Single vineyard vs Blended wines in Barolo
Most of Barolo’s top wines these days are made from single vineyards. We love this micro-terroir focus, but it is actually a fairly modern trend. Traditional Barolo is a blend from a number of different vineyard sites—each contributing different elements—to make sure that the final wine has a “completeness” to it.
Of today’s top Barolos, only Bartolo Mascarello is still made in this way. The result is that many wine drinkers, even some Barolo lovers, think of the term “normale,” often used to refer to a winery’s non-vineyard-designate Barolo, as almost a pejorative.
But in the case of many of our favorite producers, like Brovia, the normale is anything but ordinary!
About Barolo’s Brovia
Brovia, in the village of Castiglione Falletto, is on a roll. They have been improving for many vintages now, and the winery is near the top of just about everyone’s list of favorite Barolo producers.
Stylistically, they occupy a very important place in the spectrum. Working with clean, organic fruit and shorter macerations, the wines are hardly the brooding beasts that were common in the big vintages of old. But they are still firmly structured wines that lack the softness or oakiness of many modern examples.
Simply put, the winery takes a middle approach, one that emphasizes class and purity: purity of fruit, purity of terroir. The wines do not require excessive cellaring before becoming delicious, but also give us every reason to expect that they will last for a very long time.
Brovia’s 2012 Barolos: anything but normale, top to bottom
Brovia’s top wines are all single crus, in the new tradition. But we have a soft spot for their “normale,” which blends wines from the different crus, Mascarello-style. It’s almost like they’re taking a middle approach on the question of blending vs microterroirs: the best of both worlds.
Now, it’s true that most of the grapes in Brovia’s “normale” come from the crus’ younger vines, but a substantial amount of old-vines juice also typically makes it into the blend for a simple logistical reason. To make each single-vineyard wine they fill a giant cask from the cru. But those giant casks aren’t quite giant enough, and whatever doesn’t fit into the single-vineyard cask goes into the normale!
So it’s not so “normale” at all. In fact, it’s consistently a delicious Barolo, year after year. It’s pretty tasty on the young side, especially in a fresh and charming vintage like 2012, a vintage that’s shaping up to be our favorite non-famous vintage since 2008! It also ages well. A bottle of that ’08 normale was just great when we opened it recently.
Pricing is very reasonable for the quality, at $46.99, and you can take 10% off in a mixed case discount.
You can buy it here.