When you hear the word “Barolo” what do you think of? Perhaps dusty bottles in a frigid earthen cellar, winemakers with half a century of experience under their belts, or cacophonous tannins that require years of aging before their tune is fully audible. What you likely don’t think of is a 24-year-old woman taking over her family’s Piedmont estate and, in under a decade, becoming one of the most notable producers of Barolo. Meet Giulia Negri.
Giulia was born in Palermo and raised in Rome. Before entering the world of wine, she was working toward her MBA in biology in Milan. But after taking a trip to Burgundy, and hearing that her father was considering selling off a parcel of vines on the historic family estate in Piedmont, she was inspired to switch courses. In 2010, she began her first solo project as a winemaker, working with that parcel. In 2013, she completely uprooted and moved back to Piedmont, and in 2014 she took over production of her family’s estate in addition to that of her own label.
Since then, she has consistently turned out interpretations of Nebbiolo that are both immediately drinkable and highly ageable. Her super varied terroirs, coupled with her exacting process — only hand-harvesting, fermentations with indigenous yeast, and long, gentle macerations in the cellar — yield wines with intense aromatics, precise structure, and serious minerality. We can’t get enough. Her Langhe Nebbiolo is no exception.
It’s lighter than you would expect, and highly perfumed. The way that the fruity, floral aromas dart happily between the tightly knit tannins is an incredible experience on the palate. It makes me think of Giulia herself, of her robust laugh and her very Italian tendency to speak excitedly, and discerningly, on a given topic for as long as she has breath. Like her, this wine isn’t just animated and serious. Rather, in both Giulia and her wines, excitement and profundity are entangled. Their depths could not exist, could not have been excavated, without the perpetual energetic motion of a brilliant spark.