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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
2011 Francesco Clerico Barolo Vigna Colonnello. Dark garnet robe. Dried roses, wild strawberry, balsam, wet iron, and violets on the nose, with game notes and spice. The midweight and fresh (especially for the warm 2011 vintage) palate offers a burst of red fruit flavors with a fine salty mineral core that gives way to deeply savory notes of stone, iodine, and turned earth on a long, mouth-watering, sapid finish. This has great energy and a sneaky sort of structure with the red-fruited dry extract underlain by ripe tannins and a firm mineral core, which bodes well for aging. And which this is by no means slick or polished, there’s flair and character to burn. This is unabashedly traditional Barolo and deserves a place at the table and even more so, space in your cellar. Fabulous with a pan-roasted veal chop with truffles and Swiss Chard, but would sing with a a bowl of polenta and a sauté of wild mushrooms, or perhaps veal shank and risotto. And while Francesco Clerico’s wines may not be the flashiest or most flamboyant of the Langhe, I’d pit their frank soulfulness and honesty against nearly all comers. John McIlwain
Feeling in Fall fettle. That chill to the air and early sunset has me dreaming of (and cooking) risotto with roasted Kuri squash, wild mushrooms, and a bit of sage. Kinda calls for Nebbiolo. And to catch up with the latest in Piemonte, time to reacquaint myself with the beautiful and classically-styled wines of Francesco Clerico. This organic(!) grower in Monforte d’Alba makes wines which harken back to an era before rotofermenters, French oak, and ego. Think soulful—the Impressions or the Four Tops—but without the overt polish of Smokey Robinson. Aromatically waves of dried roses, cherry pit, and violet give way to earthier notes of maduro tobacco, iron, and a faint hint of anise. The spirited, mid-weight palate checks off all the Nebbiolo boxes: rosesroadtarvioletssaddleleather with a savory/salty, nearly iodine finish that ends with enough lifted acidity to cleanse the palate and beg for another sip. A nifty pairing with the risotto, probably better still with a moderate portion of tajarin festooned with an intemperate amount of shaved truffle. This is a wonderful Langhe Nebbiolo that dodges the sometimes overwrought character of the 2015 vintage and offers perhaps more rusticity than flair, but ultimately satisfies with its forthright character and sheer deliciousness. John McIlwain
Decanted for 5 hours: pale rim, nice bright core; the nose floral, tar and cocoa — tight; on the palate ripe black cherry, tannic / chewy, dense — lots of extract; very full bodied but balanced; great finish — a burst of fruit at the end that reminds me of the La Tache ‘peacock’s tail’ — at any rate a rare phenomenon. After 72 hours: the wine has really opened up — all of the elements are more evident; it all marries together beautifully — this is clearly a great wine — one for the record books. JW
There's no '03 Monfortino, so all of the fruit went to the Cascina Francia — and it's a wine that transcends the vintage. When you have a wine that will age for 20+ years, who needs Monfortino? The wine is rich, dark, concentrated, but shows none of the aggressive tannin and tomato-y fruit that's so common in 2003. I think it's a classic in the making — but it needs a lot of time in your cellar. JW
Enrico VI is Cordero's name for a small parcel of old vines in Villero. It's a grand wine, worthy of its royal name.
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".
A very fine and very complete wine. Balanced, savory, with super-elegant tannins, this needs some real time in the cellar. Jamie Wolff
Sandri has decided to call this wine "Monforte", rather than by the sub-zone of Perno. But nothing else has changed, and he made great wine in 2012 - rich and ripe but energetic and lifted, with very fine tannins, and with no signs of heat. Jamie Wolff
The 2016 Sandri Langhe Nebbiolo had a ruby to garnet robe. Fine rose petals, black cherry, cherry stone, hints of iron, spice and game. The mid-weight palate offers the classic flavors of cherry and rose water, succulent acidity, and dried violets with dusty ripe tannins. This has good concentration and drive with corresponding weight and is a fine pairing with wild mushroom risotto and an even more felicitous pairing with a sliver of Taleggio. Cascina Disa is rather quickly becoming one of my go-to Langhe growers and Elio Sandri a bright talent. John McIlwain