2017 Giuseppe Ellena, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
It’s a thrill to discover new producers, like Giuseppe Ellena of Cuneo, Piedmonte, where young winemaker Mateo Ellena is crafting some interesting wines, he has worked for both Elio Altare of La Morra and Giacoma Bologna of Rocchetta Tanaro, so comes with some serious street cred and I was impressed by his latest release, a basic Langhe Nebbiolo from estate plots in the famed La Morra zone of Barolo. The home estate is planted to vines and hazelnuts and Mateo has converted it all to organic viticulture as well as bringing a bit of what he learned at Altare and Rocchetta Tanaro, with some flair and style from both of these producers being, as he puts it, a fusing modernity with classic or traditional Barolo. This 2017 is supple and silky like a fine Pinot Noir, but with exceptional Nebbiolo flavor and character showing pretty rose petals, candied citrus, tangy herbs along with strawberry, plum and juicy red berry fruits on the lighter palate as well as dried lavender, anise and a hint of tarry earth. This smooth and fruit driven Nebbiolo is vibrant and smooth, making it easy to enjoy right away and while not overly complex or densely structured it is a very pleasing red to pop in its youth.
In Ellena’s cellar, the younger wines, like this Langhe Nebbiolo, are given soft handling, less extraction, with higher temperature ferments and shorter time in oak, if it sees wood at all, which this one doesn’t show at all, it’s as pure as can be, while his Baroo offerngs, which I’m excited to explore next, are macerated for 60+ days on the skins and raised traditionally in botti with a bit of barrique on the more intense Cru wines. Mateo’s primary and malolactic ferments are carried out with 100% indigenous yeasts and the rackings are limited in order to minimize sulfur additions. Ellena, who mostly does Nebbiolo based wines also does Dolcetto and Barbera, plus a rare white made from Nascetta, the relatively unknown Langhe white grape. This rare variety, which is light and aromatic, which was once very popular in the region, but ended up being abandoned at the turn of the 20th century, its recent rediscovery, about 10 years ago is exciting, especially as there is less than 20 acres planted worldwide! I love Nebbiolo and Ellena’s tasty little Langhe Nebbiolo is a nice quilt free version that is a solid choice for the price and perfect for casual drinking, keep an eye out for this label!
($26 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive