Marchesi Antinori Releases the Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri Rosso 2021 from a 5-Star Rated Vintage…

Il Bruciato was created in the year 2002 during one of the most difficult vintages at Guado al Tasso in order to present the unique terroir of Bolgheri and give it a greater visibility and recognition. The first blend to be used was that of Guado al Tasso only to see, in the years which followed, a modification of the varietal composition and the identification of a series of vineyard plots intended to be used exclusively for this wine.

Until the current DOC regulations were laid down in 1994, Sassicaia and the other top Super Tuscan wines produced were usually sold as Vino da Tavola or Toscana IGT. Today a Bolgheri Rosso like Il Bruciato from Tenuta Guado Al Tasso may be made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or a blend combining one or more of these, and / or up to 50 percent of Syrah or Sangiovese. Other red grapes such as Petit Verdot may account for up to 30 percent. Earlier DOC regulations prevented monovarietal wines from being produced as Bolgheri Rosso, and some examples such as Masseto (pure Merlot) are also still labelled as Toscana IGT.

The Tenuta Guado Al Tasso estate covers an area of 320 hectares and is planted with vines, set in a beautiful plain encircled by rolling hillsides known as the “Bolgheri Amphitheatre” due to its particular shape. The vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Vermentino. The nearby sea provides a mild climate with constant cooling breezes that mitigate the sometimes oppressive summer heat but also act to alleviate harsh winter weather, maintaining a clear sky and a high level of sunlight exposure to the vines.

The world’s weather has become increasingly wild in recent years and looks set to continue as climate change makes its influence felt more and more. Although much of the growing season for 2021 was distinctly odd the world over, much of the vintage was surprisingly good – in some places like Bolgheri, even excellent. Thanks to a winter period full of rains, it had a very regular pattern, with a well-ventilated dry summer with temperatures never above the seasonal average. The good temperature ranges that began in the second half of August favoured the aromatic finesse of the grapes. The wines of the 2021 vintage are certainly convincing with a marked acidity freshness, ripe sweet tannins and a good level of phenolic extraction. It promises to be one of the best vintages for aging potential and it is presumably for this reason that the 2021 vintage was awarded a 5-Star rating.

Bolgheri Vintage Ratings: 1983 to 2021

Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri Rosso 2021, 14% Abv.

The 2021 Il Bruciato is a highly anticipated wine release especially after the broader Bolgheri region’s 5-star vintage rating awarded recently. This new release shows an intense, vibrant ruby red colour with just the faintest hint of youthful purple on the rim. Over the years, while this wine has undoubtedly increased considerably in price, it has also moved up to an undeniably more premium nouveau of fine wine quality and collectability. Within this release, the intricate, expressive aromatics are displayed to full effect with a fabulously crisp, tart, bright crunchy red and black cherry fruited nose punctuated by supremely expensive French oak vanilla pod spices, hints of warm buttered brown toast, sweet cherry tobacco and subtle notes of red salty liquorice. On the palate there is a texture of silk, with each blended component bringing its A game: the Merlot offering up its unique Bolgheri pithy cherry intensity, the Cabernet Sauvignon providing backbone, liquorice, cassis, cedar and spice, and the Cabernet Franc filling in the cracks to form the most unified and elegant of red offerings. As with all 5-star vintages, the paramount differentiating quality factor is the unique combination of fruit intensity combined with weightless concentration, together with bright, seamless acids that create a truly breath-taking wine. For me, this release opens a new door of elevated precision and quality that Italian fine wine aficionados and collectors with an eye for value and age ability will surely find irresistible. Drink on release and comfortably over the next 10 to 12+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Wines available retail through Museum Wines.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/shop/antinori/2021/il-bruciato-2021-ibd-pre-release-offer-for-6-bottles/

Tasting and Reviewing the Sensational New Release Oddero Piedmont 2019 Reds in a UK Exclusive Tasting…

Poderi e Cantine Oddero was established in the late 18th century by the Oddero family, who have lived in La Morra since the first half of that century. In the 1890s, Giovanni Battista Oddero began vinifying grapes, which lead to the winery’s establishment. Later, his sons, Lorenzo and Luigi followed in his footsteps. It was the first Giacomo Oddero, who started selling wine in bottles. However, it was the second Giacomo Oddero, who renovated the ancient farm and began elevating the quality and prestige of the region’s wine. Today, his legacy lives on through his daughter, Mariacristina, and his grandchildren, Isabella and Pietro, who represent the seventh generation of vinicultural tradition.

