If you loved their Dogliani, wait until you taste their Barolo.
Barolo from Chionetti? You heard us.
Chionetti is one of the great names of Piedmont, but, as we’ve written many times over the years, they’re famous for the Dolcetto they grow in Dogliani. In fact, we’ve recently shared both a stunning library 2014 and their beautiful newly-released 2021s, which prove the reputation is justified.
But the Chionetti family wasn’t satisfied being mere masters of Dolcetto and leaders of Dogliani. They wanted to get the chance to work their magic with Nebbiolo from very top terroir; to show that they can make Barolos that are every bit as delicious, terroir expressive, and long lived as their Dolcettos.
And that’s what they’ve done. We tasted the newly released 2019s and were blown away. They were true Barolos. They aren’t weighty, but they are powerful and complex. They are joyous wines, young as they are; but they have the classic flavors and aromas, the depth and acidity and tannin, that suggest they’ll age and evolve beautifully for at least a decade. In short, they land like great Barolo made by a family with Dolcetto in the veins.
We needed to know how this project came to be and were lucky enough to exchange a few emails with Nicola Chionetti, grandson of the great Quinto Chionetti of Dogliani. Nicola shared with us in a heartfelt note that his great-grandfather’s dream, and eventual legacy, was to elevate Dogliani to greatness. But his late father, Andrea, saw the creation of Chionetti Baroli as the next step in the evolution of this remarkable family history. Andrea’s dream was to bring three great Barolo crus into the family holdings.
But not just any Barolo. “Andrea held a vision of making a Barolo that embodied our family style,” Nicola wrote. Tragically, Andrea died too young to see this vision through, and his father Quinto feared the considerable strain and risk of such an investment.
So when Nicola came on board, with his mother Maria’s encouragement, he set about purchasing the family’s first-ever Barolo vineyard. That he was able to acquire the Pianpolvere vineyard was, he says, a matter of fate—that vineyard was a part of Andrea’s original vision. “Eventually, even my grandfather was happy upon learning that the vineyard was indeed Pianpolvere,” he recalled to us. “I can say he felt moved remembering Andrea.”
With this auspicious start, Nicola and the Chionetti estate have acquired two additional vineyards: Parussi in Castiglione Falletto in 2016, and Roncaglie in La Morra in 2017.
Their approach of offering single-vineyard Barolo in a trio parallels the single-vineyard Dolcetto wines I featured in my recent offer—and the wines are just as expressive and distinct. Learning how important these Barolo wines have been to the realization of the Chionetti family vision, and understanding the direct line from their Dolcetto style to their Barolos, just made us want to share them with you all the more.
Tasting notes from Antonio Galloni, along with staff notes from our recent tasting, are included below.
Chionetti, Barolo Roncaglie, 2019 $119.99
This has a beautiful nose with notes of orange peel and tea – notes that come back on the finish in an elegant way, like the final couplet of a sonnet calling back to an earlier theme. Galloni wrote that “The 2019 Barolo Roncaglie is an attractive mid-weight wine. Sweet red cherry, mint, pipe tobacco, cedar and dried flowers suggest a Barolo that is maturing and best enjoyed over the next handful of years.” Mid-weight we get (the wine isn’t ponderous) but we do think it has both the tannic structure to age as well as the concentration of delicious fruit to make it worth aging.
Chionetti, Barolo Parussi, 2019 $129.99
Galloni wrote: “The 2019 Barolo Parussi is redolent of sweet, dried cherry, tobacco, dried flowers and incense. Bright acids lend energy, but the forward flavor profile makes me think this is a near to medium-term proposition.“ We certainly don’t disagree with Galloni’s description of the flavors and aromas of the Parussi. And we don’t even disagree that this will be a delicious wine in the medium term. It’s just that, as “forward” as it was, the wine seemed to us to be built to last for years, with an escher-like structure that is fascinating now and very promising for future development.
Chionetti, Barolo Bussia Vigna Pianpolvere, 2019 $149.99
This was the wildest but also the most elegant of the Barolos, with sandalwood, cherry fruit and tar and just a small complement floral or herbaceous undertones. Dusty tannins, but somehow still refined. Galloni wrote, “The 2019 Bussia Vigna Pianpolvere is an attractive mid-weight offering from Chionetti. Dark cherry, tobacco, spice, leather and menthol open nicely in the glass. Like all the 2019 Barolos here, the Pianpolvere is on the lighter side, but it also has just enough depth to suggest another 10-12 years of fine drinking are in the cards.”
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