2019 Ugo Lequio Barbaresco Gallina


Current stock: 4

If you’ve ever driven from the town of

Barbaresco to the neighboring hilltop town of Neive, you’ve most likely driven down the hill and turned right on the Tanaro road. As you head towards Neive and look to the immediate left side of your car, you might have noticed the steep slope of gorgeous vines running up from the road toward an old building sitting just outside the wall of the village above. If you’ve ever stopped and looked closer, you might have seen the little blue and white sign indicating that you’re in the ‘Borgata Gallina.’ Along that slope, if you know where to look, you’ll see parcels of Nebbiolo vines belonging to the likes of the Oddero family, Giorgio Rivetti, Piero Busso and others. Those really old vines, though, those south-facing ones near the house (called Cascina Nuova) that dominate the widest section of the hill, belong to the far smaller but equally important Barbaresco producer Ugo Lequio, an, as yet, undiscovered treasure. Ugo got his start in the early 1980s and has been content since then to produce wine only from those vines, the oldest planted in 1953 and the youngest 1971. He makes only a bit of Barbera and Dolcetto and, most importantly, an impressive Barbaresco, a wine considered among cognoscenti to be the top wine made from the vineyard. A firm believer in quality over quantity and for practicing only the most traditional of winemaking practices, Ugo is also a proponent of long cellaring in the cellar, believing that the extra time is required to bring his wines around and resolve Gallina’s often hefty tannins. While the current available vintage of Barbaresco is 2020 or even, later this spring, 2021, Ugo only now has his 2019 on the market. A Gallina Barbaresco will usually have a rounder, more textural mouthfeel than a lot of others Barbarescos, and, often, a pronounced floral side that lends a touch of lacy elegance to the wine. Ugo’s, while more on the elemental and rustic side than velvety and polished, are textbook wines from Gallina. The 8000-bottle production of 2019, coming from a warmer, powerful vintage, has plenty of gorgeous fruit to go along with that pretty essence of what I call ‘violet pastille’ and that nice bit of complexing pipe tobacco, mineral and freshly-turned loam. On the palate, Ugo’s 2019 is ultra-svelte with a rich texture that seems both weighty and highly structured yet somehow elegant at the same time. Man, I love Barbaresco like this- pure, flavorful and extremely nuanced: Not as burly as Barolo but no less compelling. The 2019 might seem ready to go now if you open a bottle but that twinge of unresolved tannin and rustic acidity at the backend tells me this has a long life ahead of it too. That was 8000 bottles, not cases. Bravo.

Wine Advocate: The 2019 Barbaresco Gallina is a sharp and angular wine with a prominent vein of minerality with crushed limestone and metallic rust that frame dried cherry and redcurrant. These various aromas, both the savory and the sweet, find good balance. The Gallina shows a little more heft and natural fruit concentration in the 2019 growing season. 94 points