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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 changes 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 aging 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!

About Sandrone’s Wines

“Le Garagiste”. Our story started in the 70s in our Family garage and since then it’s been brought forward with heart, commitment and much presence of mind. From the simple things, Sandrone’s philosophy was born. Today as much as yesterday, but with stronger and solid roots, we keep on doing our work well.

The suave, seamless texture, fine tannins and depth of flavour of these Barolos makes them some of the most sought-after wines of the region. With age, they are so polished, so pure, so seductive. Sandrone uses 500lt barrels (typically only 10% – 20% new), picks at very low yields and bottles his wines before they lose their freshness or purity. His wines are wonderfully intense and vibrant with ripe, fine tannins. They drink well young and age brilliantly. Like most of the greatest producers he takes the best of the old school and incorporates the best of the new.
The wines are bright and beautifully sophisticated which we suppose is up to date, but many of the methods are essentially old school: organic viticulture (is that modern or traditional?), open-top fermentation tanks, elongated skin contact, natural yeast fermentation, no barriques and no additions, bottling without filtration, and so on.

Of course what is most important is that irrespective of fashion or style, Luciano Sandrone crafts wines of profound integrity, purity and deep expression. These are wines made with passion and honesty. They provide great drinking pleasure both when young and with bottle age. As a fastidious and naturally talented vigneron, Sandrone’s obligation to keep the unique signature of the terroirs alive is vividly captured in the wonderfully intense wines.

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.

From Sandrone we had the wines in the glass. Yesterday Barbara Sandrone shared ‘Valmaggiore’ from 2015 and 2011. ‘Le Vigne’ from 2013, 2007, 2004 and 2001. ‘Aleste’ from 2013, 2007, 2006 and 2001.

Sandrone’s wines stand proud no matter the region, or, whether the wine was blended or single source! Read more about them in the reviews below.

To put this in context. I’ve drunk an incredible amount of Barolo and Barbaresco. Just last month I’ve devoured 12 vintages of Giacomo Conterno’s Cascina Francia, 11 Cru Wine from Produttori Barbaresco, 3 from Domenico Clerico, 12 Cappellano’s both Pei Francesca and Rupestris, Monprivato, Gaja Barbaresco, Aldo Conterno’s Romirasco, Vietti’s Castiglione, and, several of Paolo Scavino’s Cru’s.

Below is a cast of Barbara talking through the current 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.

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Picolo Produttori, Luciano Sandrone's 2013 & Sibi et Paucis, Cellar Releases

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About the Wines

Luciano Sandrone 'Valmaggiore' Nebbiolo d'Alba 2015

Pretty

By comparison with the Nebbiolo from Barolo, the 'Valmaggiore' vineyard just to the north of Barolo in the Roero produces pretty almost Pinot-esque wines. The 2015 is feminine, elegant and fine. The strawberry fruit, has a hint of sour cherry nuzzled up next to it. The long fine tannins supporting it well. Over time the wine opened and the hint of reduction blew off allowing the fruit to shine through.

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

Luciano Sandrone 'Valmaggiore' Nebbiolo d'Alba 2011 Sibi et Paucis (Cellar Release)

Delicate

Like the 2015, the wine showed great elegance and finesse. The extra years have offered beautiful development to the wine. An enchanting perfume and flowers, matched with hints of truffle. Delicate and vibrant, the supple fine tannins sit beautifully in the wine.

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

Luciano Sandrone Barolo 'Le Vigne' 2013

A blend of several small parcels of vines from a number of communes, Le Vigne is Luciano Sandrone’s ode to “traditional” or blended Barolo. All of the sites that go into Le Vigne are markedly different in terms of altitude, soil and exposure and together they help provide a broad overview of Barolo in a given year. As for the previous release, this wine now includes fruit from four communes: Barolo (Vignane), Serralunga (Baudana), Novello (Merli) and a new source in Castiglione Falletto – the renowned Villero. Sandrone has taken a long term lease on 1.5 hectares of this latter cru (perhaps best known for Giacosa’s ‘Villero’ bottlings between 1978 – 1996). The vines here average around 30 years of age and Sandrone credits the Villero fruit as adding depth and structure to the blend. Regarding the winemaking, the wild yeast fermentation commenced in tank before the malo and aging in mostly used 500 litre French oak casks. The maturation in cask lasted 26 months, followed by 18 months bottle aging before release (ditto for the Cannubi Boschis).

Delicious

A wine of great poise, density and length. Although it has incredible power, there is a balance, restraint, and, harmony, that gives it elegance and immediate generosity. It's rich, layered with complexity and lovely fine tannins.

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

96 Points

The aromas to this young Barolo are vivid and bright with blueberry and stone character. Full body, chewy and polished tannins and a flavorful finish. Powerful and balanced. One of my favorites. Drink in 2021.

98 Points

Sandrone’s 2013 Barolo Le Vigne is a real stunner. Powerful, ample and deep, the 2013 exudes class from start to finish. The addition of Serralunga fruit in the blend has added depth and structure in all of the wine’s dimensions. Dark red cherry, plum, mint, rose petal, tar and licorice build into the huge, voluptuous finish. Readers who can find the 2013 should not hesitate, as it is outrageously beautiful and also one of the clear wines of the vintage. Vineyard sites are Baudana, Villero, Vignane and Merli.”

