macerated prunes in alcohol, cigar tobacco and cherry as well. Elegant with mature tannins. Classy and very chic. A finale that grips you away.
Vigna La Rosa 1997. SAQ # 13486732. $143.50 ( Special arrival to the SAQ. Limited quantities)
Gamey nuances with dry black fruit and morels. Also star anise with kentucky tobacco and dattes, Full body, very complex with nuances of leather, cedar wood. Long with ripe fine tannins.
La Rosa Barolo 2011. SAQ # 11701689. $75 ( Available December 2017). Lovely hedonistic nose. Different layers of redcurrant fruit. Confit, Jammy and ripe. Modern, with a creamy texture. Rich but balanced with a good acidity. Racy with a long length and muscular tannins.
Serralunga D’Alba Barolo DOCG 2012. SAQ # 12578248. $44.75 Red prunes, plums, flowers such as violets, wild roses with a delicate nuance of red orange peel. Very elegant, silky with firm tannins and incredible length.
Barolo DOCG 2013. SAQ # 20214. $28.55. Earthy with aromas of wet earth, animal nuances. dark fruits in sauce, licorice. Very long and elegant with aromas of tobacco, black cumin seeds, tar with graceful tannins
For information of the FontanaFredda wines, please contact Carl Caldareri from Philippe Dandurand Wines ( firstname.lastname@example.org, 514-932-2626)
Brasato al Barolo
Once you get a hand with the Barolos of Fontanafredda, what better way to make them shine with a dish of Brasato al Barolo. Basically, this is a piece of beef that braises in the oven for hours, slowly simmering in red wine, and emanates a singular smell. Once you make this dish, It will transform your house into a Piedmontese kitchen.Brasato is an Italian word coming from brace, meaning “hot coals”.In the old days a heavy pot was covered in hot coals where the meat would simmer for hours, with more embers placed on the top of the lid. What gives brasato its fantastic taste and softness are two key things in the roast: fat and sinew (connective tissue). When these parts of the roast are heated to 150° they begin to melt, losing their toughness and mix into the muscle fibers, creating a rich texture and delicious earthy flavor, a process that cannot be replicated using the dry heat from the oven. The red wine performs helps in two ways: it acts as a tenderizer and adds a layer of flavor. The recipe calls for Barolo. However, any nebbiolo-based wine will produce satisfactory results, such as Barbaresco or a langhe wine. For this dish preparation, I recommend using the Eremo Langhe Rosso from Fontanafredda as well ( SAQ # 10399078, $18.95), a fantastic Barbera-Nebbiolo blend with dry petal roses, charming red fruits and caraway seeds. On the mouth, polished with fleshy tannins and a finale that brings to mind strawberry jam and balsamic notes.
If you want to make the dish, here is a recipe that I have been using for some time from the site Giallo Zafferano ( http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Brasato-al-Barolo.html). It is in the italian, and they show step by step with videos and pictures on how to make this dish.