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. Cascina (farmhouse) Disa dates back to the local winemaking monastery in the early 1400s. A Traditionalist in winemaking and growing, the house style rewards bottle age, and is released later than most in the area. Made popular in the US by recent publicity surrounding actor Matt Damon enjoyment of Emilio Sandri wines while dining in New York City.
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 over months in the cold underground cellar, minimizing extraction and using no new oak. Sandri’s winemaking is slow and gentle, with very low Sulphur levels and no other additions. While the Barolo is whole-cluster fermented, Sandri’s only modern winemaking acquiescence is to destem the Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo and Barbera fermentation takes place in ancient concrete tanks, before the wines are transferred to large 3,000L, Slovenian neutral wooden Botte tanks. The very limited Barolos are fermented directly in Botte wood tanks.
Vineyards: On sites originally planted over 1,000 years ago, indigenous yeasts thrive in his traditionally farmed vineyards, all on different elevations of the steeply sloping Disa hill at Monforte d’Alba. A non-interventionist, he uses no sprays and no plowing between rows, using integrated farming and organic herbicides. He thins the crop in the spring (not at veraison), removing the larger flowers and leaving what will become smaller clusters. Traditional trellising gives him leaf canopy adjustments for the cool and often foggy setting.
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 Ceritfied 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 vines to instead plant this 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 and cool, south-east facing Perno hill, in this cool, slower ripening, lower-sugars site. A sophisticated, intense style of Barbera with a lively flavor profile, built with substance, offering soft blackberries, floral notes, clove, mineral and earth on a round palate with generous sweet dark plum fruit and coffee. Made with no new oak,
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2018, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri New Vintage
Grown in his Barolo Zone vineyards, varying parcels are selected for Barolo or Nebbiolo bottlings depending on stylistic character each vintage. Named “Nebbiolo” for the cool autumn fog (or nebbia) and late ripening. 36 year-old vines cling to a steep-sloping, northeast-facing Langhe hillside producing small clusters. Winery notes:“Beautiful bouquet with flowers, herbs, tobacco, currants, earth and a touch of cedar. Velvety palate of licorice, bitter dark chocolate and sweet spices.” 400 six-packs for the U.S. 2017 vintage will be 156 list price, or 142 on the 2 case mix, reflecting Galloni’s new spotlight.
Dolcetto d’Alba 2018, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri LIMITED
A rare Dolcetto grown in the Barolo Zone, with 50 cases made and only 30 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 5 six-bottle cases for CA.
Barolo Perno DOCG 2015, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri NEW LIMITED
94 Points, Galloni: “The sort of wine you want to open and spend many hours with. Initially the tannins are searing, but over time the 2015 starts to come together. Scents of tobacco, cedar, dried cherry, mint and leather open gradually. On the palate, though, the wine is much less forthcoming. The 2015 is a Barolo of beguiling complexity and nuance that will give everything it has to offer on its own time schedule. 2023-2040.” Up to 50 year-old vines downslope from the Riserva on the same northeast-facing Perno hill. Neutral oak-aged (no new oak).
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.
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