A skillful modernist with a great nose of Cannubi

Luciano Sandrone is usually referred to as a modernist, but ever since he was acknowledged by International critics back in the 90’s for his 1989 barolo, he has always been very skilled and careful with oak making sure that expression of Barolo is always conveyed and not coated by excessive oak aromas. Even though, Luciano always aimed for more approachable barolos, his maceration periods was not as extremely short as the others in the gang initiated by Elio Altare in the late 70’s. He started out with eight days and throught the years he has ended up with about twelve days. In addition, he never employed rotor fermentors, but always used open-top vats. At Sandrone, they put most of their effort into the vineyards and keep low controlled yields at 35 hl/ha and employ meticulous care of the plants; they prune hard and employ green harvest. The malo and aging was done in 500L french barriques (Tonneaux) of which 25% are new. So I guess you could say he stayed somewhere in between tradition and modernism, a middle road that many producers have ended up today. Maybe a little ahead of his time.

We were really impressed with the 2001 Cannubi-boschis and even more so with the exceptionally balanced 2004 vintage that offered so much depth, complexity and elegance from the neighbour to the famous Cannubi. The estate is headed by Luciano Sandrone and his very much younger little brother Luca who is responsible for the vineyards. Luciano’s daughter, Barbara, is responsible for customer relations, marketing and sale.
The 2009 vintage is patchy in a very warm, short-cycled year that is not favourable for nebbiolo, but harvest was easy and some producers still managed to render really good wines by waiting until tannins were ripe and more importantly employed scruples selection. It appears that Sandrone did harvest quite late, so this is promising.
The colour is beautiful, translucent garnet red middle, transparent and light-orange edges.
The base of the nose frames tobacco, cigar box, notes of tar, dry licorice-root, distinct conserved raspberries, oil paint and wood glue. Lovely top notes of dried rose petals, dry mint and fragrant fresh inner perfumes. Typical scent of the famous Cannubi site, but remarkably fresh and elegant with lovely inner perfume. In addition, tiny notes of lavender soap from the oak, but nothing that disturbs. Honestly, an overall wonderfully detailed and lovely, transparent nose.
The taste is very forward and intense with loads of opulent, ripe and almost too sweet fruit and most prominent is sourish wild strawberries. The mid palate offers distinct anise, grape juice, herbs, delicate, complex lime stone minerals and gravel. The acidity is very energetic, fresh wrapping grape-peel, balsamic notes and bitter herbs. Texture is fine sand now, but will of course improve with time into a more velvet finish in a few years. However, we lack chewy tannins and these are maybe not unripe, but not of the expected high quality level and yet a little harsh. The wine has a medium body, it is round, very well balanced with a pleasant and harmonious crescendo in the quite persistent final.
They show, again, that they are very skillful and careful with oak and render a very round, balanced wine made with finesse and the nose is really great and transparent to this famous site. However, the taste lacks some complexity and depth that we expect from this wine, so even though we enjoy it, it is a little of a disappointment from yet a good but average vintage. Open 2016.

93p/100

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