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Luciano Sandrone Barolo ‘Vite Talin’ 2016
Just when we thought Luciano Sandrone might have been ready to put his feet up and enjoy a much-deserved retirement, he astounded us (and the rest of the wine world) in late 2019, with the release of a new wine that has the potential to redefine his eponymous estate, a wine that may have created a world-first by getting two 100-pointreviews from key critics (Antonio Galloni and Monica Larner) on its first release (the 2013 vintage).
In 1987, Luciano noticed one vine in his rented plot of Le Coste, Barolo, was behaving in a very surprising manner, producing much smaller bunches and berries and growing leaves with a different morphology. Growers have long associated smaller berries andbunches with higher quality (remembering also that Nebbiolo typically has the opposite problem) and so Luciano was very interested in what he had stumbled upon.
He took cuttings and planted them in several different places to see if they would behavethe same way. They did, and so in 1991, Luciano and his brother (vineyard manager Luca Sandrone) began planting out cuttings taken from these vines in two Crus: Drucà and Rivassi. Later, Sandrone acquired the original parcel of Le Coste and planted it out with this cultivar—so there are three tiny sites today.
In 2017, when the vines were finally able to be verified by DNA testing, it was discovered the vines were indeed Nebbiolo, but a unique strain that had never been identified before. The Sandrone family have named it Vite Talin—‘the vine of Talin’ (Talin being the name of the grower who originally owned the vineyard). Today there are 8,000 vines in production, only leading to around 2,000 bottles of wine.
Luciano Sandrone Barolo ‘Aleste’ 2018
Sandrone’s flagship Barolo is 100% Cannubi Boschis—the Barolo vineyard so synonymous with this grower. The Boschis subzone sits near the northern end of theCannubi hill, directly across from the Sandrone cellars. The Cru (of which Sandrone farms 1.9 hectares of 39-year-old vines), has a particularly good exposure to the south and southeast, in a small amphitheatre that helps hold warmth in the early morning. Its soils are sea deposits of calcareous clay with some sand and therefore have excellent drainage.
The Cannubi slope is complex, with soil variation, many different aspects and variation in altitude. “It looks like a sleeping dragon,” says Barbara Sandrone, describing the way the ridge snakes across the landscape. Highlighting the uniqueness of the wines from this terroir compared to the rest of the Cannubi hill,. The winemaking is similar to that of theBarolo Le Vigne, although here, the juice spends a longer time on skins (up to two months).
Luciano Sandrone Barolo ‘Le Vigne’ 2018
A blend of several small parcels of vines from a number of communes, Le Vigne is Luciano Sandrone’s ode to traditional blended Barolo. All the sites that contribute to 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: Barolo (Vignane),Serralunga (Baudana), Novello (Merli) and Villero in Castiglione Falletto.
Regarding the winemaking, the fruit is mostly destemmed with a very high percentage of whole berries and around a quarter whole-bunch. Wild yeast fermentation begins in tank before the malo and aging occurs in mostly used, 500-litre French oak casks. Times on skins varies between tank, from 10 days up to onemonth. The 2018 was bottled unfiltered after 18 months in cask and allowed to rest in bottle for a further 18 months before release.
Luciano Sandrone Dolcetto d’Alba 2021
This wine’s purity, fine tannins, texture and freshness are a product of the four highaltitude, vineyards from which it derives. From estate vineyards in Monforte d’Alba, Sandrone draws from Castelletto and Cascina Pe Mol. The latter sits at the top of the ridge leading from Monforte d’Alba to the hamlet of Perno and is among the highest vineyards in the region. In Novello, the fruit comes from Rocche di San Nicola and the whitish marls of Ravera, where the easterly exposure contributesperfume and aromatic complexity. Joining these sites now is fruit from Rivassi and Crosia in Barolo. The wine is made with only natural yeasts, and each parcel is vinified separately before blending.
Luciano Sandrone Barbera d’Alba 2020
Sandrone’s layered and polished Barbera is drawn from four sites: Cascina Pe Mol, (mentioned above); Ravera and Rocche di San Nicola (in Novello); and Albarella (in Barolo). At between 350 and 450 metres, these are some of the highest, most exposed vineyards in the region. As per the Dolcetto, Sandrone runs some of
the region’s finest sites for this variety and does so organically (in fact all of the vineyards of Sandrone are managed organically by the talented Luca Sandrone). Rocche di SanNicola is an extremely steep vineyard at the very end of the Novello promontory, its sun-trapping location helping to deliver ripeness and texture to balance Barbera’s natural acidity. To bring the structure for which this wine is noted, Sandrone mature the Barbera in 500-litre tonneaux, 25% of which are new.
Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba ‘Valmaggiore’ 2020
The Sandrone family farms a continuous, three-hectare vineyard in the Valmaggiore area of the Roero which they planted in the early 1990s. Now that Roero is rising in prominence, we can start to truly recognise what a pioneer Luciano Sandrone has been in the region. At a time when nobody was talking about this area, Luciano recognised itspotential (having worked with parcels of fruit during his time as cellarmaster of Marchesi di Barolo).
Valmaggiore is planted to 8,000 vines per hectare over the precipitous site (50% gradient in places). The soil here is almost entirely of pure sand from shallow sea and beach deposits, littered with fossilised crustaceans. This soil gifts a remarkably perfumed and elegant expression of Nebbiolo, completely different from the more powerful style of wine produced in the clay-rich soils of Barolo and Barbaresco. Thevineyard is farmed meticulously and requires strict sorting to reach the level of purity and intensity we see in the wine today. The wine is fermented and aged for up to 12 months in old French demi-muids.
Perlage Canah Brut Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene NV