If you want to get your head around Barolo the best thing you can do is drink it with someone that knows more about it than you. There are not many in Australia with as much Nebbiolo under the bridge as David Ridge … see I can rhyme!
David Ridge, Neb-Head, responsible for bringing the likes of Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno and Bruno Giacosa to Australia shared his incredible depth of knowledge of all things Barolo in a session at Wine Decoded HQ. David spent a couple of hours with us tasting through all 8 Cru’s made by Sordo. Yes, that is right, 8 Cru’s from one producer!
There is so much gold in David’s insights, you’re going to need to watch or listen a couple of times … preferably with a glass in hand.
Prior to trying the wines, I asked myself, will this result in confusion and seeing a jack of all trades and master of none. After smelling the Langhe Neb, Barbaresco and Barolo Normale I realised the reality, was going to be the complete opposite. All of the wines were superb individual and delicious! Given the geographic and varietal spread we work with in Australia, it was a silly thought really. Here’s a family working with one variety over an area that is 10km wide and 15km long (excluding the Roero and Barbaresco fruit). Compared to some of my past winemaking experience working across multiple regions hundreds of km’s apart, spanning a dozen varietals, they have some serious focus!
We recorded the session, and, now, share it with the Wine Decoded community. We introduce you to Nebbiolo, take you through the geology of Barolo and its impact on the wines, 5 of the 11 Communes that make up the Barolo region, and, 8 special Cru’s including some of the rarest and most sought after in the world!
Get in touch with us before you next head to Barolo and we’ll get you connected to the Sorodo Crew!
This is an exceptional opportunity to grab a set of wines, break it down into brackets of 2 or 3 and try them along with the film we recorded below! It’s like a masterclass in your own home. Grab some wine loving friends and listen to the Nebbiolo wisdom of Neb-Head David Ridge & Wine Decoded’s very own Paul Kaan who combined have devoured 1,000’s of Nebbiolo’s!
Watch 🎥to get the full experience with flyover maps of the communes and more. Listen 🎧 if the NBN is annoying you! Unfortunately, we lost the footage for the intro and exploration of the 2017 Langhe Neb, 2016 Barbaresco & 2015 Barolo. We saved the Audio, it’s not as good as usual, sorry. Listen and enjoy!
The 4 brackets
All of the wines were beautifully made, expressive, showing great balance and harmony. The élévage was excellent. Loads of energy through the line-up. It really was a case of celebrating the differences. Some of the wines are drinking beautifully now (and have plenty of legs on them) others were still tightly coiled needing time. All had the right bits in the right places and were full of personality.
TOP TIP – If you want to try them in brackets like we did or over time grab a Coravin and use it to save the wines.
Bracket 1 – The Perfect Intro: 2017 Langhe Neb, 2016 Barbaresco, 2015 Barolo
The Langhe Neb is from the Valmaggiore region of Roero. It’s a stunner, rating alongside Vajra’s + Rivetto’s 2017 and Voerzio’s 2016 as my favourites at the mo. A beautiful perfume, with fine dusty tannins, and, what I’ve discovered is Sordo’s hallmark, excellent élévage. Great drinking and the perfect intro to the range. Lythe, elegant, refreshing.
The Barbaresco a blend from Treiso, Barbaresco and Nieve with exceptional energy and vitality. Lively, balanced acidity. Vibrant juicy cherry fruit, excellent mouthfeel. Incredibly transparency. Wicked complexity so much going on. Layered. Showing just how good 2016 Barbaresco is. Such a refreshing wine.
The Barolo savoury, earthy, rich, plush tannins, plenty going on. A great intro into Sordo Barolo. Dark and generous showing the dominance of La Morra in the blend. Beautiful élévage. Great drinking.
Bracket 2 – The Playful Ones: 2015 Ravera + Monvigliero
You could happily drink both of these with a decant and time in the glass now. They have plenty of time in them too!
Ravera generosity with playful front mid-palate tannin, that Sordo élévage, so much fun.
Monvigliero Opening with juby cherry fruit that resolved beautifully in the glass, a slight lift in the structural tannins, remaining plush and again fun.
Bracket 3 – The Super Stars: 2015 Villero + Rocche di Castiglione + Monprivato
Wow just wow. Incredibly different and complete wines. I could just spend hours smelling these 3.
Villero Incredible perfume, so much intrigue. Felt like I was drinking and exceptional Chambolle-Musigny. Line and length of tannin and acid. Such harmony, beautiful fruit. Layers of tannin and flavour, great complexity. I love this!
Rocche di Castiglione Brooding and dark, bold structure, while still being supple. There’s a trick! Tightly coiled it progressively opened. This will be a special wine in time. So much going on.
