Olek Bondonio

Piedmont (Barbaresco), Italy

Olek Bondonio is quite at home on the steep slopes that surround his Barbaresco cantina, having been a champion snowboarder in his youth. It’s an historic family estate that he visited as a child. Olek is no ordinary contadino (farmer) – he was raised in Torino and spent his summers in the Langhe. Prior to taking on the small 3.5ha property, and upon leaving wine-school in 1993, he wisely travelled the world seeking experience in Australia, New Zealand & then Bordeaux.

The wine estate is perched close to the Tre Stelle frazione of Barbaresco, and is currently planted with of Grignolino, Pelaverga, Dolcetto, Barbera & Nebbiolo grapes, with the emphasis on Nebbiolo. He’s blessed with vines in the fine Barbaresco vineyards of Straderi, Roncaglie, & Roncaglietta; the latter facing a perfect west overlooking Alba & controversially labelled ‘Sori Tildin’ by his more famous neighbour. He makes a Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbaresco &, depending on the quality of the vintage, Barbaresco Roncaglietta.

2005 saw the inaugural vintage, all two thousand bottles. Olek favours the small size of estate as it allows him to single-handedly work the vines & make the wines. Viticulture is essentially organic while the approach in the tiny cantina is traditional, fermenting in large cement tanks followed by ageing in Slavonian Gamba & Stockinger (Austrian) Botte Grande; all in a scrupulously clean environment (something he did learn about in Bordeaux!). The wines are traditionally framed while boasting sweet ripe fruit, making for contemplative, but also highly drinkable Barbareschi. The resulting wines are pure expressions of Piemonte’s heirloom grapes.