Why is this Wine so Yummy?
The Perfect Storm
2016 has come at just the right time. We have a number of winemakers with incredible experience and wine wisdom. The vineyards in Barolo are in the best condition they’ve been in with incredible detail going into their care.
Combined we have a situation where vignerons are in the best possible position to make the most of the great fruit yielded by the 2016 harvest!
When you compare the 2015 & 2016 vintages you see the difference between a warmer vintage with a shorter ripening period and a cooler one with the longest ripening period in memory.
Nebbiolo responds beautifully to a cooler longer ripening. Once it reaches sugar level high enough to make a wine around 14-14.5% alcohol the sugar levels stop increasing, it tends to hold its acid and the tannins so important to the insane mouthfeel of Nebbiolo ripen and increase in depth.
Such vintages tend to offer wines with more perfume, energy, and, vitality. This is the case for Sordo’s 2016’s.
Watch 🎥full length 4 part series covering the 2016 wines & get the full experience with flyover maps of the communes and more. Listen 🎧 if the NBN is annoying you!
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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 🎥full length 4 part series covering the 2016 wines & get the full experience with flyover maps of the communes and more. Listen 🎧 if the NBN is annoying you!
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: 2016 Barbaresco, 2016 Barolo
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.
Obvious density of bright fresh red fruits and flowers. Roses. This bottle open (Coravined) a week now and shows secondaries today. Some strawberry or raspberry lolly, more rose, real density here. Mouthfilling, very long, nicely grippy and zesty. So confident and complete **+ DR
Has developed beautifully over the last year. The perfume, the energy, such fine bones, delicacy, delicious juicy fruit. Just keeps getting better. Nice little bit of licoricious on red cherries with excellent vibrant acidity. Lovely Barbaresco. PK
The Barolo Full, dense and obviously really bright. Rose, maraschino, fleshy red plum/red prune.
More fragrant than earthy- forcefully fragrant. This is fabulous, just keeps opening; violets now, more dried rose. Palate is explosive, very full, up and lively, textured and complete.
Notable, tingling acidity woven through. Masterful blending.
A great summary of this vintage. ***+ DR
80% La Morra. Immediate generosity has it open for action but so much more. A little chocolate and little coffee, savoury bits on dark fruit. There is a lot going on here with layers of flavours and tannins. The depth and length are impressive. Wonderful harmony and presence. PK
Bracket 2 – The Playful Ones: 2016 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 Aha – this red cherry and brick-dust opening is becoming familiar; the Ravera trademark. Then some gorgeous classy, sappy note, some rose perfumes and back to the recurring essence; red things. Lush, saturated red things dominate, with whatever might be underneath, mostly swamped for now. A lot of wine. Palate is expansive, nervy and savoury – in fact quite grippy. Reminds a lot of 2013. Great potential, not bad now! *** DR
A wonderful example. Crunchy red fruits with the energy of 2016, there’s the overlying perfume and incredible length just goes for every. The sophistication of the front mid-palate tannin is there. The refreshing balanced acidity. Playful yet leveling up to serious. A lythe yet present flavour profile. PK
Monvigliero Very recognisable again; the graphite and generous almost smoky black cherry/prune announces a Monvigliero. Often the most ready and giving of the Sordo Cru, this is both expressive now, yet clearly very classy. Maybe a bit of orange liqueur today? Probably shows more dense and complex than previously. Even a touch glossy. Moderately grippy as expected, and with a nice fine acid tingle. *** DR
Superb, the flint, the slate, the dark sour cherries, such length. Incredible wine. A hint of macerative, grape marc character, again energy, vibrancy. Nice florals. Tannins that almost remind me of a little whole bunch will resolve. Should be a fun evolution for this one. This has a wonderful personality.
Bracket 3 – The Super Stars: 2016 Villero + Monprivato + Rocche di Castiglione + Parussi
Wow just wow. Incredibly different and complete wines. I could just spend hours smelling these 4.
Villero As tight as … usual. Some cherry/cranberry skin and dried flowers poking out and some hints of the darker layer, tobacco. Opens to quite pronounced pot-purri and some fresh-flower fragrance. fabulously framed full palate with unevolved but full, textured, firm and forceful. Long. Seamless acid/tannin of Castiglione (and St Julien) Tight knit, this one. Wonderful. *** DR
It had a bit of lees in it. The difficulty of transporting a bottle and coravining it to show people in this situation. You need to handle it like a Bass Phillip. Make sure it is well settled and decanted properly. If you don’t the solids get mixed in, make it cloudy and dull the aroma and flavour and bugger the texture. I settled a glass for a couple of hours and dropped ¾ of the solids out and pipetted the clear off the top and it immediately looked so much better, the perfume came up, the core of fruit came through and the mouthfeel and tannins showed much better form . It’s not a faulty, just needs to be handled sensibly.
