2006 Ettore Germano Balau Langhe Rosso
We had taken five days, beginning in the clay soils of La Morra, moving around the steep hillside vineyards on the bowl of Barolo, when we came to Sergio Germano's place in Serralunga. If La Morra is best known for the softness of its wines, Serralunga is the opposite end of the Piedmontese spectrum. Here, Germano's steep hillsides are full of limestone and sand, helping us understand why the wines of this rising Piedmontese star are both fabulously bright, mineral and exquisitely aromatic. We had a jaw-dropping lineup of 2004 single vineyard Barolos (one of which would win Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri award), when Sergio uncorked a wine that he calls "Balau." This 2006 purple fruit beauty, was the bargain highlight of the five-day excursion.
Put your nose in the glass and you may never take it out. This brilliant Serralunga experiment is a very carefully made and planned blend. Sergio invited us to guess the ingredients. The color was deep purple. The aromas were full of ripe cassis, typical of the delicious 2006 Dolcetto (you can just smell this stuff for hours and be happy). On the palate, the upfront fruit gave way to surprising plushness, then finished with fine, bright acidity. We reminded ourselves that we were in Barolo's most structured and mineral village. We understood the front palate, even the finish, but what of the middle? Where did the plushness come from?
Sergio smiled one of those great, warm Piedmontese smiles. "A little bit of Merlot can do wonders in Serralunga. I planted a few rows of Merlot with this blend in mind. The Dolcetto is the upfront fruit. The Barbera is sweet and offers fine acidity; the Merlot gives generosity in the middle. Then," he said, shrugging his shoulders,
"it's just Serralunga on the finish."
Sergio Germano, Winemaker
Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"(65% Dolcetto, 25% Barbera and 10% Merlot) Big, bright cassis-like nose, compote-like. After 10 minutes of air, more mineral aromas with hints of dried flowers. Rich, dense purple fruit on the palate with surprising softness in the mid-palate (the Merlot). Fine, firm and persistent finish. Absolutely delicious now. Perfect with beef, stews, chicken and hard cheeses. Drink now-2012."