2006 Renato Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba DOC “Elena”

Mission Codename: The Youngest Daughter

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure an exclusive allocation of a classic Piedmont Barbera d’Alba for our operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Renato Fenocchio

Wine Subject: 2006 Barbera d’Alba DOC “Elena”

Winemaker: Renato Fenocchio

BackgrounderBarbera, the third most planted varietal (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano) in Italy finds its most classic expression in the Piedmont and specifically in Asti and the much smaller Alba region. The best of Barbera is, like this wine, the Barbera d’Alba which can match any Barolo or Barbaresco in terms of overall quality. Barbera d’Alba is characteristically rich and full of flavor and makes up just a small percentage of the total production of the region.The finest Barbera is grown in specific single vineyard crus surrounding those communes. Italian Barbera comes in two basic forms, the tradizione, a more rustic old-world style and newer more fruit forward styles similar to the Barbera that is grown in California. Sadly, Barbera is often passed up as a lesser varietal but when done well, these wines show their classic Italian heritage and character.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark garnet purple with a dense and core that’s clear but extra dark. Along the edges the color lightens only slightly to show garnet tints. When swirled, this wine leaves randomly spaced fat legs along the side of the glass that descend to the wine below at varying speeds.

Smell – Bold, rich and redolent with the ripe and tart red cherry along with other red berries leading the way and inviting you in. Upon further exploration the cherry becomes slightly more tart and is surrounded by soft earthy undertones with toasted vanilla oak and a subtle nuttiness along with anise, green herbs and mocha as well.

Feel – Rich and warm, this dry and full-bodied wine initially glides over the palate with its well developed but sturdy tannins. Amble acidity and a touch of minerality sharpens the feel along the edge of the tongue and frames the rich, ripe fruit long into the finish.

Taste – Ripe and tart red cherry flavors are framed by toasted vanilla oak and wild anise. Soft earthiness, cedar cigar box, green herbs and toasted nuts also emerge along with a little exotic spice and dark cocoa.

Finish – Long and rich, the ripe and tart cherry lingers long providing a warm expansive feel as the other complex flavors of green herbs, its earthy and toasted notes and spice lasting and lasting.

Conclusion – The 2006 Renato Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba DOC “Elena” is a delicious a classic Barbera that has truly benefited by its time in the bottle. Well developed and rich flavors along with a warm and generous mouthfeel makes this wine great for richer pasta and roasted meat dishes. Enjoy this wine tonight after decanting or cellar for three to five years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Renato Fenocchio

WINE EDUCATION: The history of our wines begins early in the XIX century, when the family Fenocchio moved from Monforte d’Alba to Barbaresco. Here, my great-grandparents worked in a dairy-farm, attending to the growing and cultivation of numerous products, such as vines, hazelnuts and cereals.

I soon began helping my parents at home and in their vineyard, and, then, I started working in one of the most important cellars in Barbaresco, Marchesi di Gresy.

These are the first steps towards a lifetime spent making wine.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: As a farmer, year after year I obtain my harvest directly from Nature itself, by adding care, constancy and all my passion. The wines and the extra virgin olive oil I produce are the result of careful and steady handwork, coming from traditional wisdom with the help of modern technologies for caring the environment.


AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Renato. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Barbera d’Alba “Elena” today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

RENATO: Ciao. I’m pleased to share my wine with you.

WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

RENATO: I was about 5 years old when I started accompanying my Nonno (grandfather) to his vineyards. I literally grew up with grape-growing and winemaking.

WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

RENATO: My father and my uncle.

WHITE: Who do you make wine for?

RENATO: I am lucky since I do “the nicest work in the World” in a wonderful place and my aim is to do all my best for leaving it the most undamaged I can to my daughters.

WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

RENATO: Today’s wine is Barbera d’ Alba “Elena.” It is named for my youngest daughter. The vineyard of Barbera is in the borough of Neive, on the hill named “Starderi,” exposed to South-West. This is a big and rich Barbera with luscious berry fruit and hints of mocca and leather. Beautifully balanced, it shows vibrant acid and and ripe round tannin.

WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

RENATO: Friends. And to eat, my wife’s Ravioli al Plin.

WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Piedmont (and the Langhe Hills in particular) so special?

RENATO: The vineyards are found in the hills of Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso, and have excellent exposure on the gentle hills of “Langhe” at varying altitudes -from 240 to 350 meters above the sea level. The extremely diverse soils give each vineyard a distinct character. They range from calcarious-clayey soils with sandy emergences in Barbaresco and Treiso to argillous-calcarious sedimentary ground with grey-blue sandstones in Neive.

As a result of the various soil types and growing conditions the grapes produced in our vineyards are extremely different. The vines of each microclimate produces a fruit with a perfume, colour and flavour so unique and distinguishable that wine produced from each vineyard is perfectly recognizable. Our vines are a confirmation of the importance of “Terroir” when choosing a quality wine.

WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

RENATO: It is springtime here in Barbaresco, so there is so much work to do in the vineyards. From shoot and cane thinning to leaf plucking and trellising, it is one of the busiest times of the year for us. Between now and the harvest, every single one of our 50,000 vines will be touched by our hands a dozen times.

WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

RENATO: With pleasure. Wine is meant to be shared around a table with family, old friends and soon-to-be friends.

WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

RENATO: We are proud of our work as farmers and try and capture that effort in the bottle. Sometimes we succeed. The special feature of Fenocchio’s work is the complete dedication to nature that comes through on the purity of flavour and the finesse of a long palate. ~ Graham Chidgey

WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of Renato Fenocchio can be seen in this satellite photo.

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