2015 Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo ‘Ester Canale Rosso’
This is the story of a hallowed piece of ground- one of the most venerated pieces of earth in all of winedom- the roughly 25 acres of Serralunga d’Alba’s Vignarionda. Vignarionda, since the 2010 vintage, is the official name for what has been called over the years, among many other things ‘Rionda,’ Vigna Rionda’ and ‘Collina Rionda.’ Its legendary infertility, white powdery soils and struggling Nebbiolo vines have, over the decades, produced some of the most individual and long-lived wines in all of Barolo, if not the rest of the world. Often bottled as a Barolo Riserva because of its propensity to age (The Odderos, for example, bottle, theirs as a 10-year Riserva), the wines of Vignarionda epitomize the graceful austerity for which Serralunga Barolo is so famous. Ownership of a row or two of vines in Vignarionda is the good fortune of a privileged few, and a parcel, no matter how small, is a coveted legacy for the families that farm them. The Canale family purchased their parcel in 1934 and sold the Nebbiolo grapes they farmed until financial woes forced the parcel out of their hands in the early 1990s. Over the years, the majority of that fruit went to Bruno Giacosa who bottled it, between 1967 and 1993, as the legendary Barolo Collina Rionda, still one of the rarest and most-sought Barolos ever produced. In one of those twists of family politics, inheritance rules and who-knows-what-else, the very same parcel has found its way back to the Canales and, by extension, the Giovanni Rosso branch of the family. The Canale-Rosso clan has, for the past decade, been under the inspired guidance of Davide Rosso, a superb winemaker who has taken the family business into a true place of prominence. It was Davide’s mother, Ester, though, who convinced him to keep aside a parcel of the youngest vines in their parcel of Vignarionda, now 15 years old, and honor his maternal side by creating a singular cuvee to show off the power and grace for which this vineyard is famous. While Davide does, indeed, produce a $400 Vignarionda Barolo, it’s this inaugural vintage of Langhe Nebbiolo that best (and far more affordably) shines the light into the soul of this incredible piece of land. Made to the same exacting (if you know Davide, you know they are very exacting) protocols as his Barolo, this is simply a gorgeous wine that exudes Rionda’s sun-spangled blackberry, scorched earth, black licorice, chocolate covered blueberry, camphor, rose petal and seed spice characters and promises many happy years of drinking, from now (decanted!) or over the next decade. The 3000-ish bottles of this wine is the first-ever vintage and Davide thinks, once the vineyard has had enough time to mature, it will be bottled as a Vignarionda Barolo in its own right. Better to get it now!
Very highly recommended.