Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Poderi Gianni Gagliardo

Poderi Gianni Gagliardi may not have a history as long as many Piedmontese wine producers, but Gianni and his three sons are intent on making their mark in the quality-orientated segment of the Piedmontese wine industry.

Having initially set about “rescuing” the indigenous Piedmontese grape variety of Favorita (a grape variety related to but not identical to Vermentino) in the late 1970s, Gianni Gagliardo has since set about making a name for his family when it comes to Nebbiolo too, with 11 separate vineyard plots owned across the Langhe and Roero and four different Barolo produced.

Gianni’s sons have now grown into sizeable roles at the family winery, with Stefano (born in 1974) combining the skills of winemaking and marketing, Alberto (born in 1978) managing the family vineyards and Paolo (born 1986) selling and promoting the family’s wines around the world.

Tastings in late 2013 revealed a range of wines wearing the Poderi Gianni Gagliardo name that were of impressively high quality and individually styled. The family’s “Fallegro” Langhe Favorita is a fascinating insight in to a grape variety that is rarely found today and the Gianni Gagliardo range of Barolo is as stylish as it is well executed.


Summary of Scores (Updated January 2014)  

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
Gianni Gagliardo “Preve” Barolo
 
 
 
 
 
92
Gianni Gagliardo “Serre” Barolo
 
 
 
 
 
91
Gianni Gagliardo Barolo
 
 
 
89
 
 
Gianni Gagliardo “Fallegro” Langhe Favorita
89
 
 
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014

Gianni Gagliardo “Preve” Barolo DOCG (2007)
This “Preve” Barolo is one of four wines produced under the Barolo DOCG classification at the Gianni Gagliardo winery and is one of its “flagship” bottlings. Quite a modern style when tasted, this 2007 “Preve” Barolo is sublimely smooth on the palate, with flavours of both red and black cherries joined by notes of dark chocolate, vanilla and hints of candied citrus peels as the wine develops on the tongue. Aromas of tobacco and chocolate overlay the palate, whilst extended maturation in oak and bottle has resulted in appreciably rounded and approachable tannins. A significant but beautifully integrated streak of acidity lends finesse and drive. The finish is subtle and persistent. 92 points.

Gianni Gagliardo “Serre” Barolo DOCG (2007)
Gianni Gagliardo’s “Serre” Barolo is composed primarily of Nebbiolo grapes harvested from the Castelletto vineyard in the Barolo’s Monforte d’Alba commune, but also draws upon some grapes harvested from other plots in Monforte d’Alba, La Morra, Barolo, and Serralunga d'Alba. A smooth red and black cherry base layer combines with flavours of dark chocolate and plums to produce a compelling (if rather modern) style of Barolo. Additional time in bottle has softened the tannins of this full-bodied Gianni Gagliardo Barolo, with a persistent, underlying acidity both cleansing the finish and promising further maturation potential. 91 points.

Gianni Gagliardo Barolo DOCG (2009)
A garnet colour of moderate intensity in the glass, this 2009 Gianni Gagliardo Barolo is typically fragrant with aromas of rose petals, tobacco and red cherries overlaying a lithe and elegant palate. Underpinned by a plentiful but well judged streak of acidity, the red cherry and raspberry base of this “basic” Gianni Gagliardo Barolo runs smoothly across the tongue, with earthy notes and hints of candied citrus peels appearing from the mid-palate. Drinking well already, this is the sort of Barolo that you should be drinking whilst more extracted examples rest in the cellar. 89 points.

Gianni Gagliardo “Fallegro” Favorita, Langhe DOC (2012)
Gianni Gagliardo has been credited as being one of the people to rescue the Favorita grape from extinction in Piedmont in the late 1970s. Genetically quite closely related to Vermentino, Favorita was once used as a blending partner for Nebbiolo, but Chardonnay and even the Arneis grape variety have proved more popular with producers making varietal wines over the course of the 20th Century. 

