Piedmont – December 2014

Reviewed: 14th December 2014

I recently attended a tasting hosted by Maurizio Ugge from Arquilla, an importer of a large variety of Italian wines. The focus was specifically on the wines of Piedmont and included wines from several highly regarded producers.

Whilst there were decent Dolcettos and Barberas on show, it was the wines made from Nebbiolo from the regions of Barbaresco and Barolo that were the main feature.

Due to the sheer number of wines and the limited time available, my notes are somewhat brief and represent my first impressions. Also, as this was not a masked tasting, my points are best used as a rough guide only.

If only they were a bit cheaper….


Elio Altare – Barbera d’Alba – 2012 (17.2). A lovely blend of ripe, succulent fruit and savoury, earthy, almost tar-like complexity. The palate is long and has surprising depth/density. An excellent wine.

Domenico Clerico – Barbera d’Alba – 2011 (17+). Opens with sweet ripe fruit, but the tannins really kick in on the mid-palate and continue to the close. The fruit is actually quite long and persistent and should become more expressive with a year or two in bottle. If you like a big red, this is a really interesting alternative and worth a look.

Pio Cesare – Barbera d’Alba – Fides – 2011 (17). A lovely blend of sweet fruit and savoury highlights on the nose. The palate is a standout. There is real depth to the high-quality fruit. The mouth-feel and texture are superb. A very good wine that has been expensively made (the oak is more apparent here, but not out of balance).

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Lange – Capisme-E – 2012 (17). I like this wine for its approachability. Savoury, drying and fine, yet with depth and subtle power sitting underneath. Not overly long or complex, but an excellent drink.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Langhe – Il Nebbio – 2011 (17.3). Light and fresh, with textbook tannins. The fruit here gets quite floral and pretty. An excellent pinot alternative.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – 2009 (18). A real step up in terms of both fruit depth, as well as texture, mouth-feel and length. I really like the finish here which is feminine and seductive, yet focussed and fine. Savoury, textured and chewy tannins fit the bill. The fruit really builds and gets quite serious to close. Now, but also in 10+ years

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – 2010 (18). This is tighter and less giving than the 2009. Savoury, structured, long and tight, the tannins get all chewy on the close. Needs time, but will reward.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Bricco Di Tresio – Vendemmia – 2009 (18). Savoury, structured and tight, yet there is a real prettiness in the fruit. The palate is only mid-weight, with very fine tannins and silky oak. The finish is fine and long, the super-fine tannins making this an accessible drink now, but also ensuring longevity.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Bricco Di tresio – Vendemmia – 2010 (18+). Mirrors the straight Barbaresco but this is just so much finer. Again the oak and tannins are silky and fine, caressing the palate, yet allowing the fruit to sing. The mouth-feel is a highlight, though this is structured and tight. Will age well.

Marchesi Di Gresy – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Martinenga -2010 (18.4). This is amazingly feminine, silky and fine! For a variety known for its tannins and power, this is a revelation. That said, the fruit is superb, yet it is wrapped in a cloak of silk gauze that holds it in check, allowing glimpses of potential to show through. Superb!

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ornato – 2009 (18.4). This is clearly different to the wines from Barbaresco. More overt power to the fruit and very fine tannins that slowly build to the point that they close down the wine on the finish. Powerful and impressive, yet still balanced and possessing great length. A wine that can be drunk now with pleasure, but will certainly benefit from 10 – 15 years in the cellar. From the Seralunga sub-district.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ornato – 2010 (18.6). More structure and power, yet this is less accessible than the 2009. Amazing fruit, yet the tight, chewy structure shuts down the palate. Needs 10 years, but would be better with 20. Super stuff!

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – 2010 (18.3). Closed, dense and structured. Classic Barolo, with the chewy tannins preventing the fruit from showing its best now. Not quite as dense as the Ornato, but will be ready sooner. A complex, multifaceted wine.

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ciabot Mentin – 2010 (18.8). Whilst this is still a savoury wine, the intensity and concentration of the fruit here is amazing. The pristine fruit tends towards the classic rose petal and tar characters. The tannins are prodigious, yet the fruit soaks them up, finishing with souring cherry-like acidity. A spectacular wine!

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Pajana – 2010 (18.5). Really savoury, with tar and earthy notes on the nose. The fruit on the palate is, again, outstanding. The mouth-feel and structure spot on. The fruit is not as dense as the Ciabot Mentin, but this makes it so much more approachable.