2016 Giorgio Pira, Barolo Riserva DOCG “Terre del Mago” Piedmonte, Italy.
I had never seen or tasted the wines of Giorgio Pira, who’s family has been growing grapes near the village of Perno for the better part of a hundred years before our declaration of independence and now farm steep north facing parcels in the Barolo zone, and I was impressed with the wines I tasted, which included a 2019 Langhe Nebbiolo and this gorgeous 2016 Barolo Riserva. With real stunning concentration and tannic backbone, this Barolo, which they call the “Terre del Mago” (Lands of the Wizard) comes from vines that were replanted in 1971, it delivers an attention grabbing impact on the full bodied palate with a traditional array of macerated cherry, plum and mulberry fruits along with dried rose petals, porcini, hoisin, anise, snappy herbs and cedar notes. This Barolo is dark garnet with brickish edges and while firm and structured still manages to be generous and lengthy, it opens nicely in the glass to reveal a deeper earthy/savory intensity and makes for a serious wine that truly needs a hearty meal to bring out its best features. I look forward to checking out Pira’s Barolo normale as well, which unfortunately, wasn’t at this tasting.

Giorgio Pira and family, focus exclusively on Nebbiolo and have two main clonal selections in their Laut (Lieu-Dit) with Michet and Lampia clones interplanted in their steep sloping vineyards, that are on what they say is iron (mineral) rich soils with an underpinning of Helvetian sandstone. Located near Monforte and with its cooler exposure these Giorgio Pira wines show off a distinct terroir character and balance, especially this limited Riserva bottling, which is absolutely a cracker of a wine. The farming here is sustainable and holster with many natural practices with these vines getting only hand tending and harvesting, with serve care and selections of only the finest Nebbiolo grapes. In the cellar the Pira’s go for a natural style, including some stem inclusion, with indigenous yeast fermentation that includes a lengthy 25 day maceration with hand cap punch downs before the wine put to cask, which is in large and old 20-year-old Slovenia Botti. The Riserva Terre del Mago matured in the wood for 48 months and then rested in bottle for another three years prior to its release, which was this Spring of 2023! Only 125 cases of this 2016 were made, and while not cheap offering, it is beautifully portioned wine that should age well for another 15 to 20 years.
($87 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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