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When opened a few hours beforehand, this wine showed notes of sour cherry, under-ripe raspberry and red forest fruit on the nose, along with some signs of development: undergrowth and dried mushroom. The palate carries a faint touch of oak spice, vanilla, and a hint of smoke.
2014 was a challenging vintage in the Langhe, with hailstorms, rain and a relatively cool summer leading to uneven ripening and variable quality. Fortunately for us, the high standards that we are used to from our friends are Barale didn't drop, and while the 2014 Barolos aren't as concentrated or deep as the 2013s or 2010s, they offer a lot of pleasure to those inclined to drink their nebbiolo younger. The normale bottling comes from the vineyards of Castellero, Preda, and Monrobiolo, and shows classic notes of dried cherry, dried rose, earth, and warm spice, lifted by good acidity. A great option while you wait for other Barolo in your cellar to mature. Oskar Kostecki
Castellero is located in the village of Barolo, between the more famous vineyards of Bussia and Cannubi. This steep slope is composed of well-draining calcareous marl which are perfectly suited to Nebbiolo. This site is planted to the historic Michet, Rosè and Lampia clones of Nebbiolo, and propagated by massale selection. The Castellero is deeper and shows more concentration than the normale bottling, with notes of cherry, red forest fruit, dried spices, herbs, floral notes of rose and violet, sweet spice, and undergrowth. Pair with roasted red meat or game, or cellar for a few decades. Oskar Kostecki
The Barale Barolo is a blend of fruit from 3 vineyards (all in the town of Barolo): Castellero, Monrobiolo di Bussia, and Preda. The 2015 has good depth and extract, but it seems completely effortless in it’s elegance – this is wine that feels like it just exists – it hasn’t been forced in any aspect. In April it was aromatically seductive, with lovely orange peel and eucalyptus, silky tannin, and a long, expansive finish. Jamie Wolff
This beautiful Barbaresco comes from 40 to 50 year old vines planted in Serraboella, the most elevated point on the highest hill of Neive, with quite extreme diurnal shifts in temperature leading to an elegant and lifted style of Nebbiolo. The nose opens with notes of soft spice, sandalwood, dried roses, violets, and macerated cherry. The palate is rich, yet taut, showing beautiful flavors of dried cherry, forest fruit, dried orange peel, more spice and sandalwood. The tannins are present but well integrated, and this wine has acidity for days. What struck me the most upon tasting at the cantina was the intensity of flavor and complexity that builds to a beautiful crescendo and an incredibly long finish. Drinking well now with a long decant, this will only improve in your cellar. A fantastic value. Oskar Kostecki
Barale's Dolcetto d'Alba is a very charming wine, with pretty violet floral tones and soft red/black fruit (plum, wild raspberry, redcurrants). The vines grow on calcareous marl soils in Monforte d'Alba at 450 meters above sea level, and while this wine is very easy-drinking, it is by no means simple, with great acidity and medium, very well integrated tannins giving it a pleasing structure. This would be a perfect addition to any summer barbecue or cookout. Oskar Kostecki
Checking in on 2017. Cherry, violets, roses, and rust (iron) on the nose. It doesn't offer quite the density of 2016, but shows plenty of energy and brio on the palate—raspberry, sour cherry, a touch of iodine earthiness keepsthings upright. Ripe tannins and fresh acidity lend lift and brightness. A fine pairing with polenta with sautéed porcini and pretty cracking with roasted squash and sage. Barale may be one of our most consistent Langhe growers, offering excellent value every year. John McIlwain
Paiagallo 2014 shows a lot of complexity for such a young wine - at first very savory and ripe, then lovely bright cherry fruit on the palate and finish.This is clearly a wine for the cellar, as behind (or perhaps under?) the beautiful clarity of fruit is that brooding core of material that will take years to fully express itself. Quite a majestic wine, and a triumph for the vintage. Jamie Wolff
All of Francesco Clerico’s wines (Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo) could be used in a class as textbook examples of traditional Langhe wine. Clerico’s certified-organic vines are in Bussia di Monforte (mostly in the Colonello sub-zone of Bussia Soprana, and also in Bussia Dardi), an easy walk from his cantina in Borgata Bussia Soprana - like the wines, a hamlet that feels as though time has passed by. 2015 was a good year for Barbera in general; Clerico’s is cool, deep, and lifted, with lovely balance between bright plummy fruit and earthy, savory and forest-y notes. It makes perfect sense for Thanksgiving, as it should work well with all of the varied components of the meal, even the cranberry. Jamie Wolff
The former owner of the Giacomo Conterno bottles in this offer writes: “As you know, Aldo and Giovanni Conterno divided property in the early 1980s after the death of their father. They also divided the bottles which at that time were still in the cellar, many dating back decades. Among them the 1927 and 1937 – all still without labels. Both Aldo and Giovanni Conterno used their 1960s / early 70s labels when the sold the old bottles. However for the vintage indication they had to improvise something, and they wrote the vintage by hand. Apparently Aldo Conterno also sold his part of the old vntages (I have never seen any so far) and he used his own labels from the 60s.”
