2016 Le Pianelle, Bramaterra DOC, Alto Piedmonte, Italy.
The incredible and well structured Le Pianelle Bramaterra DOC rosso is a traditional blend of 80% Nebbiolo, also known locally as Spanna, along with other native varietals of which are 10% Vespolina and 10% Croatina from this northern part of Pidmonte that is more alpine and set on volcanic based Porphyritic sand and ancient glacial deposits with red/orange soils, which has given this terroir driven wine its gripping personality and inner beauty. The Bramaterra zone is sandwiched between Lessona to the west and Gattinara to the southeast in the Alto Piedmonte area, one of the hot spots in the wine world, where Nebbiolo has long been the main grape like the famous Barbaresco and Barolo that sit almost directly below, closer to Asti and Alba. Winemaker Cristiano Garella, who has been a head winemaker since he was just 21 years old, has crafted an amazing wine with this 2016 vintage, while still youthfully tannic and taut, there is no doubt this is one of the best wines in the region and there’s a huge potential for this wine in the years or decades to come. There’s stunning depth, concentration and complexity that is already completely seductive on the full bodied palate with classic Nebbiolo power and energy, it delivers iron rich mineral tones behind a core of red fruits, that are accented by spice, earth and herbal notes, making for a dark sultry and slightly rustic wine. With air this Bramaterra comes alive fully in a way that reminds you of a leopard with a feline muscular way that impresses the senses with finely coiled tension, it shows brandied cherries, damson plum, briar laced raspberry and red currant fruits, a touch of sanguine and leather, weather hard wood, truffle, anise, wilted rose petals and orange rind. Each sip revealed a new dimension and while not cheap, this wine is an outstanding value and will reward Nebbiolo fans greatly.

The Nebbiolo grape is, as Garella explains, is the foundation and soul of his flagship Bramaterra DOC, and it is complemented by the Croatina and Vespolina that both lift the flavors and heighten the aromatics in the wine. For the production of this Alto Piedmonte red Garella uses grapes are harvested exclusively by hand, with each grape variety and vineyard parcels being fermented in separate small lots with maceration and fermentation in open top Grenier oak vats. After primary fermentation is complete the young wine is racked to wood and matured for 18 months in a combination of used small French barrique barrels as well as large Austrian made Stockinger oak barrels. The Le Pianelle Bramaterra is kept in the cellar in bottle for an extra 24 months before its being release, to be more supple and mature when it is offered out. I had not had this producer before, but now I’m a hyper aware fan that looks forward to trying older and newer releases from Cristiano, such was the experience tasting this fine effort. Lepianelle was founded in 2002 by the German national Dieter Heuskel, who was a huge fan of Piedmonte area and its wines, when the opportunity and challenge of rejuvenating a long-forgotten vineyard was presented to him and his partner, the well respected Alto Adige producer Peter Dipoli of Voglar, and now with the youthful and gifted Cristiano Garella, a native to the region who had Nebbiolo in his blood, they have created, along with an impressive vineyard team, a truly world class wine estate. I am going to try and get a few bottles of this 2016, as well as see if I can find some 2013, of this brilliant wine, it maybe best to put them in the cellar for a few more years, but it will be hard not open them at the earliest opportunity, especially with a hearty meal that will allow the best features shine through. As of now, Le Pianelle offers three wines, two reds, that includes this glorious dark ruby hued and brick edged Bramaterra DOC and a Rosato (Rosé) and the production is rather limited, so you’ll have to chase these down, but it is well worth it!
($50 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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