As beloved as the great French appellations are among my colleagues, few wine regions have been as captivating over the last couple of years as Piemonte. As its name suggests, Piedmont (the English spelling) is the northwestern Italian region that is surrounded by mountains on three sides. With its dramatic, rolling hills and sweeping views of snowcapped peaks in the distance, this is one of Italy’s most picturesque regions, which is vastly underrated when it comes to tourism and the attention given to its singular wines. Take the two producers below, for example. For years, Massimo Benevelli and Guido Porro have turned out gorgeous bottlings that, in terms of beauty, complexity, and age-worthiness, can reach the same heights as the great reds of the Rhône, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. And yet these humble vignerons don’t attract half of the attention received by their peers in those places. Vintage 2016 will be the turning point for these outstanding vignaioli. Do not miss what two world-class producers can do with perfect growing conditions.
For six generations, Massimo Benevelli’s family has farmed the southeastern-facing hillside cru of Ravera in southeastern Barolo. Massimo, now forty-one, has worked among its vines since he was fourteen, and he knows exactly how to translate this distinctive terroir, which produces wines with the structure and concentration that epitomize great Barolo from Monforte. None of the soul has been buffed out, but notes of black cherries, forest floor, and blood orange emerge even more polished than usual. Truly phenomenal.
Six miles north of Benevelli, Guido Porro has been laser-focused on the slice of Barolo called Serralunga d’Alba for decades. A few years ago, Guido seized an opportunity to farm a tiny sliver of Serralunga’s historic Vigna Rionda vineyard. He paid dearly for half an hectare of what is the Romanée-Conti of Serralunga, and his rendition of this hallowed site is worth every cent. His other Baroli are outstanding. This one is a masterpiece you will want to enjoy at several stages throughout its decades-long life.
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