All Grignolino, spontaneous fermentation, with minimal SO2 added. Very crunchy and refreshing, with Grignolino's characteristic tart and juicy fruit. EL
Principiano's Barolo Serralunga comes from two crus: Lirano, and the younger vine portion of Boscareto, the historic vineyard that abuts the famous Francia. In the 2015 vintage there will be no single cru bottling of Boscareto from Principiano, and so all the grapes are going into the Barolo Serralunga. This wine shows a beautiful light ruby color in the glass, with faint hints of brick red. The nose is deep and complex, with cherry, red fruit, rose and sandalwood combining in a balanced expression of classic Barolo. The palate shows the ripe nature of the 2015 vintage with quite open and approachable fruit, and once again that note of sandalwood and spice. Oskar Kostecki
Cowabunga! A Piemontese wine at only 10.5% abv. I would say that's unheard of, yet here it is. Principiano's incredibly charming and utterly delicious Dosset (the name for Dolcetto in the regional dialect) is a beauty: light, fruit-forward and energetic on the palate, with soft tannins and lively acidity. The Dosset shows vibrant fruit notes of cherry, forest berries, red current and red plum, with beautiful floral tones of rose and violet. Very light when first opened, with some air it fleshes out a bit, and a purple plummy note creeps in, along with a hint of spice. Great with a slight chill, this wine is perfect with a summer barbecue. Oskar Kostecki
Allowing for the fact that wine is a very subjective experience, I like to think that I call it as I see it. So I believe I’d know if it was a disaster, but otherwise I’m irrational and unreliable on the subject of G. Rinaldi. When I’m there, I wander around in a kind of stupor of infatuation with the wines. My penetrating notes (for 2013 Tre Tine, for example) say things like “super-great” [full stop]. I suppose if I have to have a wine crush, it might as well be on one of the best wineries in the world. Jamie WolffPS: Please don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t make the prices (neither, so far as I can tell, do the Rinaldis, because the wines leave the cellar at very reasonable prices). We’re well into the world of luxury goods here, and all I can do is sigh and make puppy dog eyes at the bottles while they’re in the shop. I do think it’s an objective fact that these are great wines and even if it’s a gratuitous comparison, they are the superior of many far more expensive wines.
Crichet Paje comes from some very old vines in the Paje vineyard. Luca Roagna explains that for years "because of the complications of local regulation we had to choose between callling the wine Barbaresco, or Crichet Paje — we could not call it Barbaresco Crichet Paje, so we chose to call it Crichet Paje... Crichet Paje is intended to be a unique and particular wine, an expression of our identity." It wasn't until 1996 that they were able to label the Crichet Paje as "Barbaresco Crichet Paje".
