Drink Distinct: Wines & Producers

Shhhh, Barbaresco genius at work

The staggering response to our recent offering of Barolo Cannubi magnums confirmed that our membership is thirsting for the wines of Italy. Most of our initial Italian portfolio will be setting sail for the US any day now. So, time to initiate pre-arrival offers - one winemaker at a time over the next several weeks. Oh my...so many great estates and wines, I’d be delighted to drink and cellar all of them (and of course will).


Let’s start with Barbaresco - known as the Queen of Italian wines (the King is Barolo), located in the Langhe region of Piedmont. Barbaresco, which is 100% Nebbiolo, tends to be more finessed and “relatively” softer than Barolo. Some compare it to Red Burgundy because the wines are pale in color and have good acidity. They are tannic - and are capable of long aging.


Given the small production area and increasing demand for these coveted wines, it was challenging to find VDLT-worthy candidates that are under-represented in the US. And then, I discovered Ugo!


Forty years ago, Ugo Lequio began a mission to acquire grapes from the great Barbaresco vineyard known as Gallina and he wanted Nebbiolo from its finest plot of Cascina Nuova. It took years to convince the owner who was selling to Bruno Giacosa. First he got Barbera from Gallina and ultimately his coveted Nebbiolo.


Ugo oversees vineyard management and is meticulous in his winemaking practices. His 2013 Barbaresco Gallina is everything and more one would expect from this best of class vine plot. That "more" is a remarkable expressiveness.


It is difficult to connect with a winemaker when you don't share a language. Fortunately, Ugo's son-in-law, Andrea D'Alessio, who works with a Tuscan wine estate and speaks English, was available.


Ugo is otherwise, close to a one-man show. His wines offer palpable terroir, but each has a distinctive voice - and I like and respect everything they have to say.


His flagship Barbaresco grabs the headlines, but all of Ugo’s wines have become benchmarks for me in their category. The 2015 Barbera d'Alba Superiore is a revelation transcending the modesty often associated with this wine. It is complex, age-worthy and delicious.


Ugo's 2017 Langhe Nebbiolo (from de-classified vines) can give many Barbarescos a run for their money. Its savory, spicy and ethereally weighted. His lone white is 2017 Langhe Arneis. This is a wine of great presence and depth, fullish body and lively acidity.


Ugo Lequio has the Midas touch. Given how extraordinary his wines are and how little of it there is, I am amazed (but delighted) they were available to us. Join me in discovering this incredible talent.