Will be looking at another bottle shortly to make 100% sure and get a better read on it. PK
Monprivato Started dense and fragrant…then shut down. All about delicacy, almost Barbaresco-like with roses, strawberry, orange and musk. Slowly opens, to cranberry, fading flowers and more dense elements of cherry liqueur cinnamon and tobacco. A brilliant classy sappiness tell-tales on a red of essential tightness, but evolving complexities. Palate is big; bigger than Rocche and with some clear ripe red fruit flavours and that Castiglione acid/tannin bonding. Has energy. Should do big things. Slowly. *** DR
Deceptive, a sleeper. Toit as. Lovely long layered tannins. Looking for this to fill out. Perfume on the nose, shifting to savoury and earthy with David’s dried flowers. Closed at the moment on palate. Feel like it doesn’t quite have the depth and length. It reminds me of many wines I’ve seen before that built in bottle over a decade revealing what had been hidden. Only time will tell. PK
Rocche di Castiglione Seeing a more crimson touch (than Villero or Monprivato either side) and certainly Rocche’s density of colour overall. Again a controlled, blockbuster, with layers of dried and fading flowers, tobacco, cranberry and cherry liqueur. Huge, almost sweet palate. Long, but tight and relatively unevolved still, of course. Will be superb again. ***+ DR
Castiglione Falletto. Lustrous mid ruby. Quite ripe but more savoury than sweet. Succulent red fruit with a truly juicy finish and gripping, firm tannins complementing the whole perfectly. (WS) Drink 2022 – 2036 17 ++ Walter Speller
Such a complete wine yet tightly coiled and the moment, everything in it’s place and place for everything. Incredible tannin profile this year. Such lovely ripe nutty tannins of serious depth. The core of fruit is exceptional and long. Mouth filling, I so want to see a bottle of the 2010 to see where it is at right now. It feels like a young 2004. Just restrained enough to stop it blowing your mind. The length of tannin is incredible. Persistance+++. The structure here builds a notch beyond Villero and Monprivato. After 3 hours in the glass it’s just starting to show itself. Sordo’s Rocche always takes a long time to show itself. 2015, 2013, 2006 and 2004 drinking wonderfully. 2004 still in the 2nd phase of development. All take hours to open up. PK
Parussi …doesn’t change its spots. Chubby is the word here – gorgeous lush, ripe, generous red fruits and big vase of fading flowers, some chocolate and cherry liqueur. This will be noticed and loved. Palate is big, sweet and expansive, yet sitting all around, or just slightly under all this, is a nice grippy/tingly frame. Glorious, energetic, rich Barolo hanging it all out there. ***+ DR
Opulent with again a step up in structure. Broody on the palate, should develop beautifully. As David puts it, it’s chubby. Immediate generosity on the nose. So much aroma and flavour. Mid-palate fruit weight here is insane. Rich and chocolatey with savoury dark fruit, hints of that faded flowers and tobacco. Earthy delicious and just so much pleasure to be had. PK
Bracket 4 – The Bold Ones: 2016 Perno + Gabutti
Here we find the structure, bold tannins, exceptional tannins, will need time to uncoil and build secondary characters and resolve.
Perno Light, tight and teasingly fragrant. Very typical Perno; aromatics jostling with tannins. Cherry liqueur, sandalwood, menthol, violet and blueberry. Very Monforte tannins sit straight up, grippy and chalky in the mouth. Power and finesse, but barely useable just yet. Very long life here. *** DR
Monforte d’Alba. Lustrous mid ruby. A nose bursting with minerals and saline hints. Muscular, gripping but polished tannins with supple crushed red-berry fruit. Very long and focused. (WS) Drink 2022 – 2036 17 ++ Walter Speller
Excellent, immediately took me to the 2010 Riserva. Wonderful density. Every sniff sees another scent wafting out of the glass. The tannins show the benefit of a long ripening season. Yes, they have structure, they are damn fine tannins of exceptional depth and length. Hints of tobacco, earth, savoury bits and such a long deep core of fruit. This will develop beautifully. PK
Gabutti Ooh. Wow. So dense in aromatics that it’s hard to label them! Wait.
Ok start with cherry cola, then a smoky thing, some fennel seed, cigar, porcini and spice, maybe nutmeg or cinnamon. Plate is ultra elegant, complete but not a bit ponderous. Very fine – although the tannins are clearly Serralunga black tea type.
Simply fabulous and the star of this first tasting. ***+ DR
Insanely good, incredibly complete. Benchmark stuff. Such a fragrance! This is mind boggling. Wonderful flow length+++. The sophistication of tannins here is insane. Here we see an incredibly complete wine. Such sophistication and power. There’s an elegance and lithe nature to this incredibly powerful beauty. The flowers are intoxicating. Again length +++. The sophistication in the tannins this year is phenomenal. PK
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 2016 Vintage
The 2016 vintage was one of the longest-lasting in recent years. Early winter was dry and mild, however from the end of February through March, the temperatures dropped with plenty of rain, providing good reserves of water. The “late” cold delayed the vegetative cycle, and spring proper also started wet with average daytime temperatures but low overnight minimums, helping retain good health. This phenological delay continued until the end of the summer, which began slowly but extended until the end of September. The white harvest ran from September 5th to 20th, with the wines showing excellent aroma and good acidity due to cooler summer temperature peaks. The red harvest began immediately after with Dolcetto, followed without a break to the middle of October with the Barbera and Nebbiolo. 2016 was a very good vintage for Dolcetto, but even more so for Barbera, which acquired excellent levels of sugar over a long period of stable conditions, while maintaining the varietal’s typically good acidity. Nebbiolo also achieved good phenological ripeness, a direct result of the perfect warm, sunny conditions of the second half of September. Whilst it is still early, the 2016 vintage wines display excellent balance, generous aromatics and great structure, and in some cases lower alcohols, compared to 2015. 2016 promises to be a vintage which will be talked about for a long time to come!
2016 is already being mentioned in the same breath as 2004 & 1990!
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.