Paiagallo in early spring, with the town of Barolo in the background

Louis/Dressner Treasures of Piedmont: Canonica and Gea

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I’ve always had the sensation of stability at Canonica – the calm and contented atmosphere of the old family house, the Canonicas’ positive outlook and gentle good humor, and the consistently very high quality of the wine. But things change, and a great boom is under way! The house is expanding to add some more rooms to the B&B, and the wine has become wines! From last year there was a Langhe Nebbiolo, and now, a second Barolo, from Grinzane Cavour. Total production is up to about 8,000 bottles (compare to the giant production of next-door neighbor Bartolo Mascarello of 30,000 bottles), so even though there’s not a lot of the new wines, their addition is a significant development, and very welcome for us fans. Jamie Wolff

Elena and Gianni Canonica at home.

 

 

Fabio Gea in his vines in Bricco di Neive, Barbaresco                                                          

 

In person Fabio Gea is a kind of human whirlwind, buzzing with energy and eager to communicate his complicated philosophical and mystical ideas regarding the connections between nature and wine and humans. We tasted with him at a small fair in Asti and we were very impressed by his wines, but it was frankly a bit hard to concentrate on the wine over the monologue. A year later, it was great to re-taste the Gea wines in the calm of the Louis/Dressner office. They are distinctive, maybe even a little eccentric, but the wines show striking purity and focus.

In fact, striking might not be a strong enough adjective for stand-out wine from a zone that’s still largely producing technically correct but standard wines (we have another fine, new-to-us Barbaresco coming this fall – more on that later). The fact that much Barbaresco is still swamped with oak doesn’t help. There are very few producers that we’re excited about, and it’s great to discover some compelling wine, and to have an addition to our small range of naturally made and traditional style Barbaresco that includes Cascina delle Rose, Serafino Rivella and Roccalini. Kudos to Louis/Dressner! Jamie Wolff

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Canonica, Giovanni 2012 Barolo Grinzane Cavour - Limit 1 Per Customer, Please!

Barolo labeled Grinzane (or one of the 5 crus of the village) is rare, and we really know very little about the territory or what a Grinzane wine ‘should be’. Suffice it to say that Canonica has made an excellent wine from his recently inherited Grinzane vines (which are 50+ years old, with a high percentage of the now quite rare “Rose” clone of Nebbiolo). I thought it was one of the best 2012s of the many dozens we’ve tasted, with dramatic fruit aromas that follow all the way through to the finish with a flourish of kirsch-like fruit, though much modulated on the palate by savory notes. The wine was showing very open and energetic, with elegant ripe tannin; it was considerably more accessible than the Paiagallo, but clearly will age to its benefit.  Jamie Wolff

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Canonica, Giovanni 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo - Limit of 3 Per Customer, Please!

Very savory, with pronounced ripe tannins, this wine is fermented and aged in steel, and doesn’t spend any time in wood. Nonetheless it has much of the presence and gravity of a Barolo, and is a superior expression of Nebbiolo in comparison to many actual Barolos. Jamie Wolff

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Gea, Fabbio 2014 Dolcetto d'Alba Pino

This Dolcetto is a TKO – an all-around beautiful wine. So many Dolcettos seem to be aiming for weight and an attempt to be what Italians call “important wine,” but this one has good ripeness and transparency, combined with a brilliant energy that makes it a pure delight.  Jamie Wolff

Louis/Dressner asked Gea for some comments on his wines. The Dolcetto is from: “A 25 years old vineyard with a “royal” Sud-West exposure (typically there dedicate to the best Barbaresco vineyards), with the traditional familiar architecture of plantation: 2 near vines every three meters (do these forced couple speak friendly, discuss, or love themselves??), hand-destemmed, and one year in demijohns or porcelain jars. (622 bottles made)."

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Gea, Fabbio 2011 Barbaresco Notu Seguiva le Gocce d'Acqua

Barbaresco: “Notu” was Fabio’s grandfather, and the name of the wine means “Notu followed the drops of water.” Although it may not be intended, the reference to water makes sense when you taste the wine, which has a kind of crystalline freshness and clarity that reminds one of spring water. Fabio writes: “48 months fining barrel (the wood Fabio use are not really “toasted,” but vaporized with specific volcanic hot rocks (no any creation of toxic elements after this treatment) and after unique mass for 6 months in porcelain jars (Fabio is the designer and the ceramist of his own porcelain jars; very probably the first one winemaker in the world that uses “no breathing ceramics” for winemaking).  1175 bottles made.”The 2011 is an edgy, dynamic wine, showing ripe fruit balanced by great lift and transparency. It stands out in the vintage, and it’s exciting to drink.  Jamie Wolff

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