You Heard It On The Grapevine…
Barolo Bussia: in Praise of Balance!
The Bussia vineyard district, located mostly in the township of Monforte d’Alba, is arguably one of the five greatest sites in all of Barolo, and its wines have long enjoyed a lofty reputation. However, not all is fine and dandy with this hallowed vineyard district, and speaking about its merits and characteristics is both easy and difficult at the same time.
Easy? Yes, because Bussia’s greatness cannot be denied: it was the first ever Barolo cru to be vinified as a single-district wine. (Barolo crus are too vast to be considered single vineyard areas, but are rather series of vineyard plots belonging to one district, officially been defined as Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive or MGA for short.) It was Beppe Colla, then working at the Prunotto estate, who placed the name ‘Bussia’ on his 1961 Barolo. Prior to that time, the tradition in Barolo had been to blend grapes from many different townships in order to make the best possible wine each year. The fact that Beppe Colla (one of the greatest experts of Langhe vineyards and one of its best winemakers) chose the grapes from this specific vineyard to be his first ever cru-designate wine speaks volumes about the high esteem in which he (and everyone else) has always held Bussia.
Colla proceeded to use the name Bussia at a time when practically nobody else was thinking of doing so because he was convinced his wine that year would be better than the ‘traditional’ blend. His decision was certainly an indicator of the greatness of this cru, but there are other indicators too, not least the many magnificent wines made over the years by Aldo Conterno and his family – Barolos labelled not just as Bussia but from specific sites such as Colonnello, Cicala and the particularly magnificent Romirasco. Read more >>
Michele Longo is a Certified Sommelier and teacher. He writes for Barolo & Co magazine and is co-curator (with Ian d’Agata) of the Italy Section of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. Michele’s latest book (also with Ian D’Agata) is Barbaresco and Barolo: Listening to Nebbiolo and its Langhe Terroirs is published later this year.
Geography: Located in the northwest corner of Italy, Piedmont borders west with France. It is surrounded by large Alpine masses (north and west) and the Apennines (south) that influence the typically continental climate, characterized by wide thermal excursions between day and night, relatively cold and damp winters, and hot, humid summers.
Grape varieties: Red: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, Brachetto and Grignolino. White: Moscato, Cortese, Arneis, Erbaluce and Timorasso
Viticulture: With over 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) under production, 17 DOCGs and 42 DOCs, Piedmont is the region with Italy’s greatest number of vineyard designations – its wiens significant on both the local and international markets. The vineyards are mostly red grapes, with some noteworthy native and international white grapes grown as well. Read more >>