Brovia

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In 1863 Giacinto Brovia founded the Brovia estate in the village of Castiglione Falletto, in the heart of the Barolo district. The family has been continually engaged in the growing of grapes and the production of wine since that time. The phylloxera plague, economic upheaval and two wars interrupted production for almost 30 years but, in 1953, two brothers, Giacinto and Raffaele, grandchildren of the founder, resumed full-scale wine production. Giacinto, a trained enologist, was (and still is) responsible for the production of the wine while Raffaele, a trained agronomist, supervised the vineyard work. Sadly, Raffaele passed away in 2011 but two of Giacinto’s daughters, Cristina and Elena, are now completely engaged as the fourth generation, in the affairs of this family-run estate. Marina, Giacinto’s wife and mother of their children, is a brilliant cook and provider of wise counsel, and Alex Sanchez, husband of Elena, has joined the family enterprise. For our part, Rosenthal Wine Merchant has worked in close collaboration with the Brovia family for several decades, having made our first purchases in the exceptional 1978 vintage.

The Brovias, from generation to generation, have been conscientious buyers of some of the finest vineyard sites in this noble zone, concentrating their efforts in their home village of Castiglione Falletto and the neighboring Serralunga d’Alba. Brovia owns land in a variety of the best “cru” of Piedmont such as Rocche, Villero and Garblét Sue, all in Castiglione Falletto, as well as Brea in Serralunga. These different vineyard plots represent a range of soil types, from heavier clay to friable limestone. The Brovias are extremely conscientious winegrowers and farm organically in every sense of that word (without being formally certified). They perform soil analyses every two years to ensure that the elements are in equilibrium; pruning is done to limit harvest levels; and grape clusters are thinned, when necessary, in the summer. Harvest is done entirely by hand and usually begins in late September with the Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera; of course, the Nebbiolo ripens later, and harvest for the various Baroli occurs normally in mid-October.

The Brovia wines are vinified in the classic style. Grapes are lightly crushed before going into the fermentation tanks. The length of the fermentation period depends on the grape variety but the Nebbiolo for various Barolo cuvées can extend as long as a month or more at temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius. The Baroli are aged for at least two years in 30 hectoliter barrels of Slavonian and French oak. The wines are then bottled without filtration and released to the market after an additional 18 to 24 months of bottle-aging. The cuvées of Dolcetto and Barbera are handled differently, with the Dolcetto being aged exclusively in stainless steel tanks and the Barbera in stainless with a portion of the Serralunga-based wine in smaller barrels (more detail is provided below)., with a portion going into French oak barrels for 9 – 10 months. The wines are bottled without filtration.

The Brovia estate encompasses 19.2 hectares with 55% of the production dedicated to Barolo, 25% in Dolcetto, 10% to Barbera and the remaining 10% produced from Arneis, Nebbiolo d’Alba and Freisa.

