Piedmont tourette, 28-30 April, 2024

A couple more from il centro, their hotel is very nice too.
Loved our dinner at Il Centro back in 2014, particularly some wonderfully uncomplicated and flavorsome primi and secondi, more in keeping with the dining room’s old-fashioned feel: tajarin with slivers of onion and zucchini in a slightly tomatoey sauce; very thick slices of fried porcini, simply served on a piece of brown paper; boiled tongue, perfectly cooked, served with a soffrito-like relish incorporating red and yellow peppers.
Gianluca Colombo is a bit of a star. Opinionated, passionate, charming and a very good winemaker. We spent a very entertaining and interesting few hours with him and his wines. We discussed wine prices, winemaker’s egos, Giacosa red label being the gold standard and I think I touched a nerve when I asked about diam corks after one of the bottles we had was corked. He doesn’t like them! The winery is biodynamic and he doesn’t want anything unnatural involved in his wines. The little piece of bark with the corks punched out was something I’d not seen before and I hadn’t realised this is how the corks were punched out.

The range of wines is brilliant and much as liked the 22 pinot noir (30% whole bunch which reduced the alcohol from a potential 13% to 12%, Claire Naudin gave him advice on whole bunch fermentation) and 23 Pelaverga, the 20 Barolo and 22 single vineyard Meretta Langhe Nebbiolo were my favourites.

He has rented vines in Roche Castiglione which he says is his dream cru and the first vintage will be 2023. I’ll be looking out for it!

I think others have said with natural cork you can get mature wines that are 10 out 10. Unfortunately, they can also be 1/10 and everything in between. Diam gives 7/10 consistently, you don’t get the highs and lows.
Corks are so frustrating. I think I’d rather have diam and the consistency and would sacrifice the odd perfect bottle as an acceptable cost of not having any undrinkable ones.
Also visited Marcarini, Fratelli Alessandria, Trediberri and Marchesi di Gresy.

I think Marcarini are a bit overlooked and underrated. Their wines are maybe not in the absolute top flight but they’re well made and well priced. The 2020 Commune della Morra is a lovely entry level Barolo, generous fruit, some exotic spices and a touch of tangerine.
It was good to compare the 20 La Serra and 19 Brunate. The Serra was more elegant and a bit leaner than the Brunate which was fuller, more concentrated and mineral. I preferred the Brunate.
I thought the tannin more noticeable on the La Serra and felt it as a bit drying on the finish. The sweeter fruit on the Brunate meant I didn’t feel the tannins so much but they were there, fine and upfront. Our host found the Brunate much more tannic and said people’s perception of tannin varied widely, with some in line with me and others with her.

Fratelli Alessandria was a highlight and Vittore an excellent host. We were there with wine legend Roy Richards of Richards Walford fame!
The wines here strike a nice balance and have enough generous fruit to make them approachable in their youth but are elegant with a firm structure for successful ageing. Highlights for me were the 2020 Verduno Barolos: Commune, San Lorenzo and Monvigliero. Preferred these to the Gramolere. They bought a new destalker (the dream machine!) for the 2019 vintage and apparently this has moved things up a level.
Many thanks to DBG Italia for making this visit possible.

Trediberri are a bit more towards the fruity and approachable side of the balance spectrum but still retain a lightness of touch and elegance. The Rocche del Annunziata is special.
They prefer cement for the fermentation and only use steel if they have run out of room in the cement tanks. They are starting to experiment with whole bunch, up to 30% depending on vintage, to add freshness. Submerged cap experiments too, again depending on vintage. Aging for the Barolos is typically 2 years in big old barrels and then is few months in concrete prior to bottling.

It was good to see Jeff at Marchesi after a 10 year gap. The wines were plusher, glossier and riper than I remember, especially the Camp Gros and Gaiun 2018s. I think I preferred the regular Martignegna but maybe time will change things as the single vineyard wines mellow and mature.