Early reports of the 2019 Piedmont vintage described it as a classic year. A cold wet spring slowed vine growth and the persistent rain made rot and disease a threat. However, despite the added risks, the rains gave the soils the much-needed water to survive the warm summer months. June then delivered a fantastic summer with the hot, dry days lasting through to August when a hailstorm broke loose. Good conditions swiftly picked up again and idyllic weather continued into September. Many of the grapes, particularly Nebbiolo, benefitted from the warm days and juxtaposing cool evenings.

Oddero is one of a handful of producers in Barolo who own tracts of the famous and highly sought after Cru Vigna Rionda.

However, a significant thunderstorm, as a final threat to the growing season, struck in early September followed by a nasty hailstorm which, depending on the vineyard, cut yields significantly particularly in Barbaresco. Good conditions allowed the harvest to begin early in September and picking began for both white grape varieties and early-ripening red varieties in the first week, while later-ripening varieties were picked towards the end of the month and into October. The resulting wines reached good phenolic ripeness forecasting good things to come with wines likely to have good fruit character, impressive structure and balancing acidity.

ODDERO LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2020

A taut, fairly reserved aromatics leading with earthy aniseed root, earthy red cherry, tilled earth, chalk dust and red apple skins. Palate is sleek and structured, tight yet generous with hints of tarragon spice, red peppercorns, red cherry and tangy bitter blood orange peel on the finish. A serious effort, with a stern frame, soft but fresh acids and a long harmonious finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BARBARESCO CRU GALLINA 2020

Wonderfully elegant and perfumed styling to this pretty Cru Gallina that shows rose petals, potpourri, red cherry and raspberry herbal tea. The palate shows incredible focus and precision, pristine purity and a fine grained texture bursting with red cherry, cranberry and tart red currant. Fabulously polished marble tannins frame this beautifully harmonious Barbaresco. Very impressive.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO 2018

A blend of Crus including among others Bricco del Fiasco, Villero, Capelot, Rocca di Castiglione, Monvigleiro, Bussia, etc. This wine is lovely and expressive, exotic and complex with deep, rich, sweet red and black cherry notes, kirsch liquor, blood orange, vermouth, subtle reductive saline cassis notes and hints of tar and black liquorice. The palate is beautifully polished, silky yet potent, with creamy powdery tannins, an opulently plump mid-palette and multiple textural layers of red strawberry and black cherry, kirsch and aniseed spice under a veil of smoky minerality. The pedigree of a top producer shines in this pure fruited benchmark estate blend. Bravo!

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Pietro Oddero describing the 2019 vintage at an exclusive UK pre-release tasting.

The New 2019 Releases

ODDERO BAROLO 2019

Another cracking vintage delivers impressive depth and complexity on the nose and palate. The aromatics are expressive and perfumed with rich layers of pressed rose petals, red and black cherry, saline reductive black currant leaf, salty liquorice and subtle caramelised strawberry hints. The palate shows an impressive harmony and an opulent fleshy mouth-filling depth of fruit while retaining sufficient muscle, structure and shape. Vibrant and mouth-wateringly juicy, this is truly an unmissable Barolo normale that will thrill serious Nebbiolo lovers. Drink from 2024 and over the next 10 to 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BRUNATE 2018

A pretty wine with a certain amount of lift and overt perfume already. But still tightly knit and taut aromatics with hints of glacé cherry, red plum, aniseed and vermouth macerated oranges. The palate has purity and precision yet lacks nothing in the power department. Wonderfully sleek, mineral and spicy, you feel the power, the assertiveness and most definitely the precision of polished tight grained tannins. I’m always a fan of top Cru Brunate and this beauty definitely impresses again. Most certainly youthful but undoubtedly there’s a super seductive essence to this wine. I’m totally sold!

