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.
Barbera d’Alba DOC 2015, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri 6-pack
This 100% Barbera is grown in their “Perno” parcel on iron-laden, nutrient-poor soils near the top of a steeply sloping and cool hill Suri Disa facing south-east, with vines range from 40 to 60 years old. To create the best Barbera, they sacrificed a site with Nebbiolo da Barolo grapes to plant 1200 Barbera vines. The cool site means slower ripening, lower sugars at harvest. Boasting richness, the wine is softened 8 months in big Slovenian oak casks, and made with no new oak. The stylistic result is a Barbera with surprisingly liveliness, depth, density and flavor profile, built as a Serious Wine. A wine of substance, with soft blackberries, floral notes, clove, mineral and earth on a round palate with generous sweet dark plum fruit and coffee. Monforte d’Alba is one of the classic zones for high quality Barbera.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2015, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri 6-pack
Named “Nebbiolo” for the late harvesting due to cool autumn fog (or nebbia) and for the Langhe hills. The 30 year old vines cling to a dramatically steep-sloping, west-facing hillside producing small Nebbiolo clusters. Following hand-harvesting and destemming, it is native-yeast fermented in concrete tanks in their chilly cellar before aging several months in neutral chestnut wood tanks, then bottle- aged for years before release, allowing floral perfumes to form.
Winery notes: “Beautiful bouquet with flowers, herbs, tobacco, earth, currants and a touch of cedar. Velvety palate of licorice, bitter dark chocolate and sweet spices.” Only 400 six-packs for the entire U.S.
Barolo DOCG 2012, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri ALLOCATED, EXTREMELY LIMITED** 6-pack
Often described as the king of the wines, Barolo is famous for powerful richness of taste and aroma. This 100% Nebbiolo is planted in the Barolo Zone on poor soils, downslope from the Riserva in a southwest-facing parcel of the same Perno hill. More forward than the Riserva, Elio Sandri Barolo is intense, structured and age-worthy but extraordinarily balanced, thanks to careful aging in neutral Slovenian oak. It is native-yeast fermented with partial stem inclusion in barrels, racked back to same casks, then bottle aged four years before release. Six years aging have given it a delicate bouquet, ethereal and intense, spiced and ripe forest fruits with a mineral feel. Rich to the palate, it is has mature tannins and good acids, and a long future. Unfined and unfiltered. 600 six-packs produced.
Barolo Riserva DOCG 2011, Azienda Agriviticola Elio Sandri ALLOCATED, EXTREMELY LIMITED** 6-pack
This 100% Nebbiolo Barolo Riserva is planted mid-slope (like Burgundy’s Grand Cru vineyards) in the Barolo Zone on a southwest- facing parcel of the Perno Hill, but is otherwise farmed the same as the Barolo but with older vines and lower yields. Fermented whole- cluster in ancient Botte wood casks, and then aged 4 years in smaller Botte, the Riserva always shows more length, especially obvious in the peacock-tail of an expansive, colorful finish. It also carries greater aging potential with a deeper structure. Unfined, unfiltered.
** Sadly, huge Barolo demand and tiny amounts imported to the US necessitate the allocation process among those already supporting other Elio Sandri wines, a reality that originates with the winery and is shared by the importer, Rising Star and our loyal supporters.