I was in London yesterday for a pair of wine tastings. The first on my list was held at the recently-opened restaurant Gezellig: an establishment being met with rave reviews from my social media friends.
Upstairs at the restaurant on a mezzanine floor was to be found Luca Roagna and a tranche of his newly-released wines... as well as his grappa (best avoided; it wasn't that long since breakfast).
Luca Roagna snuggling up to an especially ancient-looking vine. His wines are quintessential Nebbiolo.
Following a pair of delightful white wines (a Timorasso from Derthona and a Chardonnay/Nebbiolo blend) I got stuck into the meat of Luca's Barbereschi. I will be the first to admit that this was not in any way a chore.
2014 was an extremely tricky vintage for virtually the entirety of this leggy realm. Cool and damp conditions ruled the growing season and, naturally, the wines reflect those conditions... At least they do in more-or-less all but two regions: Etna and Barbaresco.
Here in Barbaresco autumn sunshine and warmth turned the vintage around and permitted really very exciting things to be produced.
A note about the style at Roagna. It is thrilling to see wines of this colour being poured. They are so pale and luminous in the glass; so pale, indeed, that one cannot for one moment believe that they can have any real substance. However, nose and palate bear witness to extraordinary finesse and class. There is absolutely no lack of stuffing and density, yet they are thrillingly beautiful liquids for eye, nose and tongue.
2014 Barbaresco Gallina
£393 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-2028
This is paler yet: barely deeper than some rosés, yet that extraordinary ruby-gold that only Nebbiolo can be. This is a really scented wine of iron-like blood aromas, orange and red cherry fruit. Red apple, even. Aromas are dense and ripe and offer something darker with aeration, taking on some smoke and mint. This goes in the mouth ripe and dark, collecting a swelling grip of very, very fine structure. Red and black fruit in a palate exhibiting superb shape. Really lovely, this.
2011 Barbaresco Pajé Vecchie Viti
£792 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-2032
This older wine is much redder in colour than the younger wines tasted before. But it is still very pale in the glass: beautiful. Fruit aromas are very pure, very pretty, of red apples and currants and flowers. There's excellent fresh tang about a nose that is nuanced by a nut-like scent. This goes in the mouth ripe and plush, but quickly picks up dense, grippy-fine mineral tannins. And it becomes increasingly grippy throughout, increasingly mineral. Extraordinary length and a touch floral all the while. Dark plum fruit abounds. Superb sustain here. Comes across as a much younger wine, but is open and wonderfully bright.
"Roagna's 2011 Barbaresco Pajé Vecchie Viti opens with the most exquisite aromatics imaginable...captivating perfume, ripe, silky fruit and exceptional overall balance...pure and total finesse." Antonio Galloni