2017 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’Asti
In the land that makes the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings, many Barolo producers trace their lineage back through the centuries, indeed, to the time of Kings. But not Michele Chiarlo. Our story begins in 1956, when Michele asked his father Pietro if he could attend wine-making school.
That request was bold, visionary, and also scary. Pietro was not a stranger to wine or wine-making – as an adolescent, he was put to the task of washing the muslin bags used to filter Moscato in order to help support the family. So while being around wine was in Michele’s blood, it was also an existence that was traditional, and, well, poor. We think of Piedmont’s wines (Barolo in particular) as expensive, because in this day and age they generally are. But back then, they weren’t. Exports were small, the local market was small, and most children of the region were happy to get out of agriculture and make their way to the big cities.
But not Michele. As early as middle school he and some of his famous classmates, Giacomo Tachis (Sassicaia, Tignanello), Renato Ratti (Ratti Barolo) and others, desired to strike out and make wine. Pietro ended up granting his son’s request and Chiarlo’s first Barolo was produced in 1968.
While Barolo is definitely part of the Chiarlo portfolio, it was actually his strong desire to create a magnificent wine from his family’s homeland and its traditional wine, Monferrato d’Asti and Barbera, just outside of Barolo. And in 1974, he did just that. And from that time onto the current day, he continues to invest in Barbera with this – the Le Orme:
This Barbera has it all. It’s not only a crowd-pleaser, it’s also a delightful reveler and while at the same time, serious stuff. How did this come to be? Chiarlo’s vineyard land produces powerful-drinking red wine. This wine’s bright raspberry fruit, violet, Bing cherry and blackberry notes are immediate and upfront. When you open this bottle, its ready to come out and play.
And of course there’s more. Barbera, planted in the best spots (which it usually isn’t these days because Nebbiolo is a higher cash crop) is complex in its taste, offering hints of anise, leather chaps, graphite, tart cherry pie and herbs. The midpalate is bold, and the finish is long and mineral, making this is a sure-fire bet for any occasion. Still sheltering in place? Pop this for a movie night with black pepper potato chips and mascarpone dip with black truffles. More serious? Porcini risotto with roasted sea scallops (yes, Barbera works with seafood). Crazy stand-out pairing? Order Indian and cry with some curry. And no fear, you’ve got time to try all of these dishes: This drinks perfectly now, but will go for another decade in your cellar.
We’ve loved Chiarlo’s wines for over a decade. But alas, they’re almost never inexpensive. This vintage, we scored one heck of a deal. Don’t miss it!
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