Monprivato Earthy and savoury with great depth and length. Incredible core of fruit. So many layers of flavour and tannin, just so much to get from this wine. Such purity, detail, so fine, it draws you in.
Bracket 4 – The Bold Ones: 2015 Parussi + Perno + Gabutti
Here we find the structure, bold tannins, exceptional tannins, will need time to uncoil and build secondary characters and resolve.
Parussi a different expression to that of Massolino, perhaps, bolder, with common traits. Like the other wines in the bracket, it took time in the glass to pop. Hours later it was drinking beautifully. Showing tannins of Castiglione Falletto, even and long. Darker and brooding. This is going to a cracker in time.
Perno took the second longest to reveal more of itself. Like the other wines in the bracket is demanding time in the bottle. Perfume combined with secondary complexity the name of the game here. Along with the Gabutti, chewy tannins of quality, with loads of attack. Peter Godden described the 2013 as old school in terms of structure, I’d concur.
Gabutti the most tightly coiled and brooding of all of the wines. Chewy old school tannins like the Perno. You can see this building into a fascinating wine as it resolves. If the 2008 Gabutti Riserva I had is anything to go by this will be a cracker given 5+ years in bottle to resolve, build generosity and express its full complexity.
About Giovanni Sordi
Sordo HQ is nestled in the corner of Castiglione Falletto comune on the last stretch of the Alba-Barolo road before it takes that left fork up to Barolo village. You take this track (Frazione Garbelletto) just to the left for Paolo Scavino and Azelia, or right another 100 metres to the entrance of the Sordo family’s quite spectacular and beautiful new cellar.
While the sheer impact and architectural quality of this new facility is eye-catching, it’s the wines that demand even more attention. For sheer consistent excellence of this number of wines made in an essentially traditional and unforced style, it is impossible not to take note of the wines of A A Giovanni Sordo . These wines have been described as ‘transparent’ and they are made by people who want their wines to speak of where they come from.
One of the really fascinating themes to a Sordo tasting is that all the Baroli are made as identically as is realistic. Vinification is in controlled temperature (to 30o) steel & cuve with submerged caps for up to 50 days. A further 2-4 months in steel, is followed by 24 months in large Slavonian botti. Giorgio Sordo likes the wines to have a further 4-6 months in steel, to “freshen them up” before bottling. Aha, so these are the secrets to transparency?
The 2015 Vintage
2015 began with high levels of snow providing good water reserves. Combined with mild spring temperatures and various rainfalls, bud break and flowering were early, followed by an excellent fruit set. From the second half of June throughout July, there was no rain and temperatures stabilized to above-average maximums. Fortunately, the vineyards were not stressed thanks to the plentiful water reserves. In terms of quantity, production was average allowing for careful, targeted green harvesting with special care taken to ensure foliage was managed to provide good protection for the clusters. There was no disease pressure so preventative measures were not required. The white varieties were harvested between the end of August and mid-September and the excellent sugars were matched by wonderful acidity. The Dolcetto harvest began around the second week in September and the wines were aromatic, softer and deeply coloured. Barbera is the variety which perhaps most benefited from the 2015 season with the usually high acidity tempered by excellent ripe tannins, dense colours and richly flavoured fruit and body. Nebbiolo ripened perfectly, though slightly earlier than the last few years. The excellent quality of the tannins balanced by perfect acidity will certainly ensure elegant, long-lasting wines with good structure.
Where in Barolo are Sordo’s 8 Cru’s?
While they release 8 Cru’s, Sordo own of 17 parcels of Barolo cru
And what places these wines come from! Since the very early 20th century, generations of the Sordo family have been quietly collecting parcels of the finest Nebbiolo-growing dirt in the Langhe. They now have numerous plots of vines in Roero, Barbaresco and particularly Barolo – where they actually own 17 pieces of cru classified vineyard and release an unprecedented 8 labelled (Barolo) cru wines from these, so far.
These are a cavalcade of Barolo’s most famous names – many of them appearing in any list of Barolo’s Top 10 cru; Ravera, Monvigliero, Parussi, Perno and Gabutti and the revered Castiglione Falletto trio of Villero, Rocche di Castiglione and the elusive Monprivato; the one most thought was Giuseppe Mascarello’s monopole, isn’t quite. Sordo started making theirs from 2012. Prior to that, it’s been going into the normale.
Sordo’s Released Cru’s
The map below shows the boundaries of each of the 11 communes of the region of Barolo and the location of each of Sordo’s Cru’s within the communes.
The map below shows a very rough divide of soil types across Barolo. The MGA soil map shows these in great detail. It’s only a rule of thumb but a reasonably good one.
The map below shows details of all of the Cru’s in Barolo say you can see how big or tiny each one is and which vineyards surround the Sordo’s Cru’s. Barolo is roughly 10km wide and 15km long.