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Over the past few years, Lorenzo Accomasso has emerged as the Jacky Truchot of Barolo. He's been around forever, working in solitude, seldom exporting. And he's the soul of traditionalism.
As with Truchot, word finally spread, and a long line of traditional Barolo lovers has formed, each hoping to buy even a bottle or two of his wines. But since he refuses to export (except to one old customer in Japan), the only way to get his wine is to be a regular visitor or be lucky enough to know one of his regular local clients. We've done both. As a result, The Rare Wine Co. is easily the dominant source for Accomasso Barolos in the United States.
The buzz today about Lorenzo Accomasso reminds us a lot of the awakening, a decade or so ago, to the genius of such great French artisans as Noël Verset, Marius Gentaz and Edmond Vatan. Like Accomasso, these giants somehow managed to create masterpieces for decades before they were popularly discovered.
Whether Accomasso ever will, or even can, become truly well-known is a subject for debate. He hasn’t exported to the US since the 1980s, and he prefers to sell his wine a few bottles at a time from his cellar door.
But anyone who’s tasted any of his Barolos knows they’re the real deal. They’re some of the most magical Nebbiolos made. And for lovers of traditional Barolo who have never experienced them, this offer will add a new dimension to your appreciation and enjoyment of Italy’s greatest wine, Barolo.
Incredibly, Lorenzo Accomasso started making wine at about the same time as Marius Gentaz, in the early 1950s, and very nearly back to the days when Bartolo Mascarello and Bruno Giacosa were apprenticing in their family cantine after World War II.
And so, in the Langhe, perhaps only Giacosa’s longevity as a winemaker has so far trumped Accomasso’s. And as a vineyardist, perhaps only Noël Verset’s 75 years.
When interviewed for the short film Barolism, Accomasso said: “I dedicated my life to this. If I were born again ten more times I would still do it.” Today, deeply rooted in the traditional farming and winemaking of his ancestors, he continues to live and work as he did when he began in the early 1950s.
Accomasso’s low profile is in large part due to the sheer scarcity of his wines. He’s never had more than three hectares under vine, and with the recent ripping up of his Rocche plot, there is now even less.
As he only bottles what meets his rigorous standards, this has typically meant less than 1000 cases annually in total, not just of Barolo, but Barbera and Dolcetto as well. And the ultra-traditional long aging in botti and demijohn for his Barolo makes 2012 the most recent vintage available, at a time when the current release for most producers is 2015.
“I have never changed anything” is how Lorenzo summed up his methods to Levi Dalton. He continues to ferment and macerate his Barolo in concrete tank for 50-60 days, punching down the cap by hand, and then aging in old 50-hectoliter botti.
The one big change came in the great 1958 vintage, when he became the first member of his family to bottle his own wine for sale. Previously, the wine was only sold for blending and bottling by other producers.
A Link to the Past
Accomasso’s life reminds us in many ways of the late Noël Verset’s. While now a Cornas icon, Verset spent the majority of his 75 vintages in obscurity, eking out a living through backbreaking work, all for the love of the land and its pure expression through traditional winemaking.
Like Verset, Accomasso has known no other life, and much of it has been difficult. Lorenzo represents the end of an era, only now receiving reasonable compensation for the incredibly hard work that once simply meant survival.
He’s always followed his own path, keeping to a philosophy of “do what you want, without looking around at the others.” With no heirs to carry on his work, it’s uncertain how many more vintages of his sublime Barolos there will be.
Yet, Accomasso continues, renewed by his love for the magical place where he lives and works: “Whenever I feel a bit melancholic, I go and spend time with my true love: the Rochette vineyard. I sit under the oak tree. I look out over Langa and its beautiful vineyards. And after a while I go back home and I am a different person.”
Let us know if you'd like a few bottles of the 2011 Barolo Riserva. But please hurry.
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