2017 Manzone, Barolo DOCG “Bricat” Piemonte, Italy.
I love this 2017 Manzone Bricat Barolo, it was quite a surprise too, it is very dark ruby/garnet, expressive and full bodied with loads of classic Nebbiolo goodness, with brandied cherry, bramble berry, damson plum and red currant fruits, along with tar, black licorice, wilted roses, crushed chalk, truffle, leather, cigar wrapper and cedar notes. There’s a lot of reviews of this 2017 described as shy and delicately elegant, but I can tell you that this bottle of Bricat showed that this wine as of now has filled out and it was quite serious, powerful and gripping in tannic structure, it must have had some warm vintage baby fat, that has melted away and left a more true Barolo in place now. Fermented and macerated in tank on the skins for 25 days, this Bricat was then aged in a combination of 500L and 700L Slavonian casks and French tonneaux for 36 months. Manzone’s Barolo Bricat is sourced from the oldest vines, in the highest, best-exposed parcel of the Gramolere cru in Monforte d’Alba and though Bricat actually translates to a small hill in the native slag here, the name really is that of the old owner of these vines, which were purchased by the Manzone family in 1989. Interestingly, Manzone also produces the rare Rossese Bianco, a native white Piemonte varietal, with bright tropical notes, that is pretty much only found and grown around the communes of Roddino and Sinio in the Langhe region of Cuneo. It’s noted that while sharing the name Rossese with the likes of Rossese di Dolceacqua (Tibouren) there is no DNA relationship and that grape experts believe it acquired the name, because like Pinot Grigio the skins get quite dark pinkish/red close to harvest, though I’ve not heard of any skin contact versions. Back to the Bricat Barolo, it was incredible and changed dramatically in the glass, getting wonderfully silken and was great with food as well, even the dark mole pork dish was an unlikely, but awesome pairing, though I imagine a leg of lamb and or prime rib would be fabulous with this wine.

Manzone was originally founded In 1925 when Giovanni Manzone Sr. purchased “Ciabot del Preve” (the Parish Priest house) and helped pioneer winemaking in Monforte d’Alba area, which has become one Barolo’s most famous spots. The Manzone family made some significant upgrades to their holdings over the years and they purchased important vineyards on the historic hill of Castelletto and Gramolare, which have proved to be two of the best Barolo crus in the Monforte d’Alba zone. It’s from these two prime Nebbiolo sites from which they still rely upon for the heart and soul of their collection. In recent times, Mauro and Mirella Manzone joined their father Giovanni Jr. in the management of the winery, both have graduated from the famed Oenology School of Alba. The farming is all sustainable with mainly organic viticultural principles being used and natural native grass is left between the rows of vines, mowed and left on the ground to form, what they call humus, to add nutrients to the soils. All the wines at Manzone are unfined and unfiltered, and they only add minimal amounts of SO2 to them. I’ve followed Manzone for most of my own professional career and was, again, excited to try a recent release and was greatly impressed with the depth and purity of this 2017, which was an uneven vintage in quality and not as heralded as 2010 or 2016, making Manzone’s Bricat effort even more thrilling, it is turning out to be quite a wine. The Bricat Nebbiolo vines, as I learned, were planted in the 1970s and are up at between 335 and 400 meters above sea level, getting loads of sun, but also seeing a lot of higher elevation cooling, which in this case proved critical to produce such a gorgeous wine. Another point of interest here, is the Helvetian, or Serravallian soils, which are sandstone based, are mainly found in the communes of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba and Monforte d’Alba, where Gramolare is, again helping explain the distinctive characteristics found in this wine, which intrigued me.
($81 ESt.) 95 Points, grapelive

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