Brovia-Arneis-2007 Roero Arneis: The sole white wine of the estate is produced in the Roero district from an 0.80 hectare plot in Vezza d’Alba. The soil is essentially sandy in composition and sits at 340 meters altitude on south-facing slopes. The vineyard was planted in 1980. Harvest (manual) normally occurs in mid-September. The grapes are briefly macerated and the fermentation occurs at controlled temperatures (around 15 degrees Celsius) for two to three weeks. The wine rests in stainless steel until the early spring months of the following year and is usually released to the market, after several months of bottle aging, in late summer/early fall. Approximately 4500 bottles are produced annually, 3000 of which are shipped to the USA.
Brovia-Dolcetto-Vigna-Villej-2006 Dolcetto d’Alba Vignavillej: Harvested from classic clay-limestone soils from plots in Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba, some planted in 1981 and the other portion in 1993. The grapes are crushed and fermented in stainless steel at 29 degrees Celsius for a period of a week to 10 days; then aged in stainless steel for seven to nine months before the bottling (unfiltered). Approximately 10,000 bottles are produced annually, about one-quarter of which is dedicated to the US market.
Brovia-Dolcetto-Ciabot-del-Re Dolcetto d’Alba Ciabot del Re: This cuvée is from a one-hectare or so old-vines plot in Serralunga d’Alba at 350 meters altitude, some of which was planted in 1960 and another parcel planted in 1981. In contrast to the “Vignavillej”, the “Ciabot del Re” undergoes a longer fermentation (10 to 12 days) and then is aged in a mix of stainless steel and small oak (French) barrels; the wine is then assembled prior to being bottled (unfiltered) after 10 months of aging. Approximately 4000 bottles are produced but, in particularly exceptional vintages, the “Ciabot del Re” is not produced as the grapes from this parcel are used for the rather extraordinary “Dolcetto Solatio”.
Brovia-SOLATIO Dolcetto d’Alba Solatio: A wine produced only in exceptional vintages from the old-vines vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. Harvested in late September or early October for maximum ripeness, the wine ferments for 10 days to two weeks, is aged in a mix of stainless steel and smaller oak barrels and then blended (but not filtered) before bottling. This rare and compelling wine has a proven capability to age brilliantly, showing a complexity and richness that is rare in the world of Dolcetto.
Brovia-Barbera-Sori-del-Drago Barbera d’Alba Sori del Drago: This Barbera is produced from grapes harvested in the “Garblet” vineyard (also known as “Fiasco”) of Castiglione Falletto from a 0.8 hectare plot on a south-southeast facing slope at 250 meters altitude. The major part of the vineyard was planted in 1970 with a portion being replanted in 1993. The “Sori del Drago” is fermented at 28 degrees Celsius for slightly more than a week. The wine is then racked into stainless steel tank and is aged for 15 to 18 months before being bottled (unfiltered). Approximately 4500 bottles are produced annually with 2400 allocated to us for the US market.
Brovia-Brea Barbera d’Alba Brea: This is the Barbera from the Serralunga d’Alba vineyard known as “Brea” that is situated on southeast facing slopes at 350 meters altitude in clay-limestone soil. This 0.6 hectare vineyard was planted in 1975 and these old vines produce approximately 3000 bottles of wine per annum, 900 of which are dedicated to the US market. In contrast to the “Sori del Drago”, the “Brea” cuvée is aged in a combination of stainless steel and smaller French oak barrels.
BROVIA-NEBBIOLO-D'ALBA-VALMAGGIONE-2007 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggione: Produced from grapes hand-harvested from sand-infused soils in the Valmaggiore vineyard site in the village of Vezza d’Alba, just north of Alba. This is a half-hectare vineyard that faces south at 340 meters altitude. The vines were planted in 1975. This wine is not oak-aged; rather it is racked into a stainless steel vat to age for at least one year before bottling. Approximately 2500 bottles are produced of this elegant, velvety wine of medium-body and exquisite balance; half of that production is destined for the US market.
Brovia-Barolo-2006 Barolo Brovia: This cuvée is a blend of the younger vines found in the various “crus”. Since its inception, the Barolo has offered a stylish take on the Brovia approach to this appellation. There is never excess here, no attempt to showboat or to flaunt an image of power. Above all, balance is the key element in faithfully rendering a Barolo of great stature. You will find here the classic grainy tannins, the long, mineral-inflected finish, the aromas of late-summer roses and flavors of dried cherries. After a fermentation of approximately three weeks, the wine is aged for at least two years in a combination of large and medium-sized barrels of Slavonian and French origin. Annual production is in the neighborhood of 13,000 bottles of which 3000 are dedicated to the US market.
