We directly import these three wonderful Italian producers ourselves; estates who epitomise values of the family estate, authenticity and low-intervention in winemaking.
Fratelli Barale – Barolo, Piemonte
On the edge of Barolo village, just a few metres into the cobblestoned Via Roma, is the unprepossessing cantina frontage to one of the most exciting discoveries in my many years of going to the Langhe. It’s not as though Barale just emerged – they’ve been there since at least the 1500s – but gradually these firmly traditional wines have reached a point where they are being made to the full potential of this family’s remarkable vineyards and crucially, their traditional style is now being fully appreciated.
Barale present a catalogue of superb, authentic Barolo; the blend (‘Vendemmia’), their 3 famous Barolo Cru and a consistently outstanding Barbaresco, many of these also available in aged versions. There are bell-clear Piemontese varietals, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, an elegant and addictive version of Barolo Chinato, along with a slight twist in the form of a wonderful metodo classico – arguably the best sparkler I’ve ever had in Italy.
Barale Sparkling Wine
Metodo Classico ‘Sullelanghe’
Barale Fortified Wine
Barolo Chinato 500ml
Barolo Chinato 750ml
Grappa di Barolo 700ml
Barale Red Wine
Barbera d’Alba ‘Castle’
Barbaresco ‘Serraboella’ (Neive commune)
Barolo ‘Vendemmia’ (Barolo comune blend)
Barolo ‘Castellero’ (Barolo)
Barolo ‘Cannubi’ (Barolo)
Barolo ‘Bussia’ (Monforte d’Alba)
There’s also an extensive collection, in stock, of older wines, Riservas and magnums
Giovanni Sordo – Castiglione Falletto, Piemonte
The wines of Giovanni Sordo seem to astonish everyone who tries them; “where have these been?!” Almost everyone that is, as there are a few already in on the secret…
“What a lovely traditional producer Sordo is. These wines age gracefully for many years (tasted from 1980s+). They have purity, refinement & loud terroir expression. It’s particularly fun to try the single vineyard cru wines all together as they show the added structure of limestone/sandstone vs clays, the cooling effect of altitude, & the different Cru complexities.” Chester Osborn, Nov ‘18
Sordo HQ is nestled in the corner of Castiglione Falletto comune, on the last stretch of the Alba-Barolo road before it takes that left fork up to Barolo village. While the sheer impact and architectural quality of their new facility is eye-catching, it’s the wines that demand most attention. They display a remarkably consistent excellence for this number of wines made in an essentially traditional and unforced style. They are wines have which been described as ‘transparent’ and they are made by people who want their wines to speak of where they come from.
And what places these wines come from! Since the very early 20th century, generations of the Sordo family have been quietly collecting parcels of the finest Nebbiolo-growing dirt in the Langhe. They now have numerous plots of vines in Roero (for the wonderful Nebbiolo d’Alba), in Barbaresco and particularly Barolo – where they actually own 17 pieces of Cru classified vineyard and release an unprecedented 8 labelled (Barolo) Cru wines from these, so far. The future should see a couple more single-Cru releases (from La Morra and Barolo).
These are a cavalcade of Barolo’s most famous names – many of them appearing in any list of Barolo’s Top 10 Cru; Ravera, Monvigliero, Parussi, Perno and Gabutti and the revered Castiglione Falletto trio of Villero, Rocche di Castiglione and the great Monprivato. The scene is set by the blended Barolo ‘normale’ a superb wine which perhaps best testifies to the sites and winemaking of the Sordo family.
“These are superb wines…A feature of the Sordo wines is their moderate prices. They are substantially cheaper than other producers of comparable quality.” Huon Hooke June ‘19
“ I liked all of Giovanni Sordo’s 2015s. The wines are delicious well-made classics, finely nuanced and all reasonably priced for wines of this quality and provenance.” Michael Hill- Smith MW Aug ’19
Sordo Sparkling Wine
Spumante Metodo Classico Brut Rose (Nebbiolo)
Sordo White Wine
Langhe Bianco ‘Rapuje’
Gioso Red Wine
Gioso Nebbiolo d’Alba
Gioso Barbaresco (Treiso, Barbaresco, Neive)
Sordo Red Wine
Nebbiolo d’Alba 750ml and 1.5lt
Barbaresco (Barbaresco, Neive, Treiso)
Barolo (80% La Morra) 750ml and 1lt
Barolo ‘Ravera’ (Novello)
Barolo ‘Monvigliero’ (Verduno)
Barolo ‘Villero’ (Castiglione Falletto)
Barolo ‘Rocche di Castiglione’ (Castiglione Falletto) 750ml, 1.5lt & 3lt
Barolo ‘Monprivato’ (Castiglione Falletto)
Barolo ‘Parussi’ (Castiglione Falletto)
Barolo ‘Perno’ (Castiglione Falletto) 750ml, 1.5lt & 3lt
Barolo ‘Gabutti’ (Castiglione Falletto) 750ml, 1.5lt & 3lt
*There’s also an extensive collection, in stock, of older wines, Riservas, magnums and 3lt.
“This tiny estate, which has been making spectacular wines since 1982, makes some of the finest red wines in Tuscany. I am beginning to think that if I had only one Brunello di Montalcino to drink it would have to be Pertimali. Unfortunately, quantities are microscopic, making availability a major headache.” Robert M Parker, April ‘96
Of course, one always agrees with Parker when it suits, doesn’t one – but I have been as keen on Pertimali since my first experiences too. It was the very good ’94 (much better vintage there than most other places) that we first brought in (as David Ridge Wines, and later Distinguished Vineyards). Each vintage sold out easily, always providing a delight and a quite unique wine to people.
The Pertimali style is probably not quite like anyone else’s; the combination of the finesse and persistence of its northern Montalcino site, on the fabulous Montosoli slope, with an ability to get southern Montalcino super-ripeness, results in a wine with both the gamey/leather/mushroom/tobacco persona and the black fruits, vegemite and graphite, tighter elements. Unlike maybe most Brunello, which can often perform quite quickly at table – well at least much faster than say Barolo! – these do need a bit more air. What you get are layers of the characters mentioned and in fascinating waves, persistent and re-appearing. In looking for comparisons, wines from the middle and upper sections of Echezaux, and the Clos of Vougeot, are evocative. Maybe an elegant Serralunga?
Current custodian Lorenzo Sassetti keeps the winemaking simple and consistent and essentially the same for both wines – a gentle press, with must and skins together in the ferment for 12-15 days at 28˚C. Yeasts are indigenous. Rosso does its time in tank then bottle, generally without any oak and Brunello has 36 months in 30hl Slavonian wood and 6 more months in bottle. So they’re not really ‘Parker’ wines at all, but pure expressions of the Brunello of Montalcino.
Pertimali Red Wine
Rosso di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
** Contact David Ridge for prices & availabilities
firstname.lastname@example.org or 04017094334