Sandrone Barolo: Where the Modernists and Traditionalists Agree
In the 1989 and 1990 vintages, Luciano Sandrone stunned collectors when Robert Parker published back-to-back 97- and 99-point reviews, describing Sandrone’s Barolo as “a deeply layered, sensual Barolo (that) opens with captivating aromatics that meld into expressive fruit that continues to blossom on the palate in a stunning display of class and elegance.”
Those reviews would catapult Sandrone into the critical stratosphere, suddenly breathing the same rarefied air as Château Lafite, Petrus, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
But unlike many winegrowers whose heads swell with each 96-point Parker score, while appreciative of the accolades, Luciano Sandrone returned to his world-class vines — to the white tufa of Conterni, the calcaire of Cannubi Boschis, and the red tufa of Cerretta — each year refining and redefining his winegrowing style. As much as any of Barolo’s producers, Sandrone has always straddled the line between modernism and traditionalism, pushing the envelope on ripeness in the vines while nursing mesmerizing pine-needle complexity out of each Nebbiolo cluster.
In a place where entire vintages are subject to Nature’s caprice, Barolo producers have been treated to a number of extraordinary growing seasons in the last decade: the finely delineated 2001s, the classically structured 2006s and 2008s, and the sumptuous 2010s. But if we had to choose one vintage that offered up the juiciest, most pliant, and plush Barolos that take a page out of a seductive Burgundian script — it would be 2012.
We’ll be the first to say it: If you’re a Pinot Noir enthusiast or even a serious Côte de Nuits collector, the top 2012 Barolos are a MUST-buy. When a 95-pointer like Luciano’s Barolo Le Vigne arrives stateside — direct from Sandrone’s hand-built brick-domed cellars — don’t think twice. Hit the “Buy” button now, and thank us later. Here’s why.
Sandrone is as revered in Barolo as his modern-day Burgundy counterpart, the forward-thinking Dominique Lafon, one of the Côte d’Or’s most respected vintners. Both are pushing wines that are richer in style, more opulent, but still true to terroir.
Luciano combines the somewhat thinner-skinned Nebbiolo grapes from his mid-slope vineyards in the communes of Novello and Barolo, with extremely low yields harvested in Serralunga and Castiglione. Together, they produce an incredibly lush and juicy 2012 — a style taken right out of a Grand Cru Burgundy script.
The 2012 spring in Piedmont ushered in cool and rainy weather from April to May. The sun began to shine in June, though storms during flowering and fruit set led to a reduced crop — Luciano considered this an advantage, as there would be no need to green-harvest. Temperatures began to rise throughout July and August, climbing as high as 100 degrees, and loose Nebbiolo clusters soaked in the sun, ripening at a gentle pace until being harvested in early October.
The 2012 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne is deserving of a hefty pour into an oversized Riedel Burgundy glass. It’s a masterful creation that possesses a youthful drinkability, but will appeal to the traditionalist over time. Deep red to the edge, infused with mouthwatering aromas of crushed red and black fruits, violets, and earthy black truffle notes. The attack is rich and dense, filled with a sweet compote of dark black fruits. Sturdy and supple tannins are washed over by thirst-quenching acidity through a dazzling mineral finish of licorice and balsam, tinged with sweet spice.
95 points from Wine Spectator. Just 50 bottles have been earmarked for WineAccess. $165 on release. At $119 per bottle — the best price in the U.S. — this is the ONE Barolo that will appease the modernist, while those 2006s, 2008s and 2010s continue their traditionalist slumber. Shipping included on all orders.