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BRUNATE 2019

Always an impressive Cru in great vintages, this is a rich, perfumed potent Brunate with aromatics of red cherry, dried herbs, tea leaf and a complex spearmint and cinamon lift. The palate shows a generous volume of red and black berry fruits, a plush fleshy mid-palate depth and delicious stony mineral layers that melt seamlessly into a juicy red cherry and spicy, earthy cranberry length. Pin point Barolo perfection. Simply superb!

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU ROCCHE DI CASTIGLIONE 2019

A lovely individual expression of Nebbiolo that reveals rich earthy, savoury red and black bramble berry fruits, sun dried cherry, aniseed stick and dried fennel seeds. The palate is broad and muscular with a fine grained mouth coating mineral tannin, spicy sweet baking herbs and a broody, fleshy finish with subdued berry fruits. Bury this beauty in the cellar for at least 5 to 8 years and your patience will be rewarded.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU VILLERO 2019

This shows a darker fruited expression than the Brunate but still with plenty of overt appeal, tar and roses, smokey reductive saline cassis and sweet earthy black cherry nuances. The palate boasts a generous, fleshy, fruit forward opulence with seductive showy red and black berry concentration, sweet fleshy tannins and a long, creamy, mouth-coating candied finish. Fabulous depth, plenty of fire power and undeniable class.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BUSSIA VIGNA MONDOCA RISERVA 2015

A much bolder, riper, deeper red expression with lush, broody, opulent aromatic layers of black cherry, liquorice, caramelised red cherry, vanilla pod and a broody, exotic earthy blood orange depth. Super plump, dense, focused yet deliciously spicy, taut and linear with frame and tension. Certainly enough extract and stuffing on the palate to allow this to age for quite a few more years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BUSSIA VIGNA MONDOCA 2017

Another potent, focused, powerful expression of Nebbiolo with piercing aromatics of black cherry, kirsch, melted black liquorice, polish mahogany and smoky hot tarmac. The complexity follows to the palate, showing a surprisingly silky, spicy, accessible elegance, a delicately fleshy savoury red and black berry fruit concentration, caramelised vanilla pod hints and a long, plush, finessed finish. A real beauty and an absolute triumph for the vintage! Ready to go now.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

ODDERO BAROLO CRU VIGNA RIONDA RISERVA 2016

This is one of the most coveted Crus of Serralunga d’Alba, an exceptional place where Barolo and Nebbiolo expresses itself in a truly unique way. The 2016 shows a complex set of aromatics in the glass revealing layers of earthy truffle, savoury red fruits, smoky cured meats, bresaola, salty liquorice, tar and roses and a subtle smoky hint of reduction. There’s a savoury, earthy red fruited ethereal power veiled under extreme textural elegance, salty concentration and focused mineral length. Vigna Rionda’s mystery lies in the sum of its characteristics and is manifested perfectly in a wonderful 5 star vintage like 2016. A true wine for connoisseurs and collectors alike. Make space in your cellar!!

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Oddero wines are available to UK trade from their exclusive importer Astrum Wines.

The Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Rosso 2020 Proves to be Another Blockbuster Release…

The beautiful Guado al Tasso estate is located in the small but prestigious Bolgheri DOC appellation on the coast of the Upper Maremma, about one hundred kilometers southwest of Florence. This appellation has a relatively recent history as it was only established in 1994 but has since gained worldwide recognition as featuring one of the most prestigious red wines in the premium Antinori family portfolio – Tenuta Guado Al Tasso.

Il Bruciato, the second wine, was first produced in 2002 in one of the most difficult vintages ever for the famous Guado al Tasso estate. The Il Bruciato wine is now regarded as a modern interpretation of Bolgheri’s unique terroir made from carefully selected Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from all around Guado al Tasso’s vineyards.

Guado Al Tasso barrel cellar.

The 2020 vintage in Bolgheri was a rather challenging, warm vintage, especially in the summer, that was however mitigated by good rains in 2019 and some 2020 Spring showers. At neighbouring estate Ornellaia, Director of Winemaking Axel Heinz stated that… “2020 was a great example of the now-unpredictable nature of our (Bolgheri) weather. We had to deal with challenges on various fronts: a spell of high heat and periods of cooler temperatures and rain.” But fortunately the ‘in-bottle’ results from most of the top producers are indeed very impressive, reinforcing how knowledge and expertise can fine tune a challenging vintage.

Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Rosso, 2020, 13.5% Abv.

In a similar vein to Bordeaux’s second wines, the top Rosso second wines from Bolgheri offer impressive depth, opulence, complexity and sensual drinking pleasure, giving the consumer a brief snapshot into the estate’s ‘first wine’ offerings even if the cepage of grapes is sometimes slightly different. Of the big name estates in coastal Tuscany, Il Bruciato has been one of my perennial favourites coming from the beautiful estate of Guado Al Tasso. The 2020 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah is yet another star performer boasting lush aromatic layers of black cherry, piquant black chocolate, smoky black currant with sweet grilled herbs, roasted caramelised almonds, stewed plums and toasty brûléed brown toast nuances. The palate is luxuriously rich and generous with dense sweet silky tannins, a compact core of black berry fruits and savoury meaty graphite hints on the leafy, sappy finish. Drink this on release and over 8 to 10+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Produttori del Barbaresco On Top Of their Game with Two New Releases – Tasting the Langhe Nebbiolo 2021 and Barbaresco 2019…

This famed co-operative in Piedmont dates back to 1894; forced to close in the 1920s because of fascist economic rules, it was regenerated and revived in 1958 by the village priest of Barbaresco who recognized that the only way the small properties could survive long term was by joining forces and combining their efforts.

Today the cooperative is comprised of 50 families and 100+ hectares of solely Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which amounts to almost 1/6th of the vineyards of the appellation. With village Barbaresco and the crus pushing such high prices, attention once again has reverted to some of the great Co-ops who traditionally produce some of the regions best value for money wines. Produttori del Barbaresco’s mission is clear – “Excellence in Simplicity”.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2021, 14% Abv.

An impressively substantial wine yet again from Aldo Vacca and this world famous red wine Co-operative. The wine has a real presence showing complex aromatic layers of wild herbs, dried blood orange, botanicals, vermouth spices over pink musk, red cherry and candied red berry fruits. The palate is sumptuously muscular, plump and fleshy, but beautifully mellow and harmonious with a massive red and black berry fruit concentration, spicy herby tannins and an incredibly bold, vibrant acidity that once again underpins the fabulous depth of fruit and fleshy opulence. This is the real deal, a substantial Nebbiolo that simply sings in the glass. Bravo Aldo! I don’t know how you do it, year in and year out, but the Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2021 is an absolute winner. Drink on release and over 10 to 12 plus years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2019, 14% Abv.

High expectations for this new release coming from such a highly lauded vintage, the 2019 does not disappoint. Bold and punchy from start to finish, the nose boasts a multi-layered melange of lavender, violets, ripe red and black cherries, botte oak spice, potpourri and perfumed bathroom soaps. Seductive and muscular, the palate is as bold as it gets with a rich vein of textured mineral tannins over dense, sweet pithy berry fruits before the finish is overwhelmed by a chalky, spicy, stony minerality. This is a very serious piece of kit with high aspirations and serious intent that is sure to seduce serious Piedmont Nebbiolo collectors.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Wines available to the trade in the UK from Astrum Wines. Langhe Nebbiolo retails for circa £25-£26pb and the Barbaresco for circa £40pb Inc. Vat.

Sassicaia 2019 New Vintage Release Tasting In London…

I have commented before that it’s pure genius that Tenuta San Guido release their new Sassicaia vintage every year along side the next years Guidalberto and Le Difese red blends, enabling tasters to indulge in a unique snapshot of what is in the pipeline for the next Sassicaia release. It builds a full year of excitement and anticipation in the wine trade which counts as priceless promotion in marketing terms!

Priscilla Incisa della Rochetta was due to fly into London recently to present the new 2019 Sassicaia release but was sadly confined to her home office after one of her children tested positive for covid after returning from a family ski break. So, we hooked up by zoom instead and shared Tenuta San Guido’s wonderful new releases together virtually.

Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2020, 14% Abv.

A rather challenging, warm vintage especially in the summer that was mitigated by good rains in 2019 and some 2020 Spring showers. With a broad array of vineyards to select fruit from and a percentage of earlier ripening Sangiovese, the blend was assembled to 55% Sangiovese and 45% for the Cabernet Sauvignon, departing from the usual split of 70-30 Cabernet-Sangiovese.

Bight and richly fruited, there are ample layers of black currant, earthy tobacco spice, sweet black plum and bruleed brown toast notes. But the palate is vibrant and electric, full of energy and fresh acids that bring the black and red berry fruits to life while also adding frame and structure in the mouth. The tannins are wonderfully sleek, fine grained and elegant with a subtle minerality and hints of graphite. A deliciously fresh and refined expression of this earlier drinking cuvée.

(Wine Safari Score: 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2020, 14% Abv.

Slightly higher Merlot component rising from 40% to 50%, with the remainder all Cabernet Sauvignon, sticking with the theme of a higher percentage of the earlier ripening variety than normal. 

Deep and darkly coloured, the aromatics are rich and fruity with opulent savoury aromatic layers of bruleed black currant, creme caramel, cut cedar, sweet tobacco and an exotic dusting of youthful cinnamon spice. The palate is fleshy and opulent with a pronounced sweet and sour tangy acidity, a full sleek mid-palate weight and a long, plumy tobacco spice finish. Harmonious, finely balance and offering a great expectation of drinking pleasure for the next 10 to 15 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2019, 14% Abv. 

The 2019 is a very classic vintage that follows a perfect pattern through all phases of the season. Grapes were healthy and perfectly mature allowing a long hang time for the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon due marked diurnal temperature shifts and a relaxed, gently paced picking window. Great structure, low pHs and a fresh acidity all point to a long ageing potential.

Deep, dark, broody aromatics that are tight and reserved currently, with a traditional blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The aromatics show layers of violets, damson plum, black currant, blood orange, sweet cedar, grilled herbs, oak spice and black currant infused herbal tea nuances. On the palate the density is clear and present, full, opulent and concentrated, gliding over the tongue with great textural weight but also fleshy fruit power, seamless fine grained creamy tannins and all round finesse and majestic balance. Pure class… profound on so many levels and perhaps, along with the 2016 vintage, one of the most attractive Sassicaia releases in the past 20+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Gaja Ca’ Marcanda Bolgheri Estate Releases Some Triumphant 2019 Reds…

As the world gets back to normal after pandemic disruptions, new fine wine releases are also slowly getting back on track and becoming more frequent. Today I was privileged to join one of my favourite wine personalities, Gaia Gaja, for a true celebration of 20 years of Ca’ Marcanda including a tutored tasting and a preview of the fabulous new 2019 releases.

Magari is an Italian expression holding different meanings: “If only it was true…!” or “I wish…!” It is said to carry a sort of irony which usually leads people to smile, and I can tell you this Magari 2019 certainly made me smile with pleasure. Undoubtedly always one of my favourite cuvées in the range that includes the Promis and Ca’ Marcanda flagship Rosso, once again the superb Magari expression delivers something very special indeed.

The entrancing Gaia Gaja resplendent in the London Spring sunshine of Pall Mall.

Made from fruit grown on classic dark Bolgheri soils rich in limestone and clay, the three varieties were fermented and macerated separately for around 15 days before circa 12 months of oak barrel ageing. The maiden release was vintage 2000. Watch out for all the new, incredibly serious but seductive releases from Gaja Ca’ Marcanda Bolgheri.

Ca’ Marcanda Magari 2019, Bolgheri Rosso, 14.5% Abv.