Vinified in stainless steel tanks ahead of undergoing full malolactic fermentation, this 2012 “Fallegro” Favorita offers overt aromas of white flowers and lemon zest, before segueing into a fascinatingly crafted palate that combines a slightly oily texture, with intense flavours of white peach, lemon and honeycomb. An unusually hot vintage in Piedmont in 2012 resulted in slightly decreased acidity levels, but here there is just enough acid present in this “Fallegro” Favorita to counter the creaminess brought about by malolactic fermentation. Taking an impressively long period of time to fade, this is a characterful and charming wine. 89 points.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Massolino

Azienda Agricola Vigna Rionda was established in 1896 by Giovanni Massolino and over the 120 years that have passed since then the winery has become known by the Massolino family’s surname rather than its former moniker. Today Franco Massolino is the man at the helm and he became the fourth generation of the Massolino family to run this winery when he took control in 1994. The family’s vineyard holdings currently extend to cover 23 hectares and around 120,000 bottles of wine are produced annually.
 
Based within the commume of Serralunga d’Alba (which produces some of the finest and most age-worthy Barolo in Piedmont) it should perhaps come as no surprise that the Massolino range of wines focuses upon Barolo (with six of the twelve wines produced by the winery coming under this designation), however since Franco Massolino took the helm, the style of the Massolino winery’s Barolo has subtly changed. Today the Massolino range of Barolo exhibits a clever balance of traditional power and a more modern purity of fruit expression.
 
Whilst three of the six Barolo in the Massolino range currently follow the modern fashion for single vineyard wines, both the entry level Massolino Barolo and the two range topping “Vigna Rionda” Barolo are produced using Nebbiolo fruit from several vineyard sites. Maturation of the Massolino winery’s range of Barolo primarily relies upon the traditional larger oak casks, although some smaller “barriques” are used for the maturation of the “Parafada” Barolo.
 
Aside from the Massolino range of Barolo, the Massolino winery also produces Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba and a Langhe Nebbiolo, with Chardonnay and Moscato d’Asti the white wines produced. Unfortunately at this time, only one of two Massolino Barbera d’Alba and the Langhe Nebbiolo are imported to the UK
 
Across the range of Massolino wines tasted by The Independent Wine Review, quality has been uniformly high and the prices (whilst not low) are fair in the context of the wider market and for the level of quality on display.
 
Summary of Scores (Updated March 2013)    
 
 
Vintage
 
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
Massolino “Margheria” Barolo
 
 
 
92
 
Massolino Barolo
 
 
 
90
93
Massolino “Gisep” Barbera d’Alba
 
90
 
 
 
 
Reviews from 2013
 
Massolino “Margheria” Barolo DOCG (2008)
Dry and expressive on the palate (despite this wine’s manful structure and relative youth) Massolino seem to have done a very clever thing with this 2008 “Margheria” Barolo...they’ve created a Barolo that is almost irresistible when young and that will certainly be utterly irresistible when more mature. Savoury red cherries are combined with sweeter candied peel and spice notes to produce a wine in the form of this 2008 “Margheria” Barolo that is both complex and well balanced. The tannins are robust, but don’t over-power and when combined with the considerable acidity of this bottling they suggest significant cellaring potential. 92 points.
 
Massolino Barolo DOCG (2008)
Nominally Massolino’s “entry level” Barolo this bottling is a fantastic style of Barolo to drink in its relative youth. The secret of this wine is in combining a complexity with a surprising degree of approachability. Riper than typical red cherry fruit notes form the basis of an impressively long palate that also offers flavours of raspberry, candied peels and clove. 90 points.
 
Massolino “Gisep” Barbera d’Alba DOC (2010)
An intense ruby red colour in the glass, this 2010 Massolino “Gisep” Barbera d’Alba shows pronounced aromas of dark cherry, cedar and clove. Slightly riper and denser in its fruit than much Barbera from Piedmont, this 2010 “Gisep” Barbera seems likely to benefit from the surge in popularity for richer and riper styles of Barbera in recent years. Not quite as dense and ripe on the palate as the nose would suggest, this is a long and well structured Barbera in the mouth, with dark cherry and plum fruits layered with toasted oak notes and clove spice. The tannin structure is robust, but well integrated and Barbera’s typically high level of acidity sits harmoniously within the palate as a whole. 90 points.
 
Reviews from 2012
 
Massolino Barolo DOCG (2007)
Aromatically pronounced and clearly having developed in oak and bottle, this 2007 Massolino Barolo leads with aromas of red cherry jam, cedar, cloves and tobacco. A touch of candied zest provides further nuance to a bouquet that is already impressively complex. Equally complex on the palate, concentrated and sour red cherry notes are combined with sweet spices, liquorice and dried fruit (raisin and prune) nuances. 93 points.

