Achille Boroli surveys his vineyards from a tongue of land that juts out from the main road just south of Castiglione Falletto in Italy's Piedmont region. We're looking at La Brunella, a Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (MGA), or cru, that wraps around the winery, facing both east and west.
Falling away steeply below La Brunella to the south and west is the more famous Villero MGA, and across the valley lays Cerequio. Along with Seradenari in La Morra and parcels scattered around Castiglione Falletto for the blended Barolo, these are the 27 acres of Nebbiolo in the Boroli portfolio.
Five years ago, Boroli made the decision to eliminate the other grapes and vineyards on the Alba portion of the estate and focus entirely on Nebbiolo. His ambition is to be the best, a heady goal for a property purchased 20 years ago. "Until now, we did some very good wine, but now I want to be the best," he says.
Achille's father bought the estate in 1997 when his parents sold their publishing company. Though he has three brothers, they all have professional careers: one is a doctor, one manufactures ski and motorcycle helmets, and the architect brother designed the winery. Achille runs the business with day-to-day help from father and son Enzo and Daniele Alluvioni. He studied business, not enology, and also owns the Michelin-starred Locanda del Pilone, just outside Alba.
To improve quality, he bought a Pellenc destemmer to eliminate any of the Nebbiolo's green tannins. Boroli says it removes the stems from the berries perfectly, leaving the berries intact. Each lot is fermented separately and only the best lots go into the finished wines. No press wine is used.
The length of the maceration has increased from 12 days with a very physical extraction to 27 to 31 days (depending on the vintage) with the gentler submerged cap method. "I prefer to do a longer, softer extraction because we can get more elements from the grapes," he explains. "We get more elegance and finesse."
From the 2012 vintage, the nascent Barolos now go through the malolactic conversion in stainless steel rather than barrel to have better control over the temperature.
Boroli uses various barrels for aging the Barolos, ranging from barriques (some are bought from Château Figeac in Bordeaux) to 25-hectoliter casks, including 400-liter, 500-liter, 10- and 15-hectoliter, depending on the vintage and cru. For example, Villero sees 30 percent barriques, of which 40 percent are new. After four months, Boroli tastes each barrel and decides whether he wants to leave them longer in barrique, or rack to a larger barrel. Cerequio and Brunella see less barrique (30 percent) and less new oak (20 percent).
We tasted barrel samples of 2015 and 2014, plus bottled versions of 2013 and the current release 2012s. The 2015s are the finest of the group, and Boroli feels they're the winery's best efforts since 1997. Compared with the few pre-2012 Barolos I have had, the new style shows more fruit, finesse and balance. This is a property to watch.