The 2019 Magari is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. Showing taut broody aromatics in its youth, this is a very serious linear Magari that needs coaxing to come out and play. Wonderfully dark fruited with cool limestone minerality, lavender, graphite and subtle oak spice notes, the palate is incredibly fine and polished, super precise and harmonious with a five star balance and intensity. The finish is cool, creamy and beautifully pure with smoky creme de cassis and a pithy black cherry elegance that very slowly melts away on the long, persistent finish. Stern but seductive and very serious! Bravo Gaja! Drink from 2024 to 2044+.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Produttori del Barbaresco Release Their New Langhe Nebbiolo 2020…

This famed co-operative in Piedmont dates back to 1894; forced to close in the 1920s because of fascist economic rules, it was regenerated and revived in 1958 by the village priest of Barbaresco who recognized that the only way the small properties could survive long term was by joining forces and combining their efforts. Today the cooperative has 56 members and 100+ hectares of Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which amounts to almost 1/6th of the vineyards of the appellation.

Their Langhe Nebbiolo in particular has long been one of the greatest and most profound value reds on the international wine market, recognised and lauded unanimously by critics far and wide. With the new 2020 releases, it will of course take some time before a more complete assessment of the vintage can be formed and final conclusions made about the potential quality of the embryonic Barbaresco and Barolo wines in barrel. But like much of Europe, Italy experienced a warmer than average growing season in 2020 which resulted in an earlier than usual harvest. Current evidence suggests that the earlier ripening varieties like Barbera were picked in great health, while the warm days and cool nights proved perfectly suited for the late-ripening Nebbiolo grapes.

Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2020, 14% Abv.

Produttori del Barbaresco makes its Langhe Nebbiolo with declassified Barbaresco fruit (often from parcels on lower slopes) so production volumes are notably reduced in the better vintages when more of the prime fruit finds its way into their delicious village Barbaresco DOCG or indeed one of the classy nine Cru Riservas. This young 2020 Nebbiolo certainly shows great promise with an immediately attractive array of aromatics that boast dark cherry, damson plum, sweet herbs, blood orange and a slight menthol top note. Always wonderfully intense and potent, the palate displays a medium bodied weight of red and black berry fruits, macerated strawberries and sweet cherries with an underlying cool, suave elegance and a fresh acid vitality. The finish is creamy and plush with soft plump tannins, subtle piquant black liquorice notes and a pure, weightless length. Delightfully streamlined and accessible, this 2020 continues a fine run of vintages for Produttori del Barbaresco. Drink from release and over 5 to 8 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese Profiles Some of Their New Releases Ahead of Nebbiolo Day…

One of the oldest and most famous producers in Barbaresco, Giuseppe Cortese makes some of the regions most classically proportioned wines from their eight hectares of vineyards, over four of which are located in the iconic Cru of Rabaja. Producing wines according to traditional methods but using the latest modern winemaking technology, Azienda Agricola Cortese has managed to bridge the gap between high quality and affordability.

With new vintages recently released and on their way to the UK, today I tasted a snap shot of their new wines with one of their main importers, Wood Winters UK.

Giuseppe Cortese Langhe Bianco DOC Scapulin 2019, 12% Abv.

Using spontaneous Chardonnay fermentation in stainless steel before being divided into an amphora, a stainless steel and a large French old oak portion in roughly thirds for 9 to 10 months ageing before being blended. The nose shows hints of flinty stony reduction with almond skins, limestone, white citrus and dried herbs. The palate is sleek, polished and textural with leesy, pithy almond skins, wet river pebble stony nuances and a long, full, smokey finish with just a hint of marzipan. A lovely gastronomic expression of Chardonnay. Drink now to 2028+.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese Morassina Barbera d’Alba 2016, 14.5% Abv.

Aged for 18 months in French oak barriques and large oak casks, the aromatics show lovely pure red and black berry notes with violets, cherry cola, red plums and earthy strawberries. On the palate the vibrancy and freshness shines through with a well balanced, integrated lick of oak, plenty of sweet spices, red liquorice and a fleshy full textured red fruited depth that is creamy and utterly seductive. Impressively balanced and harmonious, this is a whole lot of classy wine for the price.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese DOCG Barbaresco 2018, 14.5% Abv.

Only produced since 2017, this second release shows a lovely translucent garnet ruby colour and an elegantly restrained nose of dried herbs, potpourri, red cherries, cola, blood orange and a hint of melted tar. The palate is cool and supple, texturally creamy and mineral with a lovely full mouthfeel, bright tart cherry acids, sweet red berry fruits and a fine stony mineral red fruited length. Very accessible now but retains enough stony fine grained mineral tannin tension to make this wine age worthy. Drink now to 2030+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Giuseppe Cortese DOCG Barbaresco Rabaja 2018, 14.5% Abv.

