Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d'Alba Valmaggiore 2018
Luciano Sandrone is one of the most iconic producers in Barolo, with an extraordinary story. In the bottle, Sandrone’s wines straddle the modern and traditional styles of the region: elegant, attractive and easy to appreciate in their youth, but with no less power and structure over time than traditional Barolos. Luciano started to learn viticulture at the age of 14 or 15, and after years of work as a cellarman he depleted his life savings and purchased his first vineyard on the Cannubi hill in 1977, though he could only manage his land on the weekends while he continued to work outside of the vineyard. He made his first vintage in 1978, in the garage of his parents, and then spent years refining his ideas about how to make a wine of distinction and utmost quality that respected the traditions of Barolo while incorporating new ideas and understanding about viticulture and vinification. He made every vintage until 1999 at home, until the winery he constructed in 1998 was ready for use.
The new winery, built at the foot of the steep Cannubi hillside in the heart of the Barolo district, is characterized by the respect for tradition and desire for innovation that also define Sandrone wines. Luciano has devoted every fiber of his being towards cultivating the finest Nebbiolo expressions from his sites in Barolo and the Roero, and transmitting these expressions through his wines. Along with the extremely low yields in the vineyard and an obsessive attention to training, pruning and harvesting, Sandrone has a very rational approach in the cellar. This approach, however, is also unique and outside of simple classification: Sandrone subjects his wines to medium-length maceration period, shorter than traditional, but makes limited use of new oak in the maturation process, which takes place in 500 liter tonneaux, all signs of a more traditional approach in the cellar. The entire range of wines, all limited in production, are jewels of impeccably balanced concentration and precision, and the ability to age for long periods of time.
Valmaggiore is the product of Luciano’s incredible passion for the Nebbiolo grape variety and the desire to show just how its expression can vary depending on the soil in which it is cultivated. Just 15 miles away from Barolo, in the Roero region, Nebbiolo produces a lighter structure and ripe, smooth tannins that are not unlike those of Pinot Noir. The wine drinks well from about age 6 to 12 but will easily last longer in the best vintages. This is not a “baby Barolo” or a second wine at all – it is a distinct interpretation of a completely different geographic winemaking zone. The wine shows delicious floral elements and red fruits, wrapped around a medium-weight structure with a long, delicious finish and modulated, ripe tannins.
The Valmaggiore Nebbiolo d'Alba is a wine of penetrating intensity and balanced, mid-weight structure. The cooler conditions of the 2018 vintage provided a focused red fruit nose with notes of licorice, hibiscus and wet stones. On the palate, the wine evokes raspberry and cherry fruit, wisps of spice and rose petals, held together by a middle weight structure of sweet tannins and fresh acidity. The finish has mineral notes to go with the ripe fruit.
|Region||Italy, Piedmont, Nebbiolo d'Alba|
Wine AdvocateThe Luciano Sandrone 2018 Nebbiolo d'Alba Valmaggiore shows a very fruity, fresh and accessible side of the Nebbiolo grape. This wine is open-knit and inviting with a steady succession of aromas that range from red cherry and plum to rosemary sprig and crushed mineral. On some level, you could call it Barolo Lite, although that does not do justice to the Valmaggiore vineyard in Roero that outperforms year after year. The wine is Barolo-adjacent for sure, but it offers its own bright and distinct personality. It's an exciting, new generation of Nebbiolo.