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When we last visited Elio Sandri in May 2019, we tasted 28 wines, all variations on the 5 wines he bottles (Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barolo, and Barolo Riserva).
Elio is always testing the parameters of his winemaking, and he loves to share multiple versions of the same wine from different barrels, or the same wine from a bottle that’s been opened for a month, or his latest experiment.
This is the first time Elio has bottled “Ciman” (cement, in Piemontese) – Nebbiolo that could have been Barolo if it had been aged in wood; the wine spent over 48 months in cement (at least a year of that time outdoors!), and it is delicious. We only have a few bottles to offer, so we have to request a limit of one per person.
Perno is a hamlet in the town of Monforte that gives its name to a large area of surrounding vines; Disa is a subzone of Perno, and also the name of Sandri’s farm: Cascina Disa. The photo shows a view of the Disa vines looking across the little valley that separates Monforte from Serralunga – the vineyard on the opposite hill that wraps around the clump of trees is Gabutti; this gives you some idea of how close together these important vineyards are. Now Elio has added "Disa" to the label of bottlings made from the old vines near the house - a gorgeous mid-slope parcel.
Elio says that he asks the people who help him work the vines to slow down. “They should keep one hand in their pocket, and that way they can’t rush anything.” And as much as Elio is always thinking about how to improve his wines, they remain resolutely unmanipulated and old-school.
The wines offered here are all new to the market. Of course Elio thinks they’ll age well, but the wines have evolved to a point where he’s comfortable sharing them. You may well know that I’m a great believer in decanting both old and young Nebbiolo, and I think it's a requirement here; these are the kind of wines that require a long time to open, and they’re frequently even better the next day.
Visiting with Elio is a highlight of our stay in Barolo, and it always makes for a happy afternoon. Jamie Wolff
There are many reasons why I could never be a wine critic, foremost my general lack of discipline. At the time, tasting in Sandri's cellar, I knew perfectly well that when the time came to offer the wine that I'd want to use any notes I made. And yet, this is what I wrote: "Fantastic, complete, super-promising, buy at least a case of this." Well, perhaps that says it all? Sorry not to attempt to wax poetic, or at least descriptive! Jamie Wolff
This needed some air, after which it was delicious, open and light-to-medium bodied, with fine balance. Very good indeed. Jamie Wolff
Elio Sandri is still not the household name he deserves to be considering the extremely high quality of his wines. This bottling is entirely from grapes within Barolo that did not get selected for the eponymous bottling, so he uses them for this more entry-level bottling, ferments in steel, then ages in a combination of neutral wood and tanks for a short time. The nose is savory with notes of dried earth, sun-dried tomato, rhubarb, oregano, and the palate has more freshness, salinity, and present, but approachable tannins that make this a great current drinking Nebbiolo, especially with heartier fare. Michelle DeWyngaert
This wine has beautiful savory aromatics - floral, herbal, cherry, and great mid-weight energy. It shows the balance of good 2013s, with long ripe tannins, but it is really young, austere, and muscular- a very old-school Barolo with no old-school flaws. This is a current release, so we do have a kind-of head start in maturation, but it's a wine to cellar. If by any chance you have a child who was born in 2013, this will really sing at their 21st. Jamie Wolff
This is the first time Elio has bottled “Ciman” (cement, in Piemontese) – Nebbiolo that could have been Barolo if it had been aged in wood; this spent over 48 months in cement, and it is delicious. It’s really interesting to taste an aged “Barolo” that hasn’t seen wood, and the structure is a bit lighter than you might expect – it’s a pure and linear expression of Nebbiolo, very fresh, and not at all rustic. There’s beautiful black cherry fruit, stony rich earth, and delicate dried rose petal. Polished tannins give way to a very long finish – a terrific wine. Jamie Wolff
A great 2014 - of the current wines probably the most relaxed and accessible. No Riserva was made in 2014, so this took the best fruit from the Disa vines nearest the house. Super savory with herbs, quinine, lovely dark cherry fruit, and ripe tannins - this had been opened the previous day but was still perfectly fresh and lifted. Jamie Wolff
I've always thought that Sandri's Dolcetto was one of the best I've tasted - a perennial favorite. Jamie Wolff