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Mano

Run by American Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero and founded in the late 1990s, A Mano has now become one of Puglia’s most recognisable wineries. Widely credited with being instrumental in improving the image of Puglian wine outside of Italy, the A Mano winery has no vineyards of its own, yet Mark works throughout the year with a selection of growers whom he pushes to continuously improve quality. With better prices offered to growers produce the best grapes, growers (who previously were perhaps more interested in the quantity of grapes that they could produce rather than the quality of them) soon became much more interested in the quality of their grapes! 

Certified organic, the crop from these vineyards results in a production of more than 300,000 bottles per year.

Seven of the eight wines in the A Mano range are imported to the UK (only the “Promesa” blend of Syrah and Merlot is not currently imported) and across that range there is a pleasing combination of quality and value on display. For example, the winery flagship (the “Prima Mano” Primitivo) offers a genuinely impressive level of accomplishment at a price that is less than the “entry point” wines of some competitors and the “basic” A Mano Primitivo is also exceptionally good for its price.

The sweet Aleatico di Puglia is a great introduction to this historic style of wine, even if this grape will likely divide opinion!
Summary of Scores (Updated 2nd August 2014)          

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
A Mano Rosato
83
 
 
 
 
A Mano Fiano/Greco
84
 
 
 
 
A Mano Negroamaro
 
88
 
 
 
A Mano Primitivo
 
 
89
 
 
A Mano “Prima Mano” Primitivo
 
 
90
 
 
A Mano Aleatico di Puglia
 
 
 
84
 

Reviews from 2013

A Mano Rosato, Puglia IGT (2012)
An unusually intensely coloured rosé (almost grapefruit pink in hue) this 2012 A Mano Rosato is bright and offers pure red fruit aromas on the nose. Raspberry, red cherry and strawberry aromas all burst from the glass. On the palate, it shows an intriguing combination of white and red fruit flavours, with the flavour of ripe nectarine flesh combined with that of raspberry and red cherry fruit flavours. A good level of acidity combines with the spritz of trapped carbon dioxide to offer a lively zest that is thoroughly attractive. 83 points.

A Mano Fiano/Greco, Puglia IGT (2012)
More subtle and nuanced than a number of Fiano blends that this wine was tasted alongside, this A Mano Fiano/Greco is really rather nuanced and carries a nice length. Melon and citrus flavours are carried over from the nose, along with a clear sense of a steely minerality that becomes more prevalent through the mid-palate. A lack of malolactic fermentation and oak means that this Fiano/Greco blend retains a beautiful crispness and freshness as it ends. 84 points.

A Mano Negroamaro, Puglia IGT (2011)
Surprisingly fragrant on the nose, this Negroamaro offers aromas primary aromas of mixed cherry fruit, alongside hints of baked herb and a clear floral note. On the palate, this it offers a good intensity of ripe red and black cherry and damson fruit notes, with dried fruit nuances of prune and those baked herbs notes adding interest and complexity. The acidity level is high (but well integrated) and the overall impression of this 2011 A Mano Negroamaro is one of a wine that is long and supple despite its youthful release. 88 points.

A Mano Primitivo, Puglia IGT (2010)
Ripe, rounded and full bodied on the palate, this A Mano Primitivo is typical of high quality Puglian Primitivo. Bright cherry fruits are joined by the richer damson and prune notes (also evident on the nose) with clove spice and a hint of slightly toasted cedar also appearing. Impressively long (especially for a wine available at such a reasonable price), this Primitivo lingers with well resolved tannins and a good level of cleansing acidity. 89 points.

A Mano “Prima Mano” Primtivo, Puglia IGT (2010)
Full-bodied and smooth in the mouth, this 2010 A Mano “Prima Mano” Primitivo offers an excellent depth of ripe dark fruit flavours. Pleasingly linear and nuanced there is an impressive length, that is paired with a well retained level of acidity (that keeps the finish clean). 90 points.

A Mano Aleatico di Puglia DOC (2009)
A fairly deep ruby red in colour, this A Mano Aleatico offers fragrant and open aromas of potpourri and mixed cherry fruit, with a little sweet spice also in evidence. Believed to be genetically related to the Muscat grape, the almost grapey and floral aroma of this Aleatico certainly suggests this to be true. Perhaps not as lusciously sweet as some might expect given the eight weeks of drying time employed, this bottling contains around 70 grams/litre of residual sugar and provides straightforward sweet cherry flavours (along with Aleatico’s typical and slightly bitter extract towards the finish). 84 points.