The is a darker, broodier expression of Nebbiolo with plenty of black berry fruits, liquorice, tar, sweet truffle oil and tilled earth nuances intertwined with complex cedar spice and sappy sandalwood notes. The palate is bold and powerful with silky but potent mineral tannins, graphite spice, salty black liquorice and a long stony, pithy black cherry finish. A delicious expression that is surprisingly seductive now but will age for a decade or more.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cantina Luigi Pira Releases an Impressive Barolo Cru Margheria 2017 to Defy the Challenges of the Vintage…

After a high quality 2015 vintage that produced ripe, well structured wines, the mesmerising 2016 vintage came along and took the global market for Barolo and Barbaresco by storm. Luscious, powerful and structured but with incredible balance, freshness and intensity, 2016 was certainly a vintage that was not going to be forgotten in a hurry.

With impossible expectations set for the 2017 Barolo releases, this hot, dry and much more challenging vintage was never going to be an easy sell to the mainstream collector market especially after so many customers had dug deep into their pockets to go long on the lauded 2016s. But great wineries are capable of producing accomplished wines even in the tricky vintages especially when the fruit comes from a high class vineyard site like the Cru Margheria in Serralunga.

Cantina Luigi Pira Barolo Margheria 2017, 14.5% Abv.

The Luigi Pira 2017 Barolo Cru Margheria is an exotically perfumed expression from this warmer, dryer vintage showing complex aromatics of purple flowers, violets, pink musk, hints of cherry cola, salty red liquorice, creme de cassis, tart blueberries and melted tar. The tannins are sweet and powdery, fine grained and mouth-coating, balanced by a wonderfully juicy, tangy tart red cherry acidity and a plush textured mineral grip. The 2017 is slightly more accessible and slimline than the block buster 2016 but no less seductive, elegant and alluring. Another very impressive and expressive Cru Barolo from Pira. Drink this now on release and over 10 to 12+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vietti’s New Release Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco 2019 Augurs Well for the New Vintages of Barolo Coming Soon…

The 2019 Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco might be an easy-drinking wine but it shows all the sophistication of Nebbiolo fruit that could easily pass for a village Barolo with grapes often sourced from Cru vineyards such as Fiasco, Bussia, Fossati, Bricco delle Viole and Ravera di Monteforte. Indeed, the name “Perbacco” as the story goes, translates into a somewhat entertaining “golly gosh” or “wow” because that was the reported reaction winemaker Luca Currado’s mother made when she first tasted the wine and was told it was not a Barolo!

The grapes for this wine are grown in various selected vineyards sites mostly in the Barolo area and a minor part in Barbaresco. The vineyard’s soils are made up of mostly marl (limestone in combination with clay) and the alcoholic fermentation generally lasts around three to four weeks at controlled temperatures (28°-32°) with the subsequent malolactic fermentation continuing in stainless steel tanks. Each parcel is processed and aged separately until the components are selected to be included for either the final blend of Perbacco or else left to age an extra two years longer to become DOCG Barolo Castiglione. Total ageing time for Perbacco wine components is approximately 16 to 18 months before bottling.

Vietti Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo 2019, 14% Abv.

Deep, dark and richly coloured, there is every suggestion this is going to be a big old wine! On the nose, the Nebbiolo fruit delivers aromatic layers of ripe sweet red cherries, red liquorice, hints of crème de cassis together with sweet herbal notes of freshly chopped parsley. But it’s on the palate where the true power and pedigree of this wine is revealed, showcasing intense concentrated small berry fruits, delicious purity and intensity, compact concentrated tannin extract and plenty of textured glycerol mouthfeel laced with pithy cherry and peppery spice notes. With quality and intensity like this, you can easily see why the Langhe Nebbiolo denomination is one of the fastest growing wine categories in the entire Piedmont region. Drink now with some rich wintery cuisine or else bury in your cellar for 3 to 5+ more years before revisiting.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)