ESTATE BAROLO AT COOPERATIVE PRICES
BY MATTHEW BROWMAN
Mark your calendar: February 10 – 14 (Calgary and Edmonton ½+½)
Great Barolo isn’t know for its price-friendliness. If you love a story and the wine that goes with it, you can still get estate Barolo at cooperative prices. How? Buy the estate wine of a family who used to sell their grapes to a coop.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Ellena Giuseppe is an individual lady who heads a Piemontese winery under her own name. (I had to forgive myself when I first came across them.) But Ellena is the family name. Francesco, Giuseppe, and Matteo are the grandfather, father, and son who turned the venture from grape farm to estate winery.
It started with some grapes and a dream
The same year Barolo earned DOC status (1966), Francesco Ellena and his brother Giovanni bought 15 hectares of land in La Morra. Their plan was to dedicate their lives to grape farming in this Barolo commune. With five of those hectares planted to grapes and eight to hazelnut trees, the rest remains woodland. Now, if you’ve been to Barolo, you know that 15 hectares might feel like a lot. But La Morra has the vastest swaths of vineyard land in Barolo by far. Indeed, it produces a full third of all wine labelled as Barolo. You might also know that hazelnut trees occupy large areas of land at the bottoms of the slopes the vines grow on. Much of their bounty ends up in that ubiquitous holiday-time bonbon, Ferrero Rocher.
Small-farm quality 50 years in the making
Since the 60s, the Ellenas grew their grapes to sell to the local cooperative but in their hearts, dreamed of making their own wine. So, in 2009 after restoring the barrel cellar, they realized their dream and the winery Ellena Giuseppe produced its first vintage. Young Matteo heads up the winemaking, having apprenticed at Elio Altare and Giacomo Bologna (of Braida). He blends the best of the respective traditional and modern influences he learned at these Piemontese masters yet tends to the traditional side. With an organic estate and low-impact farming practices, he wants the wine to express the land it grows in over the way he handles it.
Barolo for all and all for Barolo
The 93-point Barolo 2015 hits the shelf at $52 suggested retail, and the 90-point Barbera d’Asti at $39. As you can imagine, Matteo tells the story much better than we do. In February, he is visiting Calgary on the 10 and 11 and Edmonton on the 12 and 13 to taste a range of his wines. We’ll send details on tasting events and dinners. And we’ll reach out to book a visit to taste.
A few ratings
- 2016 Barbera d’Alba 90 points Wine Spectator
- 2015 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Alferi 90 points James Suckling
- 2015 Barolo de La Morra 93 points James Suckling
- 2017 Langhe Nebbiolo 88 points Wine Spectator