2016 Vouvray “Le Portail”Champalou
France | Loire
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by Anthony Lynch
Assuming full direction of a Barolo estate at the tender age of twenty-four is an incredibly daunting prospect, but for Giulia Negri, the latest in a 150-year line of grape growers in the Langhe commune of La Morra, the challenge proved irresistible. Upon completing her studies and taking an inspiring trip to Burgundy that sparked her passion for fine wine, Giulia returned to the family estate motivated to learn all the secrets of the craft in her native Piemonte. She started small, releasing micro-cuvées under her own label, before taking over the totality of vineyard management and production in 2014.
In the heart of the Serradenari cru of La Morra—the highest point in the Barolo zone, with vineyards culminating at 536 meters above sea level—Giulia passionately pursues her goal of crafting Barolo with a Burgundian sensibility. She even inherited small parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero that her father planted on the estate’s cooler, north-facing sites, allowing her to pay tribute to the great wines of the Côte d’Or through the lens of Piemontese soil.
After her inaugural trip to Burgundy, Giulia returned no fewer than seven times over the ensuing year! Her in-depth study of the region gave her the tools to pay homage to its wines with a Pinot Nero of her own. Bright and chiseled, it offers lovely wild berry fruit and the fresh, earthy, signature common to Piemontese reds.
In the heart of the Serradenari cru of La Morra—the highest point in the Barolo zone, with vineyards culminating at 536 meters above sea level—Giulia passionately pursues her goal of crafting Barolo with a Burgundian sensibility. In fact, she even inherited small parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero that her father planted on the estate’s cooler, north-facing sites, allowing her to pay tribute to the great wines of the Côte d’Or through the lens of Piemontese soil.
But Nebbiolo reigns in these parts, and Serradenari yields a Barolo of regal pedigree. The elevation, coupled with a complex mosaic of soils unique to this part of the Langhe, sets the stage for Giulia to create Barolos marrying delicate floral aromas and elegant fruit with a deep mineral foundation. With fine-grained, tightly knit tannins, her seductive wines charm in their youth but have the structure for serious bottle aging.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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