Tasting the Impressive Bruno Giacosa Nebbiolo d’Alba Vigna Valmaggiore 2013 DOC, 14 Abv…

No doubt about it, 2013 is another very serious year in Piedmont. Whether Barolo or Barbaresco, or indeed further afield, I have tried so many wines over the past year and have tasted very few disappointments. It’s a cracking vintage for Barbera, Dolchetto, and of course Nebbiolo.

Generally speaking, a cool, wet spring delayed the growing season and lowered overall yields. A cool summer ripened the grapes slowly, but in areas where the rain stayed away through autumn, growers could pick ripe, balanced fruit.


This Nebbiolo from Giacosa speaks volumes for the quality of the estate and the vintage. There is such beautifully seductive, lifted, perfume of dried rose petals, violets, potpourri, graphite, aniseed root and black cherry and earthy red fruits. The palate too is dense, sweetly fruited and nuanced with layers of spicy liquorice, pithy red cherry, red apple skins, granitic minerality and a long, kirsch laden finish. I’ve drunk many DOCG Barolos that don’t have either the depth of fruit nor structure of this mere Langhe Nebbiolo. Whatever political problems the Giacosa estate has experienced over the past years, when they get it right, the results are compelling!

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


Tasting the G.D.Vajra Bricco delle Viole Barolo DOCG 2012 with Giuseppe Vajra… 

The Barolo and Barbaresco appellations of Piedmont are riding high on the world stage. Ever since the block-buster 2010 vintage took the region truly mainstream and global, it seems many of the top producers can do no wrong. This week I met up with Giuseppe Vajra to taste the current release 2012 ahead of the imminent 2013 launch.


Bricco delle Viole is a beautiful south-facing promontory in Barolo. Embraced by the Alpine range on the west, at about 400 meters above sea level, it enjoys favourable thermic variations that develop an elegant, perfumed, crystalline style of Barolo and certainly make it one of my favourite sites in most vintages. 


G.D.Vajra Bricco delle Viole Barolo DOCG 2012, 14 Abv. 

The 2012 Barolo Bricco Delle Viole is a dark dense broody wine with perhaps more regional weight of fruit than is typical for this site which normally resembles an ethereal, crystalline red Burgundy. The bouquet is a little fuller and riper with a definite gravitas. The aromatics point to liquorice, tar, musk, rose petals, black cherries and strawberry confit. While the core of fruit is dense and dark, the palate displays a most attractive plush sweet cherry fruit concentration, juicy fresh vibrant acids and fine grained, soft mineral tannins. 2012 is a more tricky vintage in Piedmont but you would be wrong to assume that this means the wines aren’t every bit as drinkable as 2010, 11 or 13. Crack your case now and drink over 8 to 15 years. 

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


Giuseppe Rinaldi Rosae Vini Rosso 2014 ~ Tasting Barolo’s Burgundy Roots…

It’s not a secret that Giuseppe Rinaldi is one of my favourite producers in Piedmont. Making an attractive and distinctive Barolo style, Beppe Rinaldi and his daughter Marta, have focused on retaining the traditions of the past while embracing the excellence and purity of modern Barolo. 


But this modest wine from the Rinaldi range is a first for me. Vino Rosso Rosae 2014 is made from the Ruche variety, supposedly a grape originating in Burgundy, a region very close to Beppe’s own heart. 


Tasting Note: Beautifully bright ruby red with crystal purity. There are multiple complex aromatic layers of spicy, pithy, peppery red fruits, stalk sap, gun smoke, graphite, and red apple skin spice. Such purity and minerality, the palate is elegant and sweet fruited with subtle, classical tart red cherry, raisined cranberries and spicy red plums with sappy, peppery tannins. There is vibrancy and intensity with a lovely natural feel to the wine that finishes with an animated, salty red liquorice and rustic aniseed twist. 

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

Antichi Poderi dei Marchesi di Barolo Barolo 1971 ~ A fine birthday birth year bottle…

The historic Marchesi di Barolo cellars are located in the town of Barolo, in the building overlooking the famous Castle of the Marquis Falletti. It is here that more than 200 years ago the estate’s story began.


Beginning precisely in 1807, in Paris, when the Marquis of Barolo Carlo Tancredi Falletti married Juliette Colbert de Maulévrier, a French noblewoman and the great granddaughter of the Sun King’s well-known Minister of Finance.

Juliette saw the great potential of the wine made in Barolo that, after fermentation and long aging in wood, would reveal all the qualities typical of the soil and of the Nebbiolo grape, with its power, richness, spice and mineral austerity.


Today the Abbona Family continues the work that began more than two centuries ago producing traditional, high quality wines meant for ageing. While not considered an icon estate in Piedmont terms, it is a universally famous winery with good stocks of older bottles still fairly plentiful on the broking market.


Tasting Note: A fine bright rim of garnet red. Nose is beautifully classical showing coffee bean, burnt orange peel, red cherry skins, peppercorns and pot pourri spice. Lovely raw meat savoury notes of blood and iron. Palate is polished and silky, with tannins showing a hint of spicy bite but are generally sweet, suave and resolved. Dipping my nose back into my Zalto glass reveals more gun powder and smokey gravelly notes. The palate continues to sweeten up the more time the wine sits in the glass. I’m looking for that tantalising moment when the wine blossoms, peaks, then starts to recede and fade as it inevitably will. This wine is a tertiary treasure trove of evolving aromas and flavours. Intriguing macadamia nut spice and red cherry notes lead the wine to a savoury, elegant mineral laden grippy finish. A snap shot of history….and my vintage of course. (Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting Note: Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Barbaresco DOP 2013 

The 2013 Sori San Lorenzo has a seductive, alluring dark smokey nose of black cassis, cherry, tar, licorice, exotic spices and a dominant graphite undertone. Fully lush, plush and powerful but with superb elegance, depth, power and textured sweet rounded tannins. This is a monumental wine displaying all the hallmark sweet fleshy generosity of a Costa Russi blended with the taught, linear power of a Sori Tilden. Wow, this is incredibly impressive in its youth, but promises a very very long illustrious future. Possibly the finest young Sori San Lorenzo released to date. Wine Safari Score: 99/100 Greg Sherwood MW (UK Release price £1,695.00 IB per 6 – Sept 2016)

A once in a lifetime fine wine event…

It was never going to be easy deciding what to write about for my first ever ‘fine wine safari’ blog post, but fortunately, the opportunity to attend one of the most anticipated food and wine celebrations of 2016 presented itself… and the rest as they say is history.

On the 8th and 9th of September 2016, a small select group of UK wine trade buyers, journalists and big hitting private clients were invited to Barbaresco, Italy, to join the iconic producer Angelo Gaja and his family, in celebrating their 20 year long relationship with UK importer Armit Wines. I was privileged enough to be invited on this once in a life time experience.

Here are my highlights…

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My vintage and one of the finest wines of the entire trip.
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A name that resonates in the fine wine world.
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Sitting on the top table next to Angelo. A true honour.
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Nebbiolo. The grape that makes it all possible… here in the Costa Russi vineyard.
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The beautifully photogenic Gaia Gaja.
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Rossana Gaja in the Costa Russi vineyard.
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Sunrise over the hills of Serralunga.
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Giovanni Gaja talking viticulture.
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The infamous Barbera vines that used to be included in the Gaja Cru’s until 2012.
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The famed honey bees above the Costa Russi vineyard.
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The chapel in Barbaresco.
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Dusk over Barbaresco.
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The Gaja cellar… one to be envied.
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The Gala celebration dinner.
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Fantastically long aged whites.
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The epic maiden vintage of Gaja’s Gaia & Rey Chardonnay 1983. Fresh as a daisy!
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Two of the Crus of Gaja, Sori Tilden and Costa Russi, and the Barbaresco 2001.
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Barbaresco 1958. Drinking fine wine history. One of the wines of the night with the 1971.
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The 2013 new release Barbaresco DOP Crus. The dawn of a new era at Gaja.
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Name the mystery fine wine buyer… ??
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Trattoria Antica Torre… a favourite of the Gaja family and winery staff.
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Vitello tonnato… to die for.
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Who doesn’t enjoy a wagon wheel of fresh Parmesan?
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Why open one bottle of 1958 Barbaresco when you can have five?!
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Beautifully pure and fragrant Gaia & Rey Chardonnay grappa to end an historic evening.
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A wine selection to die for. Almost certainly never to be matched or repeated anytime soon! With Angelo’s signature of approval….