piemonte-wines.com is a specialist importer of wines from the north-west Italian region of Piedmont. The world famous appellations like Barolo and Barbaresco are all present and correct in their portfolio, but so too are plenty of interesting, handpicked wines from artisan growers representing more rarely seen appellations and wine styles. The company is run by Noel and Tricia Desnos (right), fanatics for the region who say that they have put together a portfolio of growers that share their approach and genuine passion for their vineyards. Their newly revamped web site at piemonte-wines.com has video introductions from each of their growers, and the growers themselves describe each wine for sale via short video interviews. It is a novel approach that certainly helps bring character to each producer and each wine. To celebrate the launch of their new web site and online store, Piemonte Wines sent me this small selection of samples to try for myself.
SA.PE.RI., Moscato d’Asti 2010, Italy
SA.PE.RI is made up of three growers, Flavio SAglietti, Fabio PEzzuto and Bruno RIvetti. This is an absolutely delightful expression of one of my favourite wine styles, the delicate, peach and blossom scented Moscatos of d’Asti. With only 5% alcohol and the gentlest of fizzes, this particular example is amongst the more discreet and lacy I have come across, with such refined flavours, gossamer texture and fine balance between the buoyant fruit sweetness and its flashing acidity. 88/100. £13.19, piemonte-wines.com.
Adriano Vini, Langhe Sauvignon ‘Basarico’ 2010, Italy
It’s a Sauvignon Blanc, but coming from the Langhe region that makes it a relatively rare beast. The nose has a herbal influence (the wine’s name, Basarico, means ‘basil’ in local dialect) as well as fresh lemon and apple peel, suggesting a bit of weight and richness. It’s a Sauvignon more akin to Sancerre than Marlborough in style, though in the mouth the fruit is sweet and full, really filling the mouth with texture. With very good acidity in the finish and that fruit-filled mid-palate, a lovely food wine and a nice to try something a little bit different. A Wine of the Week recently, see my full video review. 89/100. £13.48, piemonte-wines.com.
Conti di Roero, Langhe Favorita 2010, Italy
Favorita is the indigenous grape variety, and one we see rarely on labels. Widely believed to be related to Vermentino, plantings have been declining even in its stronghold of Roero, in favour of Arneis and some international varieties. It has a delicate, blossom, lemon and mineral nose, all very discreet and refined. On the palate there’s a delicious apple crunch and crispness, the wine showing plenty of racy citrus acidity, light- to medium-body (with only 12.5% alcohol) and a nicely fresh and fruity finish. 87/100. £11.66, piemonte-wines.com.
Conti di Roero, Nebbiolo d’Alba 2008, Italy
Nebbiolo, the great grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, grown here in the Roero region – most often associated on our wine shelves with the white Arneis grape. Made from 15-year-old vines, the wine spends one year in barrels, though I suspect this is bigger and older oak, as the nose reveals little woodiness, instead having a fleshy, earthy and dried-blood intensity, with a touch of cedar and spice, hints of floral notes, and dark plummy fruit. On the palate there’s a savoury edge to this, the cedary spice again, but fresh plum and cherry fruit is delicate and tangy. Chewy but softening tannins and a touch of maturity make it easy to drink. 89/100. £15.48, piemonte-wines.com.
Saperi, Barolo 2004, Italy
Made from old vines (some 50 years old) grown at around 350 metres altitude, this is aged in small barrels, but those are second fill, so its effect on the nose is to add a savoury, cedary touch to the sinewy, graphite and cherry fruit. It is not so seductively perfumed as the Palladino below, but nuances of game and something floral are in there, and it has a sense of structure and seriousness about it. On the palate its authority is obvious: it’s a very dry wine, all dry tannins and concentration, but it has a leanness and a gravel and spice savouriness at its core. The acidity is lovely – a fresh bit of cherry skin – and the long, spicy finish is both harmonious and intense. 91/100. £29.99, piemonte-wines.com.
Palladino, Barolo Riserva San Bernardo 2005, Italy
What an alluring nose, brimming with gamy and perfumed scents mingling roses, dried blood and tobacco, a briary note and touch of iron giving a bit of serious character too. In the mouth it is equally complex and pleasurable: there’s a sweet, concentrated fruit richness at the core of this, of black cherry and intense raspberry compote, but the gravelly, dusty tannins, support of nicely judged oak (this spends two years in French oak barriques) and plenty of sour cherry acidity gives lovely food-matching structure too. Fairly lean in the finish, but that adds to the feeling of precision. 91/100. £44.99, piemonte-wines.com.