2020 Elio Sandri, Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
More lush and textural than the Sandri Dolcetto, the 2020 Barbera d’Alba Superiore with its lovely dark and inviting garnet color in the glass makes for a great value with a rewarding palate of classic flavors, lively acidity, mineral tones and smooth tannins. The core fruit including black raspberry, plum, black cherry and earthy currant feels ripe and rewarding in the mouth and is accented perfectly by crushed flowers, snappy mountain herbs, all spice and hints of hoisin and anise. As I have mentioned recently, Elio Sandri Barolo has a cult like following here in the states and especially with the Sommelier crowd, so you hardly see them, but lucky for us their beautiful Barbera and Dolcetto wines are somewhat are overlooked and bargain priced for the quality, as the 2020 wines show. Coming from organic vines in the Barolo zone, Elio Sandri’s cooler east facing, ultra steep parcels, of Barbera, gets all hand tending, as the tractor can’t operate here, and the grapes see an extended hang time that allows full ripening, heightened aromatics and concentration, but with core of vibrant acidity for balanced and elegant efforts.
The Barbera, as well as the mentioned Dolcetto, at Sandri is 100% de-stemmed and stainless steel tank fermented, after which it is aged in old Slovenian barrels to mature for just about a year, making it nicely transparent, pure and easy to love. Interestingly, Sandri uses whole cluster on his Barolo, which makes for a very gripping wine that needs plenty of bottle age to bring out its best, while the Dolcetto, and the Barbera are meant to drink young and fresh, especially with food of course. Elio Sandri, as noted in my prior review, based in Monforte, very close to the famed Serralunga zone of Barolo, is a traditionalist producer and makes his wines with minimal intervention and employs holistic, organic certified, methods in the vines focusing on the natural elements and purity of place. Giovanni Sandri, Elio’s father, founded the winery in the early sixties when he purchased Cascina Disa, where the modern Elio Sandri winery resides, it’s a property that sits up among some of the region’s highest hills, from where Elio crafts just 5 different bottlings. Sandri does two Barolo offerings, a normale and a Riserva, a Langhe Nebbiolo, a Barbera and this tasty little Dolcetto, all from estate grown vines in the Barolo appellation set on classic Marne (limestone) soils. I have been impressed by the rewarding nature of these latest Sandri wines and I highly suggest that Piedmonte fans check them out!
(25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive