Elio Altare

Country of Origin: Italy
Location: Barolo
People: Elio Altare, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic


Elio Altare 2012 Langhe Rosso, Larigi, DOC Login WA 91 AG 92 In Stock
Elio Altare 2014 Dolcetto d'Alba DOC Login AG 90
Elio Altare 2012 Barolo DOCG Login WS 93 In Stock
Elio Altare 2012 Barolo, Arborina, DOCG Login In Stock
Elio Altare 2009 Barolo, Cerretta, DOCG Login WA 97 AG 95 In Stock

Below the hilltop town of La Morra and above Annunziata, lay the 5 hectares that make up the Altare Vineyard, which has been planted and maintained by the family since 1948. But the story is not all bucolic: the owner/winemaker, Elio Altare, now renowned for being a major innovator in the region, almost lost all claim to the winery for his rebellious winemaking views.

Elio was at the forefront of the period in Barolo when traditional, regional winemaking collided head-first with a new generation’s desire for modernity. After a trip to Burgundy in the 1970s, Elio returned with new visions of modernizing the family winery--which meant replacing the large aging barrels with smaller French barriques. His father did not share his vision, and the tension culminated when Elio took a chainsaw to his father’s old barrels. He was banned from the winery until his father’s death in 1985. Since he has regained control, he has implemented organic agriculture, the use rotary fermenters and short macerations and he has employed small barriques for aging.

Elio’s focus is on simple and natural wines without chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. He bought two cows to create manure, which is all he uses for fertilization. He uses only indigenous yeasts and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, and the wines are not filtered or fined. He adds nothing that might change the color or texture, and he uses stainless steel tanks and clean barriques. Basically, these are unmitigated wines that express the nature of the grapes and place they came from.

Elio Altare is a family affair with Elio’s daughters, Silvia and Elena, representing the next generation. Elena studied enology, and Silvia studied Economics.

"A long-time lover of Burgundy, Elio Altare is one of many Barolo modernists who treats his Nebbiolo gently, almost as if it were Pinot Noir. He uses no commercial yeasts or enzymes, racks his wines a maximum of three times in all, and bottles without fining or filtration during the third summer after the harvest. Altare wasn't yet swallowing the hype about 2010, maintaining that "the wines could lack flesh and sweetness. What's a grand vin?" he asked rhetorically. "Is it a black color? Is it 15% alcohol? For me, the most important thing is to make wine without faults every year." - Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar 12/2013

"In my opinion, one of the benchmarks of a truly great estate is exceptionally high, uncompromising quality across the board. Altare is without question one of those properties where every wine is well worth the effort of seeking out." - Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate 10/2012

"Elio Altare is never a man to mince words. He tells the rags-to-riches story of Barolo with conviction, passion and firsthand knowledge. La Morra went from having a handful of farmers (five or six) back in the early 1970s to dozens of estates today. Back then, grape growers were considered so low in social rank, many could not find local women to marry. They imported wives from poorer regions of southern Italy, like Calabria and Basilicata, to live in the Langhe. “C’era la fame qui,” he says. (“We were starving.”) From his panoramic porch overlooking the Frazione Annunziata section of La Morra, he sighs, “Just look at us now.” He tells the story of his first trip to France: “It blew my mind that producers in Burgundy were buying Porsches and yachts with just a few hectares of vine while we were dirt poor.” Highly influenced by that trip (his use of French barrique for aging Nebbiolo is a prime example), Altare returned to Italy and vowed to shake things up. He most certainly did." - Monica Larmer, Wine Advocate 6/2013

Media Links
Vinousmedia.com: Portraits in Nebbiolo - 1984-2004
Winegeeks: Winery of the Month Elio Altare

Video Links
Guildsomm: The Wines of Barolo and Barbaresco (features Silvia Altare)


  • Elio Altare 2012 Langhe Rosso, Larigi, DOC
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 91 (5/2/2015)

    Made with new oak, the 2012 Langhe Larigi shows a deep, penetrating and velvety appearance. Larigi is a pure expression of Barbera (from old vines) that macerates on the skins for up to four days. The color is rich and well concentrated. The best thing about this wine is that you never get that biting acidity that Barbera can give in lesser expressions. Morello cherry, blackberry and light spice come into sharp focus.
  • Elio Altare 2012 Langhe Rosso, Larigi, DOC
    Rating: 92 (3/1/2015)

    The 2012 Larigi, Altare's old-vine Barbera, offers good immediacy in its bold, pungent fruit. Dark red berries, spices, mint, sweet spices and licorice open up in the glass, but overall, the 2012 is a bit compact and not fully expressive, both of which are uncharacteristic for a warm year. It will be interesting to see if the 2012 puts on more flesh in bottle. There is good persistence and fine overall balance, just not the showiness of some years.
  • Elio Altare 2014 Dolcetto d'Alba DOC
    Rating: 90 (12/1/2015)

    The 2014 Dolcetto d'Alba shows what a quality-obsessed grower can achieve in a tough year. The vintage may not have provided the best conditions, but that did not stop Altare from crafting a beautiful, expressive Dolcetto long on class and polish. Red plum, mint, sweet spices and lavender are layered into the exquisite, mid-weight finish. Yields were down around 30%, which is typical for the year.
  • Elio Altare 2009 Barolo, Cerretta, DOCG
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 97 (5/2/2015)

    The 2009 Barolo Cerretta is not a Riserva, but it is released six years after the harvest. Fruit comes from a 4,000-square-meter parcel near the Bricco Cerretta hamlet in Serralunga d'Alba that is shaped like a little mound with excellent exposures on its various sides. This wine shows an excellent sense of balance with beautiful freshness and aromatic intensity that still feels youthful and vibrant. It offers seamless endnotes of wild berry, balsam herb and toasted almond. This wine will hold strong for many more years to come.
  • Elio Altare 2009 Barolo, Cerretta, DOCG
    Rating: 95 (5/1/2013)

    Dark shades of black cherries, plums, menthol, spices and tar explode from the 2009 Barolo Vigna Bricco Cerretta. This rich, sumptuous wine is endowed with serious depth and power. The 2009 is years away from drinking at it speak, but it is striking, even today. Layers of huge fruit supported by equally imposing tannins wrap around the plush, powerful finish. The Cerretta is another wine with a bright future.
  • Elio Altare 2012 Barolo DOCG
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 93 (12/31/2016)

    Aromatic and expressive, displaying macerated cherry, licorice and rose flavors, with hints of leather. Elegant, pure and well-structured, showing great balance and finesse. The finish echoes the fruit and adds a mineral element. Best from 2018 through 2033.