MONTECRISTO

Batasiolo

With 140 hectares of vineyards scattered over four of the most prestigious hills of Barolo, Batasiolo is a considerable producer in Langhe. Located in Northwestern Italy, just a two hours’ drive from Milan, Langhe is a winemaking sub-region situated in the larger area of Piedmont; within Langhe is Barolo, and within Barolo is Batasiolo.

While they had been winegrowers since the late 1800s, the Dogliani family didn’t establish Batasiolo until 1978. Due to depressed land prices at that time, they were able to expand their vineyards in the most revered Piedmont communes: Barolo, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, and Serralunga d’Alba. That expansion proved wise; just a few years later, Barolo would see a renaissance.

Despite being home to many outstanding winemaking regions, Piedmont’s majestic Barolo vintages (created from the nebbiolo grape) are its most respected. Still, while they boast historical importance among the area’s royalty (they were once referred to as the wine of kings, the king of wines), they were in relative obscurity until the last few decades.

Barolo gained international attention in the mid-1980s when a small group of intrepid individuals from poor family wineries formed a gang called the Barolo Boys and started producing modern wines that were less rustic than their predecessors. The group travelled to the United States, educating oenophiles about their little-known region and conquering western palates (there was even a movie, 2014’s Barolo Boys: The Story of a Revolution, based on their exploits). Ultimately, Barolos became some of the most sought-after wines in the world.

Although he wasn’t a Barolo Boy, Batasiolo’s president and general manager Fiorenzo Dogliani has been coming to North America, specifically Vancouver, for decades. Upon arrival in those early years, Dogliani would seek out the city’s best Italian restaurants (Il Giardino, Al Porto, and Piccolo Mondo, then Quattro and Cioppino’s) and pour his wines for the owners.

“The first dinner was at the Hotel Vancouver—the chef at that time was Italian,” Dogliani shares over an intimate dinner at Giardino Restaurant (the second iteration of Umberto Menghi’s now-closed Il Giardino). “Then each year, for 15 years, we had a truffle dinner in November at different restaurants here and in Whistler.”

Stepping in on his night off, Menghi pulls up a chair to join his friend for a glass of Barolo. Reminiscing, Menghi says, “The white truffles he was bringing, I swear… It was a huge basket of truffles. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

While the Barolos are Batasiolo’s flagship wines, the family makes a dizzying assortment of others from around Piedmont. One of the best Langhe values in the Vancouver market is the perpetual consumer favourite Batasiolo Barbera d’Alba. Made from barbera grapes, this juicy and youthful 2015 red is perfect with simple Italian cuisine. Additionally, the Barolo Riserva 2007 is a symphony of cherry and rose petal aromas; a bright and silky palate rounds it all out.

Dogliani’s visits to Vancouver are less frequent these days, but he delights in them, and when prompted to comment on what he thinks of the city now, his smile broadens. “Oh, mamma mia, I’ve seen so many changes,” he says. “Vancouver was a very small city then.” And just like Vancouver, Batasiolo has grown, too.


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