Fontanafredda: The Beauty of Langhe Nebbiolo

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Europe, Italy | 0 comments

Giorgio Lavagna, Fontanafredda Winemaker

The history of Fontanafredda (and Langhe Nebbiolo) is a noble one and began in 1858 after the unification of Italy, when the country’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, purchased this beautiful estate in Piedmont’s Langhe region for his mistress. Quite the scandal! Here he started producing wine from local varieties, Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo, which later developed into a commercial business under the direction of the King’s son, Count Mirafiori. Fontanafredda released their first Nebbiolo labeled as Barolo with the 1878 vintage.

Since 2008, Fontanafredda has been owned by visionary businessman and Piedmont native, Oscar Farinetti (co-owner of Eataly), who has brought new life to one of Italy’s most heralded properties. They’re doing something right, as Fontanafredda was awarded European Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2017. In 2018, the Fontanafredda vines were certified organic and they are now the largest certified organic company in Piemonte. 

Fontanafredda is a 250-acre property in Serralunga d’Alba, a cru site of Barolo, the single largest contiguous wine estate in the Langhe. They also work with 400 local grower partners in sourcing grapes for their wines. Speaking of wines, let’s get to tasting these Langhe Nebbiolo wines!

I enjoyed these wines as part of a lovely luncheon at Spago Restaurant in Beverly Hills, where we tasted Fontanafredda’s current Barolo releases, as well as a selection of special library gems going back 20+ years. Enjoy!

Langhe Nebbiolo (and other) Tasting Notes

Alta Langa DOCG Contessa Rosa Rosé 2012 $57.99

Dry, delicious, and lively describes this Metodo Classico sparkling made of 80% Pinot Nero and 20% Chardonnay. What makes this special is that their 1967 Barolo is the liqueur d’éxpedition.

Alta Langa DOCG Contessa Rosa Rosé 2012

Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2015 $53.99

This was Fontanafredda’s first single-village Barolo ever produced since 1988 and this bottle (and label) is the icon of the estate. I get balsamic and meaty notes and, as expected, prevalent tannins, plus Serralunga trademarks of roses and underbrush.

Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2015

Barolo DOCG Fontanafredda 2013 $107.99

My first impression is that this is a pretty wine, but then it opens up and get sturdier on the nose. Moderate acid, lots of savory/underbrush notes on the palate, and prevalent tannins. 

Barolo DOCG Fontanafredda 2013

Barolo DOCG Vigna la Rosa 2011 $124.99

Oh my….come to momma. This wine shows Barolo typicity of tar and roses. Lovely. Reminds me of the elegance of Pino Noir, but distinctly Italian and distinctly Nebbiolo and with no Italian rusticity. 

Barolo DOCG Vigna la Rosa 2011

Barolo DOCG Vigna la Rosa 1996 (n/p)

This wine is showing graceful age, in the same way as Helen Mirren. The fruit is fading beautifully, and I’m ok with it. Quite stunning; showing both savory and tertiary notes. Beautifully subtle aromas and flavors that you’d expect for a 24-year old wine. 

Barolo DOCG Vigna la Rosa 1996

Barolo 2010 Riserva $164.99

The Riserva level gets an additional two more years of aging, while this wine is only made in the best years. The official tasting notes say “a fresh sour note”. I LOVE that descriptor. I have been using “sour” as a tasting note for a while, but I’ve never seen in print!

Barolo 2010 Riserva

Barolo 2000 Riserva (n/p)

This wine was first made in 1964 (hence the year on the label). Deep, dark fruit plus a faint florality with super, duper woody tannins.

Langhe Nebbiolo Barolo 2000 Riserva

For more great Italian content, check out my blog post on Travaglini Gattinara, also a study of Nebbiolo.

Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier based out of Los Angeles, California.

She has been producing events and weddings for over 10 years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and also offers her services as a wine educator, writer, and consultant to inspire people of all ages.

Brianne completed the entire curriculum with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and traveled to London in order to receive her Diploma certificate, which is one of the most coveted and difficult wine certifications. Most recently Brianne judged at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and the International Wine Challenge in London.

Connect with Brianne

Sample Policy

As a wine blogger, I frequently accept samples for review on the blog and on my social media channels. Please contact me at to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions. All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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