Davide Fregonese, Piedmont

A new star in Barolo: the superlative Serralunga wines of Davide Fregonese

When we visited Barolo last year something strange and quite wonderful thing happened. We met up with Davide Rosso of the now hugely prestigious Giovanni Rosso winery in Serralunga d’Alba and on this memorable visit he took us to one side and let us try something very special he was working on with a friend.  The friend was Davide Fregonese and the wines were 2 micro cuvees they were working on together Barolo Cerretta and Barolo Prapò. Brunswick have followed the progress of the wines from cask to bottle over the last 12 months, re-tasting and monitoring several times in between. We revisited the winery recently and are really excited to offer the wines of a brand new high-end producer with 2 fabulous terroirs in mighty Serralunga. One of these – Cerreta – is situated right next door to the giddily-priced plot of Giacomo Conterno, and the other – Prapò – may, if anything, actually offer even more thrills.

Davide Fregonese a native of Turin shares a love of Barolo as do we at Brunswick. With him, not surprisingly, it is a more spiritual connection to his local wine region and a highly successful business career has allowed him to follow the dream. After searching for the right vineyard sites for 10 years with help from his friend Davide Rosso he was finally able to substitute risk management for the ultimate risk – owning and working vines.  Davide R is his Davide F’s great mentor and together in the last 4 or 5 years they have developed 2 very small (0.6 and 0.5 hectare) plots of something quite special. Davide R who also farms the sought-after Cerretta, knows it intimately and has managed to obtain a choice portion of it at around 370m altitude, never mind getting the best out of it in the winery, for his friend Fregonese.  The vineyard is on classically poor soil requiring the roots to dig deep for nutrients and the wine shows great depth of darker berry fruit and no little mineral complexity. Fregonese’s tiny plot is practically a stone’s throw away, from Roberto Conterno’s 3 hectare holding, another to see this vineyard as a prized addition to his Serralunga holdings. Prapò sits, if anything, on an even finer terroir based on calcaire soil.  It produces a beautiful, ethereal counterpoint to the darker fruited Cerretta. Fregonese’s plot is south facing and produces a combination of generous yet ultra-pure red fruit, dried flowers and the sense of fresh rose petals in water.  The perfume of this wine is sublime and its finesse on the palate laudable.

We feel indebted to Davide Rosso for sharing this ‘secret project’ on our visit. It is clear that the two Davides, between them, have fashioned a remarkable entry in to the top league of Barolo producers, in one of its greatest heartlands, bursting onto the scene with the wine equivalent of the ‘great debut album’.  Revisited this April and tasting through casks of 2015 and 2016 vintages, we have little doubt this is a winery to follow. The highest quality imaginable is also to be found across these succeeding years.  The wines straddle a divide between traditional and polished, seeing only large 15 /25hl Garebellotto botti, with the gentlest handling in the winery ensuring fruit quality with a sheen of luxury. The generous, complex fruit is backed up with supremely balanced tannins and a subtle mineral tension from both sites.  We think the wines of Fregonese may be the next big thing among high-end Serralunga producers.

2014 Davide Fregonese, Barolo Cerretta
GBP 384 per case in bond (6*75cl)
Limpid look but the classic pale red garnet colour of old school Barolo. Clean and pure nose very light feminine perfumed red fruit – pure and pretty – strawberry with some darker berries, brambles and notes of fine tea leaves. The palate shows a fine elegance and lovely tang to it  some limestone but darker soils bring to it the riper generous darker fruit characters of the nose. Good depth of fruit with the ripe strawberry winning through as it opens and good freshness and light feeling alcohol.  This is refreshing and the tannins build slowly – but a great success from the off – a hugely promising blend of fleshy, succulent fruit with long term terroir capabilities waiting to come to the fore. The inaugural Cerretta has a long future ahead of it.
95+ points, Brunswick FW&S

2014 Davide Fregonese, Barolo Prapò
GBP 384 per case in bond (6*75cl)
Medium red – still light and transparent colour with glycerol and texture clearly evident. Brilliant nose of dried flowers and the scent of fresh rose petals in cool water – a totally convincing nose that centres on freshness and transporting lift. The fruit is in the red cherry and raspberry spectrum but the sense of brightness is palpable. On the palate there is excellent depth of fruit yet the elegance that nose promises is clearly evident. There is a wow factor to these wines so that the Prapò reveals an expressive red fruit palate of great purity, the stunning perfume follows on from the nose with a Darjeeling tea note and there is an undeniable, underlying pulsing limestone quality driving through the wine. Fine, fine tannins and fine, fine wine showing great energy and the alluring salinity of its terroir. The Prapo is decidedly different to the Cerretta – ultimately it is a matter of terroir – Clos de la Roche v Clos St Denis – Cerretta v Prapo – hard to pick a winner!
96 points, Brunswick FW&S   

Offered subject to remaining unsold and final confirmation