This is a spectacular bottle, multiples better than most Barolo or Barbaresco. I’m going to keep a few bottles for the long term, but it’s absolutely delicious now. Beautifully transparent, complete, satisfying, and everything one could hope for in young Nebbiolo. Made in the same manner as the Barolo and Barbarescos - 60 day macerations, etc. Jamie Wolff
We mostly taste Grignolinos that are dark, heavy, very tannic, lacking the freshness and charm that “correct” Grignolino shows. I think Rovero’s is textbook: light colored, aromatic of flowers, tart red fruit, with light tannins, and crisp acidity – all of this adding-up to a wine that I’d call charming for it’s easy drinkability, but underpinned by enough structure to keep it interesting. This, btw, is a red wine that is delicious a bit chilled, and it’s very versatile at the table. Jamie Wolff
Last May we tried a ton of Dolcetto in the company of two distinguished tasters who kept saying they didn’t like Dolcetto, which tends to put a damper on the experience. Sandri’s, however, made them sit up and take notice, so I give them credit for staying alert and flexible enough to change their minds. It’s bracingly juicy with wild brambly fruit that’s balanced with savoury herbs and chalky stone. Medium-bodied, very lively and lifted, it’s long and complete. I happen to like Dolcetto, but if they were all half as good as this one I might say I love it. Jamie Wolff Since the Fall cooking around my house is Piemonte-centric, I would be remiss for not including Cascina Disa's wines in my top choices for autumnal wines. Elio Sandri makes fabulous reds in Monforte d’Alba (Perno), which offer sophistication (though not flashiness) and also express terroir and Langhe soul beautifully. The 2015 Dolcetto is dark-fruited with ripe aromas of violets, blackberry, black cherry, plum, and pencil lead. The supple, but racy palate offers more dark fruit flavors over well-knit tannins and a succulent, buoyant finish. Fabulous with salumi, smashing with a cheese plate after dinner. This has a fine ratio of generous fruit to structure to terroir detail without any of the heat or excess that sometimes characterizes the vintage. I’m regularly impressed by the wines from Elio Sandri and can say without hesitation that he is a grower to watch. John McIlwain
Last May we tried a ton of Dolcetto in the company of two distinguished tasters who kept saying they didn’t like Dolcetto, which tends to put a damper on the experience. Sandri’s, however, made them sit up and take notice, so I give them credit for staying alert and flexible enough to change their minds. It’s bracingly juicy with wild brambly fruit that’s balanced with savoury herbs and chalky stone. Medium-bodied, very lively and lifted, it’s long and complete. I happen to like Dolcetto, but if they were all half as good as this one I might say I love it. Jamie Wolff
Since the Fall cooking around my house is Piemonte-centric, I would be remiss for not including Cascina Disa's wines in my top choices for autumnal wines. Elio Sandri makes fabulous reds in Monforte d’Alba (Perno), which offer sophistication (though not flashiness) and also express terroir and Langhe soul beautifully. The 2015 Dolcetto is dark-fruited with ripe aromas of violets, blackberry, black cherry, plum, and pencil lead. The supple, but racy palate offers more dark fruit flavors over well-knit tannins and a succulent, buoyant finish. Fabulous with salumi, smashing with a cheese plate after dinner. This has a fine ratio of generous fruit to structure to terroir detail without any of the heat or excess that sometimes characterizes the vintage. I’m regularly impressed by the wines from Elio Sandri and can say without hesitation that he is a grower to watch. John McIlwain
Sandri’s 2017 Barbera is a beauty. I might as well say tell you now: it has 15° alcohol. This is becoming quite common in Piedmont; some winemakers / some wines can handle it, and Sandri seems to have it figured out – at any rate the wine isn’t hot or overblown. It’s a Monforte wine – structured, savory, with lovely balanced black fruit, somewhat restrained; it’s a big wine, but has grace and energy. This is a Barbera that will benefit from a little time in the cellar to unwind and show it’s best, although you can promote the same result if you give it a couple of hours in a decanter. At the moment I’m writing (July), it strikes me as a perfect barbeque wine! Jamie Wolff