2009 Pajoré Sottimano
Very pure, featuring cherry, floral, spice and tobacco flavors. Though firm, with a dry edge to the tannins, this has sweet fruit that returns on the finish. Needs time. Drinking range: 2015 - 2026 Rating: 91 Bruce Sanderson, The Wine Spectator (Feb 2013)
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Sweet flowers and fruits here. Citrus undertone. Full body, with fine tannins and chewy finish. Racy and intriguing. Better after 2014. Rating: 92 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com
Less new oak than on the 2008 (just 10% suited the vintage). But it still smells oakier than the 2008, more spicy in a darker frame. Darker and sweeter and richer in the fruit spectrum too. Big and bold in a refined Nebbiolo way but still retains a lovely coolness and fragrance on the palate. Tannins more of a block at the moment but it's obvious they will resolve. (JH) 2014 - 2020. Rating: 18 Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com
The 2009 Barbaresco Pajore boasts stunning depth, power and richness, all supported by the saline minerality of these poor, white soils. The Pajore is the most fiercely tannic of the 2009s. Layers of menthol, spices, licorice and a host of balsamic notes wrap around the juicy, opulent finish. This is a gorgeous wine, but it also shows the limits of the vintage in tannins that will probably never fully integrate. Drinking range: 2016 - 2024 Rating: 93 Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate (Oct 2012)
The 2009 Barbaresco Pajoré boasts stunning depth, power and richness, all supported by the saline minerality of these poor, white soils. The Pajoré is the most fiercely tannic of the 2009s. Layers of menthol, spices, licorice and a host of balsamic notes wrap around the juicy, opulent finish. This is a gorgeous wine, but it also shows the limits of the vintage in tannins that will probably never fully integrate. Drinking range: 2016 - 2024 Rating: 93-93 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Oct 2012)
(from a high-altitude, limestone-rich vineyard in Treiso): Good bright red. Sexy, elegant nose offers strawberry, raspberry, tobacco and spices. Juicy and primary for the vintage, with excellent mineral and spicy cut giving precision to the middle palate. Very Treiso in character, and the highest in acidity of these 2009 Barbarescos (6 grams, vs. 5.5 for the others). Finishes energetic and long, with chewy, firm tannins and terrific lift. This really transcends the vintage. "But not the best style of wine for a blind tasting," notes Sottimano. Rating: 93-93 Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com (Nov 2011)
Andrea Sottimano's 2011s and 2012s are fabulous. The 2011 Barbarescos capture the radiance of the year, while the just-bottled 2012s show gorgeous purity of fruit along with a greater sense of restraint. Readers who haven't tasted the Sottimano wines in a few years will want to check out these superb, pedigreed Barbarescos, as quite a bit has changed here, particularly over the last 5-6 years. Today, the approach to farming is decidedly less interventionalist than in the past. Sottimano no longer uses pesticides and herbicides. Yields aren't quite as dramatically low as they once were. The same hands off approach carries through to winemaking. Cool temperatures encourage slow and long malolactic fermentations, a long aging on the lees with minimal rackings, an approach that is much more typical in Burgundy than it is in Piedmont. Today's wines are transparent, crystalline and full of personality. There is no question quality has never been higher.' Antonio Galloni, Autumn 2014.
This sixteen hectare estate is based in the Cotta' region of Barbaresco, and the Sottimano family have over the years bought outstanding vineyards in the 'crus' of Currà, Cottà, Fausoni and Pajore. Yields are kept very low and the winemaking as natural as possible, without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilisers, using only natural yeasts and bottling without filtering or fining. All of these 'crus' are given exactly the same oak treatment so as to allow the individual 'terroirs' express their character (fermentation in barriques, of which 30% new, followed by 18 to 20 months in neutral barriques).
There are five different terroirs with Nebbiolo planted within the estate:
- Basarin, with a mixture of clay, limestone and sand, is at about four hundred metres above sea level. This produces the estate's Langhe Nebbiolo, which is basically 'village Barbaresco', as the vines are very young (10-15 years old). It makes for wines that are always very elegant, refined, tannins are silky and softer, nuanced of spices and herbs (eucalyptus).
- Fausoni, on sand and clay, makes wines that are always very elegant - mint, liquorice and little red fruits. This is in the historical part of Neive.
- Currà, on clay and limestone, is one of the smallest cru of the whole appellation, wines are always very intense and powerful, hardbodied and with good tannins. Hints of spices and smoke are characteristics of this area.
- Cottà, on limestone with clay,is is one of the oldest cru in Barbaresco, vines are always very old here (fifty years and older) and the colours are just a little bit lighter than other vineyards (because of the clay), but they have a very distinctive nose of dark fruits and mint, a great elegance and mineral tannins.
- Pajore is almost entirely on limestone with just a little clay. This is the highest vineyard of all, at 420 metres above sea level. The vines are very old, and it is always the most mineral and elegant of the four Barbarescos. Limestone brings into the wine a great purity of fruit, a distinctive aroma of spices and tobacco (cigar box) and a very unusual quality of tannins, firm but very mineral.
It is often lazily asserted that if Barolo is the King of Piedmontese wines Barbaresco is the Queen; which can unfairly suggest Barbaresco as the lesser of the two - it certainly isn't - and suggest a more feminine style to Barbaresco - which is rather hard to discern in reality. It is more in the way of a dual monarchy - two Kings, or Queens if you prefer, both can be big, both can be highly seductive. This is the intense and sensual world of Nebbiolo, where solid tannins vie unexpectedly well with delicate fruit, and where age unwinds ever more complex flavours. In this case we have a brace of wines from Cigliuti, wines that are surprisingly open in relative youth but offer much promise for the future; and a trio from the butch solid grippingly tannic world of Sottimano which cry out for a cool dark cellar and some patience.
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