Private Collection: Canonica, Cappellano, Sandri

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Canonica, Giovanni 2009 Barolo Paiagallo

Gianni Canonica has just a couple of acres of Nebbiolo vines in Paiagallo (there’s a drop of very good Barbera, but he saves that for his family and friends). His backyard borders on Bartolo Mascarello’s, and Bartolo (and Maria-Theresa) and Giuseppe Rinaldi  are his wine mentors and friends; if you can imagine them making a very small volume of wine then you begin to understand Canonica.

The 2009 shows some softness associated with the vintage, but the wine is pretty powerful with intense fruit and freshness.  Spice, mint, fennel on the nose – very appealing actually – along with some earth and early truffley-ness. Tons of lovely rich cherry fruit on the palate along with clean earthiness make for real complexity and intensity; somehow the final impression is one of real elegance. Way above expectations for the vintage and a wine for the cellar. JW

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Canonica, Giovanni 2010 Barolo Paiagallo

Some big news at Canonica: he’s added a parcel of vines in Grinzane Cavour and will have another 800 bottles of Barolo, thus increasing his production  by about 30%! I tasted Canonica 2010 at the cellar twice this spring, and as always the wine calls to mind some of my favorites, showing great finesse and a bit of edgy rusticity that adds complexity – think B. Mascarello, G. Rinaldi. It’s very classic aromatically; medium body with great freshness and intensity; savory with a bit of balsalm, mint, liquorice, and beautiful, rich wild cherry fruit. Overall a great success, reflecting the fine balance in the vintage’s best wines. JW

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Canonica, Giovanni 2011 Barolo Paiagallo

Typically austere, and very classic, very much a Canonica wine, and actually quite delicious. Good cherry fruit, intense but ripe tannin; not at all hot, and light-medium bodied, which is not an easy trick to pull off in 2011. I am really happy with this wine! Jamie Wolff

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Canonica, Giovanni 2012 Barolo Paiagallo

There may be new wine at Canonica, but nothing’s changed with the winemaking, which is still resolutely old-fashioned, and which yields a very old-school Paiagallo that needs real time in the cellar. The 2012 is no exception – it’s a firm, medium-weight wine, a touch austere now but with lovely aromas that are intense and floral with a lot of black cherry. The tannins are very fine and focused, and the wine has plenty of cut. Given the depth of the wine, it’s a good sign that it is showing elegant balance – a typically complex Canonica wine. Jamie Wolff

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Canonica, Giovanni 2013 Barolo Paiagallo

Wow, this is performing at another level entirely [from the Barolo Grinzane], with lots of camphor, and real intensity to the earthy underlay and herb-framed cherry fruit. Bright, juicy, and showing lovely purity in the mouth, this is vibrant and nervous with dusty ripe tannins. This is delicious, the tannins have a little herbal note that lends freshness. There’s a slight natural feel to this, but with such purity and persistence to the fruit. Gregory Dal Piaz

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Cappellano 2004 Barolo Gabutti Pie Franco

A true grand wine. Sweet fruit, stony mineral, earth on the nose with some dark tobacco/molasses notes; this is more solid and darker than the Rupestris. Very classic, tight, and long, with great balance between fruit and mineral. One for the cellar and for the record books. As you may know, the Pie Franco means pre-phylloxera root stock; in any case it's something magical. JW

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Sandri, Elio (Cascina Disa) 2008 Barolo Perno

Tight and sweet on the nose with menthol framed dark berry fruit framed with tight notes of old wood. Dark, fine and muscular in the mouth, this is tight, very fresh and young feeling, though showing signs of shutting down. With mature tannins and good acids, this hints at Monfortino with its tough yet integrated structure, and nuanced bitter cherry fruit barely concealing stunning minerality at its core. Tight as a rose bud. Killer wine that needs a decade, perhaps more. Gregory Dal Piaz
 

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Sandri, Elio (Cascina Disa) 2015 Barolo Perno

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

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