Vinous Media

96+ Points

"The 2013 Barolo le Vigne is another stellar achievement from Luciano Sandrone and his family. Since 2010, the blend for this wine has been tweaked just a bit to include more fruit from the Baudana cru in Serralunga d'Alba. This wine shows a ripe and succulent mouthfeel with ample richness and power that drives the wine smoothly over the palate. These darker qualities can be attributed to the Baudana fruit that is known for power and heft. Fruit from the Villero cru in Castiglione Falletto offers delicate perfumes and ethereal elegance. This vineyard site is home to loose, sandy soils. The combination of these two extremes is simply delightful."

Wine Advocate

Luciano Sandrone Barolo 'Le Vigne' 2007 Sibi et Paucis (Cellar Release)

The last time I had this wine was a year ago, my daughter had just had her first birthday. I recall being transfixed by this very special wine, enjoying it over several hours, constantly finding it offering a new scent and flavour, always a loverly texture.

Intriguing!

Just as good as the last bottle I devoured. Fresh vibrant, balanced. Lovely woody herbs, secondary development offering up truffled earth, such length, lingering fruit, supported, by plush supple tannins. Incredible personality!

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

96 Points

Blueberries, flowers and raspberries on the nose. Full bodied, with velvety tannins and a long caressing finish. Lots of toasted oak. Impressive intensity and richness to this. Best after 2015. But so wonderful now. Tasted 2011

James Suckling

Sandrone Barolo 'Aleste' 2013 - Previously named Cannubi Boschis

ALESTE is the new name for Sandrone’s Barolo Cannubi Boschis. Giving all the experience, knowledge, patience and passion of his many harvests, Luciano pays tribute, with boldness and sensibility, to the next family generation: “ALESTE” is in fact the combination of the names of his grandchildren ALEssia and STEfano.

Over the last decade conflict has reigned upon the owners of Cannubi and the sub-regions, Cannubi-Boschis, Cannubi-San Lorenzo, Cannubi-Muscatel, and, Cannubi-Valletta. In question the naming of the main Cannubi vineyard and whether it’s status should be passed on the all the sub-regions.

With an established reputation, and, the confidence, or, perhaps wisdom of 40 years experience, the name change was opportune.

This site has been vinified separately by Luciano Sandrone since 1985, a decision that was instrumental in bringing the concept of single vineyard or “Cru” wines to the fore in Barolo. To be clear, Boschis is a particular terroir or vineyard within the Cannubi hill. The Boschis subzone sits near the northern end of the hill, and is located directly across the little valley from the Sandrone winery. The cru (of which Sandrone farm 1.9 hectares of 37 year old vines) has a particularly good exposure to the south and southeast in a small amphitheatre or “conca” that helps hold warmth in the early morning. Its soils are sea deposits of calcareous clay with good drainage. Highlighting the distinction in this terroir’s wines from the rest of the Cannubi hill, Alessandro Masnaghetti’s L’Enciclopedia delle Grandi Vigne del Barolo describes a Boschis wine thus, “The wines, in general, have good body, much elegance, and more polished tannins than other Cannubi wines.”

Superb

The purity of Aleste is striking. Incredible, incredible harmony, beautiful poise. Stunning flavours, incredible vibrancy, life, fruit that lingers forever.

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

95 Points

Extremely perfumed with blackberry and chocolate aromas. Hints of mushrooms. Full body, soft and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Shows wonderful potential. This replaces their Cannubi Boschis bottling. Better in 2020.

97+ Points

The 2013 Barolo Aleste is a wine of striking purity and nuance. It is also one
of the most finessed, vivid young Barolos I have ever tasted from Sandrone.
The translucence of Nebbiolo comes through loud and clear. Freshly cut
flowers, mint and finely cut fruit are some of the signatures. This wine has
developed beautifully in recent vintages as the oak influence is less than
it was just a few years ago. Beams of tannin and bright, salivating acidity
add finesse to this translucent, exceptional Barolo. Aleste is the new name
Sandrone is using for the Barolo formerly known as Cannubi Boschis.

Vinous Media

97 Points

"Formerly known as Barolo Cannubi Boschis (the last vintage by that name was 2012), the 2013 Barolo Aleste has been renamed to honor the youngest generation of the Sandrone family, Alessia and Stefano. The wine name Aleste takes the first three letters from each grandchild's name. The move represents the culmination of more than 50 harvests completed by this legendary winemaker and his desire to pass on the torch. His grandchildren are at different points in their respective viticulture and enology university studies. Now under a different name, the wine obviously shows the same delicate floral nuances that you get with this wine (fruit from Cannubi is always harvested first). This is a complete and exciting wine with delicate notes of wild berry and smoke backed by licorice and blue flower."

Wine Advocate

Sandrone Barolo 'Cannubi Boschis' 2007 Sibi et Paucis (Cellar Release)

Stunning

Like the 2007 Le Vigne the tannins sit proud on intital openning. Their quality shines through. In just a few minute in the glass the wine pops, the fruit exerts it self and incredible intrigue, and lovely secondary characters, with an entrancing perfume laced with truffles. Softened considerably since Suckling's tasting in 2011.

Paul Kaan - Wine Decoded

97 Points

This is very tannic and mouth puckering, with coffee and berry character but turns a little bitter. Full bodied, blockbuster style of Barolo. Massive. Give it five years. Wait until 2016.

James Suckling