Size & Type
In recent times, Vigna Rionda gets spoken about as the grand cru of the Langhe – altitude, exposure and soil profile play an integral part. As expected, this is Giampaolo’s flagship wine. The oak regime is similar to the ‘Marenca’ but with a larger portion of newer oak – around 30%. Ultra-powerful and layered in fragrances, flavours and textures. Smoke, graphite, incense, stock/porcini, sweet tobacco, violets. All this character is underpinned by a fierce, tingling acid line and a complementary sturdy structure.
The cluster of famous crus owned by the Pira family are the premier vineyards around Serralunga village: Margheria and Marenca, which are only just separated from the great Vigna Rionda. Barolo ‘Serralunga’ is the Pira normale, an assemblage of the three crus.
The story of the Pira family is the story of Barolo, one told about people of great warmth and integrity. Always seeking quality and improvement, the Pira family are workers of the land, using the grape Nebbiolo (and Barbera and Dolcetto) as the medium through which their particular terroir can speak. Like many Langhe families, they started as growers and eventually released their own wines under the family name.
Luigi Pira was the first to bottle the family’s wines, prompted by stories from the outside world of the interest in Barolo, and encouraged by sons Giampaolo and Romolo, and later Claudio, who were confident of the eventual demand for Serralunga and the importance of their vineyard plots. Giampaolo later took the reins in the winery and was one of the original and probably the lowest-key of the ‘Barolo Boys’.
Seeing compost in vineyards is always a good sign. Health dirt, better water retention, a greater volume of soil accessible to the vines, slow release of nutrients all positive.
Up until recent years, the use of roto-fermenters with quick ferments and a decent amount of new oak resulted in somewhat ‘Parker-ised’ wines, but due to the very strong Serralunga imprint – stock, smoke, graphite and darkest cherry – the wines and their personalities always overtook the oak. These days, ferments have been significantly slowed down to allow for a gentler process. The barrels are fewer, larger and older, and commentary on the presence of oak has disappeared over the last few years.
Today, a Luigi Pira Barolo is regarded as a benchmark for wines that show classic Serralunga characters of darkness and power, allied with numerous complexities and an up-tempo style. Vineyard management has been essentially sustainable for decades, too, and Pira are long-time practitioners of cover-cropping, natural insecticides and minimal sulphur use. One testimonial to this combination of attention to detail in both the winery and vineyard is to the distinctly individual characteristics in the ‘Margheria’ and ‘Marenca’ Baroli, even though the crus are adjacent.
A long, wet winter, replenishing water reserves following the drought of 2017. Bud burst was normal but cool, wet conditions prevailed well into spring. Late May and early June saw storms and high rainfall, but fortunately flowering and fruit set followed under ideal conditions. Development over summer was even, with temperatures rising considerably from mid-July.
A long period of fine conditions helped the grapes to ripen gradually, with September once again blessed with warm sunny days and cool nights. Nebbiolo yields were low and benefitted from the ideal conditions, with harvest from early October. In Barolo and Barbaresco, 2018 produced beautifully balanced Nebbiolo wines with excellent acidity and ageing potential.
Luigi has an incredible cluster of 3 Cru’s in Serralunga with: Margheria, the adjacent Marenca, and, the nearby Vigna Rionda.
This 3D flyover is Epic covering each of the communes you can see just how varied and extreme the aspect of each vineyard is and how in the space of a few metres just how dramatically the change.
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Azienda Agricola Luigi Pira