Thursday, March 3, 2022

Nebbiolo Day in London by Hunt and Speller

In company of the great Alessandro Masnaghetti

Another great tasting of nebbiolo organized magnificently by Hunt and Speller of London in the Royal Horticultural Society, a habitual venue for sommelier in the capital.

Nebbiolo is synonym of Piemonte (Piedmont) of course and of Barolo and Barbaresco, the two iconic wines of the region. But it is more that than. It is grown in adjacent regions and it is vinified in a variety of ways. 
I even found a sparkling wine, produced with the traditional method and light pressing of the grapes, for a final rosé result.

The highlight of the day were the three masterclasses, see some notes below.

The most curious novelty, for me at least, was a sparkling wine made with lightly pressed nebbiolo by  Casina Bric.  Il Nebbiolo d'Alba spumante dates back to 1970, and is the 3rd "spumante" DOC awarded in Italy, though the vineyard goes back to napoleonic times. Delicate aromas and med body. Score 85

Masterclass N. 1: Barbaresco, with Alessandro Masnaghetti

The life of Barbaresco turns around the Tanaro river. On the left bank sandy soil, it is more difficult to grow nebbiolo. On the right bank clay, results in a more tannic and structured wine.

DOC received in 1967 for about 200 hectares, the area grew to 500 hectares by the 1990s and it is now close to 800.

Four "comuni": Barbaresco, Neive, Alba and Treiso, each with its own distinctive features.

Younger soil on steep slopes, less sedimentation, richer in nutrition for the vines. "Evolved" soil on smoother slopes, more sedimentation results  in accumulation of more nutrition.

Generally rounder, more elegant products compared to Barolo. (Barolo producers may not agree.)

1. Poderi Colla Roncaglie 2018
Light garnet color, lively tannins. Moderate balance but lacks somewhat in structure. I can feel the alcohol, a more traditional winemaking?
Score 82

2. Pio Cesare, Il Bricco 2018
Full garnet color, oaky nose and palate. Complex and long and well balanced. Stereotypical smooth and full bodied barbaresco.
Score 90

3. Giuseppe Cortese, Rabajà 2018
Deep garnet, full body,  round and smooth. Very long. A masterpiece. Ready now, hard to say how much it could still improve.
Score 94

4. Albino Rocca, Ronchi 2018
Full, round wine, ripe fruit and long finish. Also ready now, no reason to wait.
Score 94

5. Cantina del Pino, Orvello 2018
Ruby color with garnet highlights. Still a bit rough but a very structured wine with promising evolution. For lovers of traditional nebbiolo with no concessions to modern smoother taste.
Score 95

6. Adriano Marco e Vittorio basarin, 2018
Amazingly complex and round wine, full of nuances, very long finish
Score 96

Masterclass N. 2: Valtellina, Alto Piemonte and Roero with Walter Speller

Nebbiolo as a grape has been documented since the XVI century, and has been a protagonist in northern Italy for longer. However it has not been possible to find its parent grapes as they probably died out over time.

Most people focus on the tannins of Barolo, but this is not entirely fair: one should pay more attention to BALANCE!

1. Arpepe, Rosso di Valtellina 2020
Tingling, fresh, lively, mod balance and length.
Score 85.

2. Dirupi, Gess 2017 Valtellina Superiore Grumello Riserva
Smooth and balanced, mod long.

3. Nino Negri, Sfursat Carlo Negri 2018 Sforzato di Valtellina
Round, long. Called the "son of the wind" because it is picked in early October and then dries 100 days in boxes in a "fruttaio". No control of temperature or humidity. Then pressed in December when below zero. And blended with grapes taken from the vines, so it is actually two separate harvests mixed together. A mix of amarone and late harvest / icewine style.
Score 92

4. Cantine Garrone, Prünent 2019 Valli Ossolane Nebbiolo Superiore
Powerful, balanced and long.
Score 94.

5. Antoniotti Odilio 2018 Bramaterra
Dark garnet, fermented in 120-years-old cement tanks! No temperature control.
Full bodied, majestic wine.
Score 95

6. Le Pianelle 2016 Bramaterra
Dark garnet, a balanced wine with complexity and a long finish.
Score 92

7. Travaglini 2016 Gattinara Riserva
North Piedmont, cooler areas and windy. Unique bottle, dates back to 1958. Apparently Charles V loved this wine...  Touch of bitter, great length. nebbiolo is called "spanna" in this part of Piedmont.
Score 95

8. Hilberg Pasquero SUl MOnte 2016 Nebbiolo d'Alba
Needs time to round the tannins, a powerful structured wine with huge potential.
Score 93

Alessandro Masnaghetti
Masterclass N. 3: Barolo, with Alessandro Masnaghetti

1. Diego Morra, Monvigliero 2018
Fresh and harsh, needs a long time to mature.
Score 83

2. Ceretto, Brunate 2018
Still needs time but I can feel a huge potential once the rough edges and rounded out a bit. Typical Brunate according to Masnaghetti, with a touch of unmistakable and pleasant bitterness. A powerful wine.
Score 90

3. G.D. Vajra, Bricco delle Viole 2018
Round and still with good potential.
Score 92

4. Rocche di Castiglione, Brovia 2018
Smooth, long and with powerful tannins, needs time.
Score 94

5. G. Fenocchio, Villero 2018
Grande vino, it screams for more time to evolve but it is already amazingly powerful, round and long now.
Score 96

6. Diego Conterno, Ginestra 2018

Score 94

7. Ettore Germano, Prapo 2018
Great balance, harmony!
Score 98

8. Grimaldi Bruna, Badarina 2018
Perfect balance velvet complexity and and incredible length.
Score 98 

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