Product information

Luciano Sandrone Valmaggiore Nebbiolo d’Alba 2017

Nebbiolo from Roero, Piedmont, Italy

$90

$86ea in any 3+
$82ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork

Description

My two favourite Neb’s from Sandrone came at the polar opposites of the price spectrum. The Valmaggiore at $82 is less than 1/10th the price of the 2013 Vite Talin, Sandrone’s latest release super cuvée. It’s a wonderfully elegant drink with a divine aroma and chalking tannins. It show just how good Nebbiolo from the Roero can be.

The 2017 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore is bright, fruity and absolutely delicious. The warm vintage seems to have given the Valmaggiore an extra kick of mid-palate sweetness, which is not a bad thing for a wine that can at times be a bit lean. Sweet red berry fruit and floral notes are nicely pushed forward. The 2017 will benefit from a few years in bottle, which will allow the aromatics to develop, but it is impeccable in its balance and super-classy, even in the early going.

Galloni

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Check out all of the wines by Luciano Sandrone

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

About Sandrone

When you hear of Luciano’s history in the industry the quality of his wines makes sense. Where many Barolista have been born into the industry Luciano’s family were carpenters, making furniture and repairing barrels.

He saw something else in his future, wine! With stints at Giacomo Borgogno, Marchesi di Barolo producing over 1 million bottles a year amongst others. He found himself gathering a breadth of experience, and, importantly the respect of many vineyard owners, who would later offer their lands to him.

Starting with limited vineyard experience, Luciano, released his first wine from the 1978 vintage and has since gradually accumulated land holdings across virtually all of the communes in Barolo, and, the Valmaggiore vineyard in the Roero.

In the early eighties together with the likes of Domenico Clerico, Roberto Voerzio, Enrico Scavino the Picoli Produttori was formed. In a way a new generation bucking the traditional wines of Barolo.

Reflecting on this I see great similarities to part of Burgundy where young winemakers have taken the reigns and without a doubt the ‘New World’. Why? A fascination with experimentation, using technology, new oak, lead to a dramatic change in the wines being produced.

In Australia, with no restrictions, we saw attempts to wedge 200% new oak into wines, push alcohols to new highs, whilst making wines so technically correct they were often devoid of personality.

Similarly, in Barolo, new oak barriques, stainless steel fermenters of all shapes and sizes, and, technologies that had not been used before were all introduced.

From a winemaking perspective, experimenting with these often requires going all in! Once a wine is in a new barrel it’s in! When you spend $100’s of thousands if not millions on equipment, you have to use it. You get to experiment once a year, then the full results of your experiment will only be know 10-15 years later after the wine has been bottled and allowed to age to a reasonable maturity.

Just like we are seeing balanced, fresh vibrant Chardonnay in Australia today after years of ‘Dolly Parton’ wines. The new wave of Barolista have over the years continued to refine their wines. Perhaps, their advantage, being an established base of old vines to work with. Giving them the depth of fruit and sophistication of tannin only possible from an old vine.

Today, most are reducing the amount of new oak they are using and bring back the large 1,100 to 5,500 litre Oak  Botti of the past which help the wines remain fresher whilst ageing and impart little oak character.

The earlier wines I tasted from many of these producers were out of balance. Perhaps the turning point came in the early 2000’s with many well on the way to making wines that are now much more an expression of their fruit than an oak tree!

Bartolo Mascarello would indeed be happy to see this!

Sandrone’s Vineyards

Located in Barolo, in the heart of the Langa area, Sandrone plantings are spread across three communes in Barolo with Cannubi Boschis and Vignane in Barolo, Merli in Novello, Villero in Castiglione Falletto and Baudana in Serralunga d’Alba. The slopes are hostile, the soil is rich in structure but poor in substance and the sun is slower to set.

Beyond Barolo Sandrone has an outpost in the Roero Hills, approximately twenty kilometers from Barolo. At the beginning of the 90s, they discovered a beautiful steep terrain in Roero, with a softer structure; a cradle for the vine, a natural amphitheater so steep that the sun is able to warm it up also in winter, when it rotates lower on the horizon. This is Valmaggiore, where they have planted our Nebbiolo vines following the lineaments of the soil, respecting the orientation of the hill, looking for the perfect harmony with the territory.

What immediately struck me for a vineyard of this size, a permanent staff of 12 is employed. Having worked full hands on vineyards this is a ratio of staff to land near 50% higher than most, and, a clear indication of just how much work goes into the vineyard.

A Tale of 3 Nebbiolo’s

Sandrone’s three Nebbiolo’s represent quite distinct philosophies and sites.

The single vineyard ‘Valmaggiore’ from the Roero just north of Barolo region makes a wine that is at one extreme of Nebbiolo, elegant and feminine, Pinot-esque, whilst the Barolo’s, the multi-site ‘Le Vigne’ and Cru ‘Aleste’ previously named Cannubi Boschis rest at the other, bold, proud, yet with a sophistication and restraint that yields great poise and intrigue.

Historically Barolo, was just Barolo, it didn’t matter where it came from, a blend was made and a single wine released. Bartolo Mascarello the most well known proponent of this approach through all the evolutions that Barolo has seen over recent decades.

In recent times, single vineyard wines, known as Cru’s, have become the norm. This is no different to the wine 1er Cru’s of Burgundy that often ended up in the village wines.

The interesting point for Sandrone of the two Barolo they have one sitting in each camp.

The belief that the blend, delivers a wine that is better than the sum of its parts, and, for the Cru wine that a true, pure expression of the vineyard, the terroir will be poured into your glass.

At the end of the day. We’re not in the position to argue the toss, as we don’t have the components of the blend to try over time, nor do we have a  blended version of the Cru.

It makes for an intriguing comparison with winemaking in Australia. Some of Australia’s greats have based their wines on blending within a region, across regions and even states. Others have made their name on single vineyard wines. What remains constant is both, blended and single vineyard approaches, have produced outstanding wines.

and now a 4th … The 2013 Barolo ‘Viti Talin’

Below is a cast of Barbara talking through the 2013 releases and a number of back vintages of Sandrones wines. We spent half an hour chatting after the masterclass. She’s a wonderfully down to earth, passionate woman, who truly believes she’s lucky to share the experience of working the land with her family.

 

92 Points

The 2017 Nebbiolo d'Alba Valmaggiore is bright, fruity and absolutely delicious. The warm vintage seems to have given the Valmaggiore an extra kick of mid-palate sweetness, which is not a bad thing for a wine that can at times be a bit lean. Sweet red berry fruit and floral notes are nicely pushed forward. The 2017 will benefit from a few years in bottle, which will allow the aromatics to develop, but it is impeccable in its balance and super-classy, even in the early going.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Sandrone, Via Pugnane, Barolo, Piedmont, Province of Cuneo, Italy

Roero
Piedmont
Italy