Gianluigi Lano, Barbaresco "Rocche Massalupo"
Gianluigi Lano, Barbaresco "Rocche Massalupo"

Gianluigi Lano, Barbaresco "Rocche Massalupo"

Piedmont, Italy 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$55.00

Gianluigi Lano, Barbaresco "Rocche Massalupo"

If you love Piedmontese Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco but also tend to be impatient, the 2018 vintage is one to embrace: The wines are elegant, aromatic, and, by Nebbiolo standards, approachable now, so today’s single-vineyard stunner from Gianluigi Lano isn’t just an incredible value but one you can celebrate right away.  It’s drinking beautifully, it’s loaded with perfume, and it perfectly captures the lithe “feminity” of Barbaresco relative to Barolo. Sourced from a cru vineyard called “Rocche Massalupo” and farmed in a manner that is best described as ultra-natural, this wine, and this producer, is a fast-rising star on the Italian wine scene—a darling of the natural wine set whose exceptionally pure, precise wines also appeal to more “mainstream” palates. When a wine like this is set on the table, it tends to leave everything around it in its wake, lingering on your palate and in your memory like few red wines can, and it does so at a rather forgettable price. Get some in your glass as soon as possible!

Gianluigi Lano is steadily climbing the ranks in Barbaresco, showing a sure hand in challenging vintages like 2018 and committing to a style of farming that is still fairly rare in this part of the world: Were you to drive through the village of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, where the Lano family cantina is headquartered, the wild-looking Lano vineyards would surely catch your eye: synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are all forbidden, so don’t expect one of those neatly manicured tracts with nothing but dirt under the vine rows. The soils here are alive and un-manipulated, with lots of untamed plant growth, producing pristine grapes that are given the most traditional, minimalist treatment in the cellar—and yes, you really can taste it!  

Working with vineyards handed down from his father, Lano only began bottling wines under his own label in the early 1990s. Assisted by his wife, Daniela, and son, Samuele, he has made organic farming a priority and obtained certification a few years ago; the family produces a concise lineup of wines, including two Barbarescos, with today’s hailing from the only cru vineyard, Rocche Massalupo, that belongs entirely to San Rocco Seno d’Elvio (only a portion of this village falls within the boundaries of the Barbaresco DOCG zone, and its other Barbaresco-designated vineyards—“Rizzi,” “Montersino,” and “Meruzzano”—bleed over into the village of Treiso). The contours of the Rocche Massalupo are varied, as it wraps itself around a hillside all the way from south (and even a little southeast) up to the northwest. The Lanos source grapes from parcels facing south-southwest, sharing space in the Rocche Massalupo with several neighbors, including the legendary Pio Cesare winery, which counts it as a key site.

Today’s 2018 is old-school Barbaresco aged two years in 25-hectoliter oak botti and another year in bottle before release. It’s drinking well now, with lots of aromatic complexity and fine-grained tannins, but it does not lack for structure: Our suggestion is to decant it about an hour before service in large Burgundy bowls at 60 degrees. In the glass, it’s a deep garnet red moving to pink and orange at the rim, with highly perfumed aromas of red cherry, currant, blood orange, sandalwood, cigar wrapper, dried rose petals, and a hint of tar. The balance is impeccable—medium-bodied and fresh, with lively acidity—and there’s great persistence on the finish. It’s finessed enough to consider pairing with “Pinot Noir foods” like roast chicken or even salmon, but let’s not stray too far from Piedmont: This would be off-the-charts good with a classic red wine risotto or, if you’re a fresh pasta enthusiast, a ribbon style such a tajarin with a rabbit ragù. Ambitious, yes, but the wine warrants it. Enjoy!

Gianluigi Lano, Barbaresco "Rocche Massalupo"

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