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Barbaresco from The Mad One, Fabio Gea

By Greg Rubin

April 24, 2018

By Greg Rubin

April 24, 2018
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." 
- Jack Kerouac, possibly talking about Fabio Gea

Fabio is a young winemaker whose grandfather bequeathed him a few tiny plots around the Bricco in Barbaresco.  When we say small, we mean small.  His few rows of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Grignolino amount to less than one hectare.  To put that in perspective, if you put all of his land together it wouldn't even cover the field in Yankee Stadium.  He makes such little wine he is able to hand number each bottle with a pen.  His wines are so unknown that Googling one returns almost no results about the wine.

Everything about Fabio's wines is unique.  The first thing you'll notice are the bottles themselves.  His Barbaresco bottlings are labeled with hand-pressed pulp paper.  Another has no label affixed (seriously).  Another is a bottled so oddly shaped you'd think it was unearthed from an ancient tomb or it was hand blown by an ogre on acid.  

But what's in the bottle is far, far, more interesting.  Fabio's wines are gorgeous, clean and natural, with plenty of muscle and finesse.  All of the farming is done by hand, a necessity for wines that display their place in the glass.  In the cellar Fabio uses a mix of older large barrels (500L), glass, and steel.  And he has been experimenting more and more with the "toilets" as he calls them - porcelain amphora that he has designed and created himself.  His Barbaresco barrels are not toasted like 99.9% of all barrels.  Instead, Fabio "vaporizes" the wood oils and sugars by applying dangerously hot volcanic stones to the interior.  Image a sauna turned up another 1,000 degrees.  Yet another innovation from a crazy man.

Fabio is a man content with the way he does things, unabashed by what's popular amongst his contemporaries or what consumers think should be coming out of Barbaresco.  We think Gea and Kerouac would get along. He never makes a commonplace wine and never yawns.  As a result the wines are singular, complex, and frankly just damn delicious.  

2015 Langhe Rosso "Cul Otte" - $52 / btl 

100% Nebbiolo (as far as we know).  Gorgeous fruit - clean, deep, elegant, and earthy.  A can't miss wine.


2015 Gringolino - OUT OF STOCK

100% Grignolino.  Bottled as "Back Grin".  We think it's a late night drunken joke based on Fabio's logo.

2015 Mushroom Panda - OUT OF STOCK

Nebbiolo and Dolcetto.  We have no idea what the hell Mushroom Panda is but we love this wine.

2015 Dolcetto di Alba Superiore Pino - OUT OF STOCK

100% Dolcetto.  Not shown above so here's a nice shot of it.  The importer Louis/Dressner got some additional info out of Fabio: The Dolcetto is from “a 25 year old vineyard with a “royal” Sud-West exposure (typically SW exposure produces the best Barbaresco vineyards), with the traditional familiar architecture of plantation: 2 near vines every three meters hand-destemmed, and one year in the porcelain 'toilets'. 

2011 Barbaresco "Notu seguvia le gocce d'acqua" - OUT OF STOCK  

This Barbaresco spends 48 months in the most unique oak barrels out there. Rather than roasting the insides of the staves Fabio exposes the oak to hot volcanic rocks (imagine a sauna) that vaporizes the staves and alters starches and tannins in similar but different ways to pure fire. This process provides a unique influence on the barrels. After barrel the wines spend 6 months in porcelain urns that Fabio designed himself and then bottled unfined, unfiltered. Only 1,173 bottles produced.

2012 Barbaresco "Notu seguvia le gocce d'acqua" - OUT OF STOCK 

100% Nebbiolo.  Notu was his grandfather's name and so the name of the wine is "Notu followed the drops of water".  Just as drops of water are clean and clear, this wine shows off the brightness and crunchy structure that gorgeous Barbaresco has to offer.  The wine spends 48 months in the volcanically vaporized barrels we mentioned earlier.  Perhaps this treatment is what makes this wine so clear and clean.


~ Photo courtesy of The Ten Bells ~ 

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