Our tasting impressions
Light and lively Nebbiolo that is so savory. The tannins are fine and provide structure without inhibiting enjoyment. The red fruit flavors are both spicy and sweet. To enjoy while you give the Barbaresco it’s requisite time to evolve.
About this wine
Langhe Nebbiolo (100% Nebbiolo) is produced either or both from vineyards not classified as Barolo or Barbaresco or from less desirable or younger vines within those classifications. As a result, they tend to be softer and more accessible.
In this case, the grapes come from Castellizzano in Treiso with a Northwest exposure at an altitude of 400 meters. The vines are 19 years old and the average yield is 50 hl/ha.
The wine is made in steel tanks at 28°C for 6-7 days. Then it’s moved to 700-liter tonneau to age for 5-6 months. He makes about 3,000 bottles per year.
About the grape
Nebbiolo, the name believed to be derived from nebbia, Italian for fog, is a grape with one of the most protracted maturation cycles. It buds in early spring and ripens late fall (when the winter nebbia from the Alps reaches the vineyards).
Nebbiolo vines tend to grow upwardly with abandon, so management is essential to limit grape production and channel energy to them. They also are very particular about where they will thrive, which is why Nebbiolo is seldom found outside of Piedmont. Even there, it only is successful when planted on south facing slopes (much sun is needed for ripening), at elevations between 250 and 450 meters (lower there is too much frost exposure, higher the grapes won’t ripen).
Wines from Nebbiolo usually are pale-colored, high in acidity and very tannic. Common flavor descriptors are rose and tar. They tend to be highly aromatic.
About the vintage
A combination of drought and frost substantially knocked down yields in 2017. Generally cool nights helped Nebbiolo achieve good levels of acidity. So, while production levels were reduced, as is often the case, skilled producers are able to craft wines of great concentration.
On your table
Hard to imagine too many pairings that wouldn’t be at least okay. I’d try a pasta arrabiata or lobster fra diablo with gentle pepper treatment. Serve at cellar temperature.
Ugo Lequio started his winery in 1981 despite not owning any vines. He lived in view of Gallina, one of the great vineyards in Neive producing Barbaresco. He had to persuade a vineyard owner to sell grapes to him. The Marcarinis had much of the most cherished plot known as Cascina Nuova. He was able to purchase Barbera from them initially and after many years he succeeded in acquiring their prized Nebbiolo, which had previously gone to Bruno Giacosa, one of the legends of Langhe wines in Piedmont. The vineyard has optimal exposure, altitude and soil composition.
Ugo does almost everything himself including oversight of vineyard management. His grape selection is painstaking and his winemaking very traditional. He ages his wines longer than the regulations stipulate and does nothing to alter the natural alcohol levels. Amazingly, the wines have great balance and display no heat even if the ABV is higher.
This is a true artisan, crafting incredible wines. We tasted an Arneis that had barely begun fermentation (it looked like a cloudy unfiltered beer) yet it had unbelievable delineation and balance. Ugo is his own man, a rightfully proud man who is so deeply devoted to making extraordinary wine.