French-Swedish online wine dealer Caviste also sells wines from the Piemontese producer Ferdinando Principiano. I tasted the last release in late October, as well as the corresponding wines in 2015 and 2016.
I repeat what I wrote in 2015: Principiano is a producer who have worked for both traditionalists and modernists, and for a time in the 1990s he produced his own modernist wines, which means wines with powerful concentration built on vinification using a lot of extraction, small oak barrels, and quite a bit of new oak. In the early 2000s, he changed his views and aimed for a more non-interventionist style and lighter wines. This means that he comes close to the traditionalists, but I get the impression that his style is more “light and polished” than what may come to mind when some hear the term Piedmontese traditionalist, and several of his wines are in a style that is approachable already on release. This impression still remains after tasting three years’ releases of the wines, but possibly the phrase “elegant and balanced style” should be added. Incidentally, the style of the wines are well aligned to the French wines sold by Caviste. The 2013 Barolo was really excellent!
2016 Dolcetto d’Alba Sant’ Anna
Grape variety: Dolcetto. 10 months in steel tanks, 12% alcohol.
Nose with dark cherries, a hint of tar, some spice. Palate with cherries, rather good concentration of berries, good acidity, rather noticeable tannins and some of the “slightly tough and rough” character typical for Dolcetto. Drinks well now with food, but shows sufficient tannic bite for me to think that it would do well with at least one year of cellaring, 85+ p.
This wine shows a cooler style, in particular on the palate, than the 2015 vintage, which was a ripe vintage that showed more fruit with some plums.
2015 Barbera d’Alba Laura
Grape variety: Barbera. 10 months in steel tanks, 13% alcohol.
Berry-dominated nose with cherries, some tar in the background, and lightly perfumed hints. Palate with cherries, definitely good concentration, rather hot fruit character on the palate, good acidity (but not “disturbingly” high), and some tannins well embedded in the fruit. Rather approachable already, 87 p.
Here, the ripe 2015 vintage has come through in the form of more fruit and a level of acidity which isn’t quite as prominent as often is the case with Barbera. The end result still is a fresh Barbera (unlike the more heavily oaked creations of this region, those that sometime express “Merlot envy”), but a wine which shows more berry notes and is less demanding than usual. To me (and I more frequently drink Nebbiolo d’Alba than Barbera d’same and prefer the former), this results in a more pleasant wine although there may be Barbera purists out there who possess well-tanned palates and prefer the cooler vintages with more demanding acidityr. 🙂
2013 Barolo Serralunga
Grape variety: Nebbiolo, from young vines. Raised 24 months in big oak vats (botti) of 2000-4000 liters, 13,5% alcohol.
Very elegant nose with red berries – cranberries and strawberries, flowery and perfumed notes with in particular white flowers, and hints of tar. A distinctly classical nose in the almost Burgundian and “Pinoty” way. Palate with red berries, cranberries and strawberries, an almost “crystalline” minerality (yes, I know it can be difficult to figure out what this means but this was the association that came into my mind, rather than chalky or stony…), quite good acidity, smooth and polished mouthfeel, noticeable but at the same time polished tannins, as well as a balanced and polished aftertaste. Young but fresh and balanced, and therefore possible to enjoy already if decanted, 92+ p.
These tasting notes are based on a sample that had spent a couple of hours in a decanter. A sample from a freshly opened bottle was similar in the nose, but more closed on the palate, with more prominent tannins and less minerality. But I suppose that all that are used to Piemontese wines already know that if you can’t keep you paws away from a young Barolo, thorough decanting is to be recommended?
As I mentioned, this an exceptionally fine wine for its price. This is an elegant rather than a powerful Barolo that is classical in an accessible interpretation. By that I mean that the tannins are less tough than could be expected for a wine originating from the Serralunga d’Alba village (which tends give tougher wines than e.g. La Morra). The excellent 2013 vintage interacts with producer style of Principiano in a very pleasant way! This vintage is on the cool side, with good acidity and freshness. The previous vintage with a similar profile was 2010. 2011 was more on the hot side (but not massively so), 2012 wasn’t as good but produce “charming” wines that are accessible young. 2014 isn’t very good in Barolo (but more than OK in Barbaresco), and 2015 is on the hot side.