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Barolo, Monforte d'Alba

Bussia, which covers 340 hectares, is the second MGA of the Barolo denomination in terms of area, just behind Bricco San Pietro.

This  wide-ranging MGA extends from the hill of Pugnane, just above the plain, to the hamlet of Sant’Eligio, just outside Monforte d’Alba, for a total distance in a straight line of over 4 kilometers and an altitude difference of about 250 meters.

In such a vast area, especially in a hilly zone like Barolo, it is normal to expect an abundance of different shades, linked to the morphology of the hills and the consequent variations in exposure, as is very perceptible in this first panoramic image.

If, on the other hand, we examine the extract from the geo-viticultural map, we can see that the Bussia MGA is quite homogeneous in terms of soil and geology, and this could partly explain the common thread that unites most of the wines on the market today. As a rule they are noted for a certain density and rigor, often with an earthy note that needs time to smooth out and leave room for the more complex and delicate varietal notes.

With the exception of the lower areas, where the typical Sant’Agata Fossili Marls formation prevails, and the higher areas, where Diano Sandstones dominates, the rest of the MGA is a near total dominion of sandy Sant’Agata Fossili Marls with a scarcity of evoluted soils, which are generally limited to the less exposed areas.

But what is more important, in my opinion, is the fact that the research that determined the delimitation of the MGAs of Monforte d’Alba has merged under the sole name of Bussia many historical areas that have always enjoyed their own identity. To understand this, it should be enough to observe the second panoramic image.

Although many of these have then found their own prominence, thanks to the use of the word Vigna (see About the MGAs), I remain convinced that all of them would deserve more explicit and official status and that is why in the following paragraphs I will try to divide what the law has united.

Starting from the third image, the first important distinction that must be made is between Bussia Soprana, which is located approximately at the heart of the current MGA, and Bussia Sottana, which occupies the lower part. This distinction between “upper” and  “lower” is not a classification, even if  by tradition the wines of Bussia Soprana enjoyed greater prestige.

As you can see in the following two images, Bussia Sottana may be described as a basin closed to the north by the border with Castiglione Falletto and to the southwest by the border with Barolo (while behind us lies Bricco Cicala which divides it from Bussia Soprana).

Within it we can distinguish the area of Bussia Sottana proper, at the center and in blue, and the extensive area of Munie, which, following the indications of Renato Ratti’s map, I have extended as far as the border with Pugnane, but which actually goes from Cascina Conterno almost to Cascina Rovella. This area, which Ratti mentions as Fontanile (from the name of the Cascina Fontanin, which is actually in the commune of Castiglione Falletto), has its historical heart in the vineyards surrounding the Cascina Bofani or Lanza, once an ancient convent (munie in the local dialect means nuns).

The western side of the hill of Pugnane, although officially part of the MGA Bussia, has always had its own identity and is therefore not to be considered part of Bussia Sottana.

Turning now to the seventh image, and then to Bussia Soprana, we can see how this area can be divided into two distinct parts: on the right a large amphitheater that extends from the houses of Bussia Soprana to Vigna Gabutti, and on the left, and directly in front of us, a second slope apparently uniform in exposure. Actually, if we go back to the extract from the geo-viticultural map and follow the contour lines, we can see that the Vigna Colonnello area enjoys a much warmer southwest exposure, and this explains its greater reputation.

Speaking of reputation, let’s return for a moment to the opposite side, where several names stand out: Vigna Cicala, which enjoys a full southern exposure, except for a plot with an eastern exposure visible in the last image; Vigna Romirasco, which provides the backbone of Aldo Conterno’s Barolo Granbussia; and finally the Gabutti area, which historically also includes Vigna Mesdì and which, like Romirasco, enjoys a southwestern exposure. Vigna Gabutti also officially has a small appendage in the lower part of the slope, which is not shown in this image.

Of great repute, at least among insiders, is also the next sector, taking in Dardi, Mondoca and Pianpolvere, which together could also be considered as an extension of Bussia Soprana. Dardi and Mondoca are situated on the same hill: Mondoca referring mainly to the vineyards of the highest part, where wines tend to have more power and earthiness, while Dardi includes the vineyards of the lower-middle part where wines generally express more elegance and balance.

The next area, Pianpolvere, could also be divided into two distinct parts, although today they are both officially united under the name of Vigna Pianpolvere. On the border with Dardi lies the area of Pianpolvere proper, which of the two has the longest viticultural tradition, while at the eastern extreme is Pianpolvere Soprano, which, however, over three decades or more has shown no lack of excellence, albeit with a different style following a change of ownership from the Fenocchio family to the Migliorini family (Rocche dei Manzoni).

If Pianpolvere could still be considered as part of Bussia Soprana, with the next image we definitively enter another area of Bussia, divided between the Visette ridge, the Arnulfo hill (cited on Ratti’s map), and finally Fantini. This last cru is in a more closed position, and therefore cooler, but above all is distinguished by the presence of Diano Sandstone, at least at the highest part of the hill (see the image below). The wines of these entire areas maintain their structure and their earthy character unchanged, sometimes losing some aroma in the Visette area and gaining some fruit in that of Fantini.

The last image of this long series is dedicated to those parts of Bussia that are not visible in the previous shots and, in particular, to the east side of Vigna Cicala and the area near the border with Rocche di Castiglione, split off by the extension of this MGA in the commune of Monforte d’Alba, from where Barolo Rocche di Castiglione of Oddero is produced. The grapes for Barolo Rocche of Parusso come from the blue colored vineyards.

Recommended tastings – Bussia Sottana
Barolo Bussia Vigneto Bofani – Batasiolo; Barolo Riserva Bussia – Franco Conterno; Barolo Bussia – Giacomo Fenocchio; Barolo Riserva Bussia; Livia Fontana; Barolo Bussia – Parusso

Recommended tastings – Bussia Soprana
Barolo Bussia – Fratelli Barale; Barolo Gabutti della Bussia – Bussia Soprana; Barolo Cicala e Barolo Colonnello – Aldo Conterno; Barolo Bussia Vigna Colonnello – Prunotto

Recommended tastings – Dardi, Mondoca, Pianpolvere, Maniscotto
Barolo Bussia – Silvano Bolmida; Barolo Riserva Bussia Vigna Mondoca – Oddero; Barolo Bussia Dardi Le Rose – Poderio Colla; Barolo Tenuta Pianpolvere – Fratelli Adriano

Recommended tastings – Arnulfo, Fantini, Visette
Barolo Bussia Vigna dei Fantini – Silvano Bolmida; Barolo Bussia – Costa di Bussia; Barolo Bricco Visette – Attilio Ghisolfi

Surface: 298.89 ha
Elevation: 210 - 460 m
Harvest period
Very early
Very late
Geology: MSAs; AD, MSAt (Monforte d’Alba); MSAt; MSAs (Barolo)