Brovia-Garblet-Sue Barolo Garblet Sue: The grapes for this formidable “cru” are from the Garblet Sué vineyard (also referred to as the “Fiasco” vineyard) in Castiglione Falletto on south/southeast slopes at an altitude of 250 meters with soil that is predominantly limestone. This is a dynamic wine filled with surprises. The Garblet Sué” is a fraternal twin to the more stern and imposing “Villero” with the classic restrained power of the best of the wines from this classic village in the heart of the Barolo zone. The site is 0.7 hectare with vines planted in 1970 and 1979. It distinguishes itself by its enormous energy, a positive and heady wine with a gorgeous interplay of black fruits and minerals. The lively presence on the palate reminds one of the remarkable ability of Nebbiolo to retain its vibrant acidity while building its sugar reserves. A favorite of ours …. 2500 bottles produced annually, half of which we import for the US market.
brovia-Rocche-2006 Barolo Rocche dei Brovia: This splendid site in Castiglione Falletto, the fabled “Rocche,” gives us a window onto the elegant, feminine side of Barolo. Always the most aromatic and sensual of the crus from Brovia, the Rocche dei Brovia carries its weight with a ballerina-like delicacy on top of tannins that are sweet and silky. A seductress that tempts you to the table with its near-athletic versatility, the Rocche is the one member of this special quartet of crus that will charm you from the outset. The unique qualities of this “cru” result from the sandy soil composition that is in stark contrast to the terrain that underlies its neighboring “crus” in Castiglione Falletto. The Brovia parcel (1.5 hectares) of this vineyard faces southeast and sits at 350 meters altitude. The vines were planted in 1966. The wine ferments for at least 3 weeks and then is racked into large oak barrels of French origin for an aging period of no less than two years before it is bottled (unfiltered). Annual production is on the order of 5500 bottles of which 1200 bottles (plus 60 magnums) are exported to the USA.
brovia-Ca-Mia-2006 Barolo Ca’Mia: We often call this cru “Il Ruffiano” for its rustic, raffish nature. This is a boisterous, friendly Barolo from the heart of Serralunga d’Alba with all that zone’s lush fruit and generous body. Here the wine thrusts us into the dense ambience of the forest: the dark berry-like fruit, the moss and underbrush, the truffles and mushrooms of the Langhe. It’s all there with bravado and confidence. Warm, rich, dense … one of our best friends at the table. This is a one-hectare vineyard planted to Nebbiolo in 1955. The exposure is southeast and the altitude is 350 meters. Like the other “cru” Barolo, the “Ca’Mia” experiences a cuvaison of at least 3 weeks before being racked into large French “botti” for two years or more of aging. Annual production is on the order of 3500 bottles of which 1200 (plus 60 magnums) are destined for distribution in the USA.
Brovia-Villero-2006 Barolo Villero: Some may argue the case but, personally, if we had to pick one of these “cru” Barolo as the “king of kings”, our vote would go the “Villero”. The package is complete: strong yet elegant, powerful but dignified, above all pure and balanced. No matter the vintage, this special site in Castiglione Falletto yields a consistently marvelous wine that will age with consummate grace. Dark and brooding in its youth, it matures into a regal wine of exceptional depth. For us it is the quintessential Barolo. This 1.5 hectare vineyard faces southwest at an altitude of 340 meters. The vines were planted in 1961. The “Villero” is aged in large French oak “botti” for at least two years after a cuvaison of three weeks or more. Approximately 5500 bottles are produced annually; 1200 bottles plus 60 magnums are bottled exclusively for us for the US market.
2014 Barolo “Unio”: Evaluating the 2014 Barolo “Unio” blind, one would be hard-pressed to declare it from anything less than a stellar vintage. Brovia’s late-round strategy of assembling one great wine paid off enormously, and the end result is not just good—it is shockingly gorgeous. The nose soars, laden with the beautiful, complex, almost philosophical spice of great Nebbiolo, and anchored by dark, savory fruits. “Unio” is a densely-boned fighter whose musculature makes up in definition what it lacks in size. The vintage’s lightness is felt not in any sense of dilution but in a sense of mesmerizing clarity—the kind of clear-eyed freshness that the heft of riper vintages sometimes masks. In the absence of excess flesh, the wine’s profound minerality is positively arresting, reading as chiseled and foundational rather than as an undertone or a grace note. Furthermore, the family’s remarkable feel for well-judged extraction is on full display here, as the tannins are as perfect as could be imagined—neither coerced past their natural potential nor buffed into insignificance. They are downright sexy tannins, in fact—the lower-lip bite at the end of a kiss that manages to be both tender and suggestive.

2014 Brovia Barolo “Unio”: Going the Distance

Great vintages are a tango. Nature leads the grower, and the dance is certainly strenuous, but she seems ultimately to want to create something beautiful. Some growing seasons, however, are 15-round boxing matches, with Nature doing her damndest to leave her much smaller opponent utterly crushed. And in 2014 in the Langhe, Mother Nature was […]

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Several Visits to the Cellar

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