PIEDMONT - ITALY
The Germano family has owned 6 hectares of land on the hill called Cerretta, near Serralunga d’Alba, in the heart of the Barolo area, since 1856. Great-grandfather Francesco, and thereafter grandfather Alberto, cultivated vines, producing a little wine but selling most of the grapes, as was the custom. Ettore, the son of Alberto, continued his father’s work, also becoming skilled at grapevine grafting, and in the 1950s he started to replant the vineyards. He used vines that he himself propagated using ‘massal selection,’ with a vine density of at least four thousand vines per hectare, of the varieties typical in this region: Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo. In 1964 Ettore married Rosanna, and they continued to work the vineyards, buying additional neighbouring parcels of land.
In 1985 Ettore and Rosanna’s son Sergio finished enology school at Alba and started to work with his family, starting to bottle small amounts of wine in addition to the wine sold in bulk to friends and private customers, and continuing to sell some of the grapes.
Fast forward to today, Sergio has developed into one of the most talented winemakers in Piedmont. Having all of his red vineyards situated within Serralunga, enables Sergio to make characteristically powerful, muscular and intense wines, that are the biggest, richest and most long-lived of all Barolo. Using what may appear to be very modern techniques (stainless steel is much in evidence), the driving force behind the wine making here is actually solid tradition. Fermentation is short, around 12-15 days, in open wooden fermenters and maturation is completed in a variety of barrel sizes (225 litres and upwards) made from up to two year old French oak.
The Barolos are mineral, earthy and complex with very finely grained tannins, and depending on the vineyard size, touches of cocoa and hints of violet can also be found. The Germano family is blessed with some of the very best vineyards, owning vines in Lazzarito (a true grand cru), Cerretta, Prapò and now, thanks to an inheritance, even the legendary Vigna Rionda, which many experts consider the single greatest Barolo vineyard of all. The single vineyard Barbera “Vigna della Madre” is produced in the same way as the Barolo but inevitably has brighter, blackberry, and coffee undertones while the basic Barbera is fresh, clean and enjoyable.
Ettore Germano Barolo Serralunga 2012
17 points, Jancis Robinson MW -“Lustrous mid ruby with orange tinges. Spicy and with fine but subdued cherry fruit. Supple and ripe and with proper depth on the palate. The rich tannins are captured in the fruit. Elegant oak note on the finish.”
Ettore Germano Barolo Prapo 2011
17++ points, Jancis Robinson MW -“A shade deeper than the 2011 Serralunga with the beginning of orange tinges on the rim. Intense marasca and stones nose that pulls you right in. Real lift on the nose with top notes of spice, yet the palate is taut, compact and in need of age. A tannic structure built like a brickhouse, with the perfect dose of acidity. Austere for the moment and in need of further bottle ageing.”
Ettore Germano Barolo Riserva Lazzarito 2010
18 points, Jancis Robinson MW -“Germano only makes Lazzarito as a Riserva, hence its late release. ‘The year in which it is not good enough make a Riserva I won’t make a Lazzarito anymore.’ 55 days on the skins! Beautiful lustrous mid ruby. Spectacular nose but holding back. Elegant palate weight and supple, tannins cling to the palate streamlining the pure fruit. Minerally. Wonderful acidity and breed, but takes an hour of aeration to bring it out.”