My top 10 list of underrated winemakers in Piemonte

11Feb10

10.  Enzo Boglietti:  Whimsical?  Maybe.  Dedicated to making great wines? Definetely. I still think his Casa Nere Barolo from 06 is top three in the vintage.  The Vigna dei Romani Barbera is an intriguing wine.  And, the Langhe Buio, a blend, is as international as they come but with an unmistakingly stamp of the Langhe and Enzo Boglietti.

9. Conterno Fantino: Maybe not so underrated as (some of) the other Conternos are overrated.  On top of the hill (in Monforte), and so their wines will be too.  Their Barolo Sori Ginestra is gorgeous.  So is their Monpra blend (a dash of Cabernet added to the nebbiolo/barbera).  Solid entry wines, including their Bastia chardonnay.

8. CaViola: Beppe is not really an underrated winemaker, but he often gets his accolades for wines where he’s the consultant.  That’s not to say his own wines are great.  Try the Dolcetto d’Alba Barturot or the Langhe Rosso BricLuv (Nebbiolo/Barbera blend, with a small dash of Pinot Noir).

7. Coppo: Again not underrated, but kinda forgotten or often just referred to as too big and commerical.  Perhaps they are, but a more Burgundesq Chardonnay than the Monteriolo is hard to come by (and at a great price).  And, 2 years ago I had a 96 Pomorosso at the Vineria San Giorgi in La Morra, and it still stand as one of the wine moments of my life.

6. Einaudi: One of a few hidden gems in the town of Dogliani.  In addition to great “hotel”, they make great wines here.  Ranging from the two profound Doglianis (Vigna Tecc and Il Filari), via the Langhe Rosso (one of the better blends in the region), to above-average Barolos.

5. Gilliardi: If not for anything else, go see him for his architect-inspired winery.  And his naming-strategy (His Syrah is of course called Harys).  However, his wines and his winemaking are inspired by Burgundy, and Hary is one of the better Shiraz/Syrah wines around, his Dolcetto Cursalet, and his new Grenache “Granaccio Vino da Tavola”.

4. Mauro Veglio:  Probably more famous for being Altare’s next door neighbour than anything else.  But deserve much more.  Their Barbera Cascina Nuova has for a long time been one of the better Barberas on the market.  Their 08 Dolcetto was perhaps the best in the Langhe.  And their Barolos deserve more attention than they get today.  Especially the Rocche dell’Annunziata is one of the top Barolos around.

3. Abbona:  Initially fell in love with their Dogliani Papa Celso, perhaps the best Dolcetto-based wine you can find.  But they’ve emerged as a quality-all-around winery, with very good value wines, ranging from good entry whites to top-end Barolos.

No 1 and 2 are not really underrated in the sense of the other 8, but as they are often neglected in the buzz around the likes of Gaja, Giacosa, La Spinetta, and Conterno (which are all great, I might add!!).  In my opinion, the (even) better wines are today produced by 1 and 2, and that we will see and hear much more from them in the future.

2. Vietti.  What more can I say.  Perhaps the best value vine overall in the world (Perbacco), a wonderful Barbera (La Crena), and the much improved Barolo (Lazzarito).  Combined with good quality overall, and a dedication to excellence.  Expect to see WA, JR or WS dash out their top mark for the Lazzarito any time soon.

1. Elio Altare:  Priced way below Gaja’s famous reds, Altare’s La Villa, Larigi, and Arborina are perhaps (and in my opinion) the best value (high end) reds in the market today.  Stability from vintage to vintage, an absolute passion to make the greatest wines possible.  Add to that some top Barolos in the business, and that you can never go wrong with their entry wines, especially their Dolcetto.  Try it and you will know what I mean.

My apologies to those missed out on the list.  On top of my head, Pecchenino (especially their Doglinai Siri de Jermu), Revello (try their Barbera Ciabot de u Re), and Oberto (I love their Barbera Giada) as well as Marcarini and Sandrone (overall quality and consistency throughout their range of wines).



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