Anna Maria Abbona & Paola Navello
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of tasting at the Anna Maria Abbona winery in Farigliano, close to Dogliani. Arriving unannounced with a great friend of mine, Franco Fiorino, we were warmly greeted by Paola Navello who gave us a quite spectacular tasting of the whole range of their wines. A few minutes later we were joined by Anna Maria Abbona herself, a charming and gently spoken lady with an obvious passion for both the land and her wines.
The company was started back in 1936 by Anna Maria’s grandfather, Angelo who purchased the Maioli vineyard. The estate was later increased by her father Giuseppe but rather than making wine himself, the grapes were taken to the local cooperative cellar for vinification.
In 1989, Giuseppe thought he would grub up some of his vineyards, an idea not being well received by Anna Maria so together with her husband Franco Schellino, they decided to give up their careers and return to their roots to make wine and tend the vines. Now it is a true family affair with father Giuseppe still helping out in the vineyards and with sons Federico and Lorenzo helping their parents.
Dolcetto di Dogliani has long been regarded as one of the finest Dolcetto wines available due to its fruity qualities, but back in 2005 it was elevated to D.O.C.G. status and now it has become more sought after than ever. Anna Maria Abbona makes one of the finest examples in my opinion, offering wines rich in fruit and unmarked by over-extraction and wood. Below are the tasting notes I made at the time.
Langhe Nascetta “Netta” 2016 Nascetta is an indigenous variety more usually planted around Novello. The vines are still fairly young and only about 4000 bottles are produced on the estate. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at between 16 to 18 degrees C it is then aged for about 6 months before bottling. To preserve the freshness, no malolactic fermentation is done. The aromas were quite desceet and the palate also but the wine was perfectly balanced with a fairly long finish. It’s a wine to drink either by itself or with light fish dishes or cheeses. Price €10.50
Langhe Riesling “L’Alman” 2015 Again a wine made from young vines (9 years in this vintage) this time from the San Bernado vineyard.The name Alman translates from the Piemontese dialect as “the German” with this being the more usual origin of Riesling. In fact in the Langhe, the soils give a quite closed form of this usually aromatic variety of grape. The nose was again quite discreet and also the palate but some good mineral notes support the light fruit. For me this is a wine that will benefit from some more time in bottle to allow the complexity to develop. Price €10.00 per bottle.
The San Bernardo Vineyard and Chapel
Vino Rosato “Rosa” 2016 100% Nebbiolo that is made without any skin contact thus the wine is quite light in colour but certainly not in flavour. As well as some perfume of small red fruits, there were also some aromas of peach and apricot. Gastronomic in style with plenty of fruit on the palate, good balancing acidity and some saline mineral notes beneath. An excellent rosé that could be drunk either as an aperitif or with an array of anti pasti or salmon. Price €9.00 per bottle.
Langhe Dolcetto 2016 This is the simplest of their range of wines made from the Dolcetto grape and made with everyday drinking in mind. Coming in at 12.5% alcohol this really is a quaffing wine. Moderate colour with good fresh ripe fruit immediately obvious on the nose. The palate is also fresh and lively with some light hints of spice behind fruit. The finish too is lively and fresh and this is just the wine to drink throughout a lunch or dinner. Priced at just €6.50 a bottle, you won’t break the bank either. See the notes on lunch when we drank the 2015 vintage.
Dogliani D.O.C.G. “Sori dij But” 2016 This is the flagship wine of the cantina and the wine that made me want to go and taste the entire range at the estate. The wine comes from grapes grown in several different vineyards with vines that are between 40 and 45 years old. It’s unmistakably a Dolcetto from Dogliano, quite structured and packed with fruit. The nose is quite intense with red fruits dominant, raspberry in particular. The palate is bold, chewy and laden with dark fruit flavours and hints of almond. Perfectly balanced with tannins that are ripe, the finish is true and long with some spice coming through. A great wine to drink throughout a meal and bold enough to stand up to rich flavours. Well priced for a wine of this quality at just €8.50 per bottle.
Dogliani Superiore D.O.C.G. “Maioli” 2015 This single vineyard wine, planted in 1936 and 1943, is the oldest of the estate and now gives high quality fruit albeit in low quantities. Vinified and aged (12 months) purely in stainless steel, this is a wine that should grace every serious cellar. The colour is a deep ruby red, the nose is bold and expressive with some notes of violets and spice above the dark fruit. On the palate it is full-bodied, ripe and complex with plenty of ripe tannins to support. It is still a youngster and is sure to age gracefully for a good 5 to 10 years if cellared in good conditions but I enjoyed drinking it even now for its sheer youthful vigour. €12.00 perbottle.
Barbera d’Alba 2016 Made from grapes grown in La Morra, this is a very easy-drinking style of Barbera made and aged only in stainless steel allowing the pure fruit flavours to shine through. Red fruits dominate the nose with hints of beeswax and meat. Delicious on the palate with notes of violets above the fine ripe fruit. Well balanced and fresh. Priced at €8.50 per bottle.
Vino Rosso “Scavis” Made from a blend of 80% Barbera from the 2014 vintage and 20% Nebbiolo from the 2012 vintage, the wine is not allowed to be called a Langhe Rosso. Nevertheless it’s certainly of Langhe origin and this is evident in both the aromas and taste. Quite savoury when following the Barbera, it has been aged in large wooden barrels for 2 years so the fresh style has now gone. I must say that although the quality of winemaking was obvious, this was the only wine that didn’t set me on fire. But don’t be put off by my note, we all have different palates. €8.00 per bottle.
Langhe Rosso “Cadò” 2013 Made from 90% 70 year old Barbera vines and 10% Dolcetto, after vinification in stainless steel it was aged in wood – 2/3rds in large botti and 1/3rd in small French barriques.Quite international in style, the ripe fruit nose is certainly lifted by the Dolcetto element. The palate is full and robust, generous and long lasting in the aftertaste. A wine well worthy of ageing a little to develop more complexity. Priced at €17.00 per bottle.
Langhe Nebbiolo 2014
Another wine made from relatively young vines but not lacking class. After fermentation the wine was aged for 24 months in traditional botti. The aromas are fine and very Nebbiolo. Some meat, roses and violets and touches of spice. The palate is savoury, fine and meaty with a perfect balance between fruit, acidity and tannin. Priced at €13.00 per bottle.
Barolo D.O.C.G. 2013
The source of this wine is Castiglione Falletto, often renowned for it’s power, but here Anna Maria has crafted a fine and elegant wine that is a true joy to drink. After fermentation the grapes were allowed to macerate for around 3 weeks. Ageing was done for 30 months in Slavonian oak botti of 1000 litre capacity before bottling. The nose is fine, elegant and with the hallmark of Barolo firmly imprinted on it – ripe, savoury and with some notes of leather. On the palate it is ripe but not sweet, savoury but not austere. An excellent wine with plenty of class. The finish is long and structured. Price €30.00 per bottle.
All in all this was and excellent tasting of a top class range of wines. When we finished and said our thanks and goodbyes, we journied on a few kilometers to Murazzano where we had lunch at Osteria Ra cà’d Baruc, a traditional restaurant in the Alte Langhe. The food was excellent with four antipasti, two pasta dishes and two main courses plus a touch of cheese. And of course a bottle of Langhe Dolcetto from Anna Maria Abbona 2015. The wine compared to the 2016 had lost none of the vibrant fruit and freshness and was a total joy to drink with the various plates.