Cascina Disa, Monforte d’Alba, Peimonte, Italy
Winery: In view of the Swiss Alps from the cool Piedmont region of northwest Italy, the Sandri family farms this foggy area of steep hillside vineyards, east of Barolo in the hamlet of Monforte d’Alba. Grapes have been grown there for millennia, and since the late 1800s by the Sandri family. Originally selling their grapes to other wineries, Elio Sandri decided to keep all fruit for bottling his own wines, amounting to a tiny annual production of 2,000 cases of Barolo, out of the 330,000 cases (.25%) of Barolo produced annually. A Traditionalist in winemaking and growing, the house style rewards bottle age, and is released later than most in the area. Recently discovered by Antonio Galloni, the wines are now harder to get and more expensive with each release, exacerbated by increased freight costs.
Winemaking: Unmoved by New World stylistic influences, traditionalist Elio Sandri makes wine with minimal intervention, believing the natural process best reflects their unique terroir. Grapes are hand-picked at night, native-yeast fermented slowly and gently over months in the cold underground cellar, minimizing extraction first in Stainless tanks, then in concrete tanks before aging in neutral wooden Botte tanks using no new oak. While the Barolo is whole-cluster fermented, Sandri’s only modern winemaking acquiescence is to destem the Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. The very limited Barolos are fermented directly in decades-old wood Botte tanks, then bottle aged for many years, exceeding the 3 year bottle age requirement for Barolo.
Vineyards: Sandri’s entire vineyard is in the Barolo Zone on a steep, cooler east-facing Perno hillside, opposite Gaja’s Barolo on the warmer West-facing Sierra Langhe. His cooler hillside means later harvesting at lower brix than at Gaja’s warmer site. A non-interventionist, he uses Certified Organic Farming, and no sprays and no plowing (the hillside is too steep for a tractor). Varying wild herbs grow between rows in different parcels, creating aromatics that add complexity to wines from each parcel. He thins the crop in the spring (not at veraison), removing the larger flowers and leaving what will become smaller clusters. Vines are super-tightly spaced at .7 meters apart, comprising 60 kilometers of linear vine rows. Traditional trellising gives him leaf canopy adjustments for the cool and often foggy setting, and pruned to one cluster per shoot.
Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC 2018, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri
Sandri pulled out Nebbiolo to instead plant 1200 tightly-spaced Barbera vines, perhaps the only Barbera grown in the Barolo Zone, on iron-laden, nutrient-poor soils near the top of their steeply sloping, Perno hill, in this cool, slower ripening, lower-sugars site. A sophisticated, intense style of Barbera built with substance, offering soft blackberries, floral notes, clove, mineral and earth with dark plum fruit and coffee. Made with no new oak.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2019, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri NEW!
92 Points, Galloni: “Silky, perfumed and super-expressive. This super-classic, saline Langhe Nebbiolo is full of character. I would cellar for a year or two. This is such a gorgeous wine.” Grown in his Barolo Zone vineyards. Named “Nebbiolo” for the cool autumn fog (or nebbia) and late ripening. 38 year-old vines cling to a steep-sloping, northeast-facing Langhe hillside producing small clusters. 400 six-packs for the U.S.
Dolcetto d’Alba 2019, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri Just Arrived! LIMITED
A rare Dolcetto grown in the Barolo Zone, with 50 cases made and only 60 bottes for California. Aromas of blackberry preserves, sweet herbs, mint, lavender, and floral undergrowth. On the palate, lean textures, vibrant acidity, tart blackberry fruit and inner floral tones finishing full and zesty. A pure style of Dolcetto. Destemmed, stainless fermented, aged in old Slovenian barrels. 12.5% alcohol. Only 10 six-bottle cases for CA, 30 for entire US.
Barolo Perno DOCG 2016, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri Coming Soon 96 Points, WE ALLOCATED
96 Points, Wine Enthusiast: “Full of personality and finesses, this earthy gorgeous red has aromas of red cherry, forest floor and black olive. Structured and loaded with personality the delicious palate doles out layers of crushed raspberry, truffle and licorice before a savory saline finish. Firm, refined tannins and fresh acidity keep it well balanced.”
Barolo Perno DOCG 2015, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri LIMITED
94 Points, Galloni: “The sort of wine you want to open and spend many hours with. Over time the 2015 starts to come together. Scents of tobacco, cedar, dried cherry, mint and leather open gradually. A Barolo of beguiling complexity and nuance that will give everything on its own time schedule. 2023-2040.” Up to 50 year-old vines downslope from the Riserva on the same Perno hill. Neutral oak-aged (no new oak). Best when splash decanted.
Barolo Perno DOCG 2014, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri LIMITED
93 Points, Galloni: “Gorgeous. The only Barolo Sandri bottled in 2014, so all of the best fruit is in this bottling. Dark cherry, leather, smoke, savory herbs, licorice and dried flowers give it complexity and overall nuance. A powerful, savory Barolo with quite a bit of nuance and character.” Includes all fruit usually be selected for the Riserva, making this a superb non-Riserva level Barolo. More forward than the typical Riserva. No new oak).
Barolo Perno DOCG 2012, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri LIMITED
This 100% Barolo Zone Nebbiolo grows on poor soils, vines up to 50 years-old, downslope from the Riserva on the same northeast-facing Perno hill. More forward than the Riserva, it is structured, intense and age-worthy with dark cherry, chocolate, leather and licorice. Neutral oak (no new oak) gives an ethereal and intense bouquet, with spiced fruits and minerality. Best after a quick splash decant. Unfined, unfiltered. 600 six-packs produced.
Barolo Riserva Perno DOCG 2015, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri ALLOCATED!!!
96 Points, Antonio Galloni “What a wine! Everything Barolo can be, should be. The bouquet alone is mesmerizing. Coffee, tobacco, spice, menthol, licorice and leather open with coaxing. Offers unreal complexity and old-school personality. I would not be in any rush here.” From oldest mid-slope vines with lowest yields, in his cool, northeast-facing Barolo Zone parcel on Perno Hill. Opens with a splash decant. Unfined, unfiltered. No new oak.
** International Freight Disclaimer ** Pricing is subject to sudden change due to the volatility of international freight delays and costs **