Those who have visited Piedmont will understand just how varied these beautiful Alpine foothills are in aspect, altitude and geology. The best winemakers are able to translate the nuance of these sites, or ‘crus’, into delicious and distinctive expressions of Nebbiolo. Andrea Sottimano is an absolute master of the art. Trained in the Côte d’Or, his wines bear more than a passing resemblance to the elegance, detail and drama of the finest red Burgundy – at a fraction of the price.
‘Andrea Sottimano brilliantly crafts the personas of many important Barbaresco crus to create a nuanced and beautiful image of the region, making some of the most graceful, elegant, and soulful wines in the Langhe.’ Parr & Mackay, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste
So imagine our excitement when Andrea announced the acquisition of a new three hectare plot at the heart of the prestigious ‘Basarin’ vineyard on the border between Nieve and Treviso. Basarin means ‘sun-kissed’ in the Piedmont dialect and you can see why. The slope, rising more than 350m above sea level, has a range of sun soaked southerly aspects overlooking the hamlet of Moretta. There is a broad mixture of geology here including limestone, calcarerous-marl and even some Gallo d’Alba sandstone. Vine age varies but Andrea’s new jewels range from 15 to over 60 years old.
The natural characteristics of Basarin make for Barbaresco with generous fruit, plenty of structure, spice, and a beautifully scented nose of cherries, rose, licorice, tobacco and eucalyptus. The higher altitude spots combine this intensity with rare elegance and finesse. These are some of the most finely balanced Nebbiolos you will find anywhere in Piedmont.
‘Here’s a cru expression from Sottimano that has never crossed my radar before. The 2015 Barbaresco Basarin (with fruit from Neive) is a beautifully executed wine. Specifically, the wine maintains its deep inner elegance despite the heat of the vintage that is so apparent in many other wines made nearby. This is a polished and glossy expression with dark fruit flavors at the core.’ Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate
Initially fruit from the younger vines was incorporated into Andrea’s Langhe Nebbiolo but in 2015 he took the decision to begin bottling a small quantity of juice from his oldest vines as a standalone cru. Now, after several years of impatient anticipation, a tiny parcel of this inaugural vintage is here in the UK and ready for delivery alongside the other established crus: Pajoré and Cottá (browse the full offer via the button below).
‘Broadly speaking, the 2015s are generous Barbarescos with soft curves and a good bit of fruit intensity, but they aren’t overdone.’ Antonio Galloni, Vinous
What an overture 2015 provides for Basarin. Like much of the rest of Europe, this was a warm, dry, and early vintage in Piedmont, completely the reverse of tricky 2014. The challenge was controlling the natural exuberance and weight of the vintage to maintain freshness and prevent tannins becoming too harsh. Sottimano’s light touch worked wonders and the resulting wines are generously fruited, silky, spicy, aromatic, and well-structured. They are also very well defined, with each cru clearly expressing its own identity – no mean feat in a warm vintage when detail can sometimes be drowned out.
You can certainly drink these 2015s young but, if the delicious 2010s are anything to go by, it’s best to cellar them for another few years, when more of Nebbiolo’s haunting complexity will have revealed itself. Either way, the key is to squirrel away a few cases now, or you may never get the chance to appreciate some of the best Barbarescos this vintage has to offer – and at a fraction of the price of the region’s big beasts, Gaja, Roagna and Giacosa.