Sandrone - Valmaggiore, Nebbiolo d'Alba

Valmaggiore, Nebbiolo d'Alba

Valmaggiore is the product of Luciano’s incredible passion for the Nebbiolo grape variety and the desire to show just how its expression can vary depending on the soil in which it is cultivated.  Just 15 miles away from Barolo, in the Roero region, Nebbiolo  produces a lighter structure and ripe, smooth tannins that are not unlike those of Pinot Noir. The wine drinks well from about age 6 to 12 but will easily last longer in the best vintages. This is not a “baby Barolo” or a second wine at all – it is a distinct interpretation of a completely different geographic winemaking zone. The wine shows delicious floral elements and red fruits, wrapped around a medium-weight structure with a long, delicious finish and modulated, ripe tannins.
 
The grapes used to make this wine are cultivated in one of the historical cru vineyards in the Roero district - Valmaggiore - situated in the municipality of Vezza d’Alba.  Valmaggiore is a project that took years to fully realize and is further evidence of the Sandrone winery’s complete commitment to the expression of great Nebbiolo-based wine. Sandrone’s Valmaggiore is a distinct site of exceptional terroir that was assembled over 8 years from almost 40 different previous owners. Luciano believed so passionately in the qualitative potential of this site that he was willing to wait years for parcels of this hill to become available. The last holdout sold in 1994, and at the end of that year the vineyard renovation and drainage projects (which had started years before) were completed. Now completely replanted and organized for maximum potential quality of fruit the resulting wines show the unique terroir characteristics of one of the best Roero sites.
 
The Roero is a different world from the Barolo: it is a wilder and less developed place when compared to the orderly rows of vines that blanket the Barolo. Deep forests hug the northern sides of the steep hills, and game runs wild, including foxes, boar and rabbit. The flat narrow valley floors are planted to fruits and vegetables. Typically the Valmaggiore is 3-9 degrees warmer than in Barolo, and spring arrives a week or two earlier.
 
The Valmaggiore hill itself is incredibly steep: a 100% grade (45 degrees) in places. The soil is comprised almost entirely of sand from shallow sea and beach deposits – fossils are common. There’s almost no organic matter in the soil and the vines have to grow deep down for nutrients. As the sandy site is so well drained, in dry years the vines may suffer. 
 
The steepness of the site prohibits any mechanical work – everything must be done by hand. The single-lane road that winds up through the vineyard allows access for a tractor to the top, but work in the rows on the plants is entirely done by hand. . At harvest, a specially designed “sled” which holds 10 picking crates at a time is winched up in the aisles between sections of the vineyard to haul up the just-picked grapes. 
 
Plants are closely spaced  for competition and to help hold the hillside up. A walk through the vineyard is an incredible experience. Because it is so steep, you can often see over the plants in the row below you, affording magnificent views of the vines and, on clear days, of the snowcapped Alps. The Sandrone Valmaggiore vineyard is a magical, special place and the wines that are made from these vines show all the uniqueness of the incredible terroir.
 
Each block is vinified separately.  After destemming and light crushing, the must is covered with CO2 for a gentle warm maceration of approximately a day.  Alcoholic fermentation begins about 24-36 hours later from native yeasts.  A gentle maceration takes place in upright open-top steel tanks for the first 7-9 days of alcoholic fermentation.  Immediately after alcoholic fermentation, which takes around 25 days, malolactic fermentation takes place in 500 liter French oak casks.  The wine is aged in these casks for 12 months, followed by 9 months bottle aging.  Around 1,400 cases are produced in a typical vintage.
  • 2011 Vintage

    2011 was a particular and unique vintage.  April was hot and the bud break was approximately 20 days ahead of normal. The season that followed had the same rhythm of anticipating by 20 days the flowering and berry set. Cooler weather in July with several rainshowers. However, a torrid second part of August was followed by an equally hot beginning of September “the warmest in 150 years”, with exceptional ripe fruit. The harvest was generally easy but most important was the work done in the vines in the previous months.

    • "Sandrone’s 2011 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore graces the palate with savory herbs, dried flowers, red cherries, licorice and mint. Already a touch forward, the 2011 looks to be best suited for drinking over the next handful of years, even if Nebbiolo can be quite deceptively in its ability to hold over long periods of time. Nothing in particular stands out, just the wine’s lovely sense of balance and poise.” 90 Points Vinous (Antonio Galloni)

  • 2010 Vintage

    • "Firm yet well-integrated tannins frame red cherries, sweet herbs, menthol and spices in this surprisingly large-scaled, broad Valmaggiore. Layers of fruit continue to build to the vibrant, layered finish."  92 Points Wine Advocate

  • 2009 Vintage


    • "The 2009 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore is striking. It flows from the glass with sweet red fruits, flowers, spices and herbs in a very representative expression of this site. This is a gorgeous, poised Nebbiolo with wonderful mid-palate sweetness and fabulous overall balance. A clean, saline finish gives the wine its focus and proportion on the finish." 92 Points Wine Advocate

  • 2008 Vintage

    From the climatic point of view, 2008 took us back to the Seventies with very rainy spring and summer which made the management of the vineyards decidedly difficult. Only thanks to the generous months of August, September and October the grapes were able to complete the ripening process in the best manner. The vintage 2008 undoubtedly rewarded the zones best suited to the cultivation of vines, and particularly those who invested in meticulous vine cultivation operations just at the right time.

  • 2007 Vintage

    In terms of winegrowing, 2007 was what can be described as a rather anomalous year. We can sum things up by saying that the period from January to September was the hottest in the last 10 years and it was only thanks to the milder months of June and August that a repetition of the torrid year of 2003 was avoided. As far as precipitation was concerned, we started off with a lack of water in the winter and remained under the average levels of recent years for the entire summer. Only the occasional storms, some of which were exceptionally violent, accompanied by the greatly feared hailstones, mitigated a summer which risked jeopardising a balanced vegetative cycle. In practice, we recorded a very early grape harvest, similar to that of 2003, but if we consider the fact the budding and blooming were early too, we can say that the vegetative cycle and consequent ripening of the grapes respected the normal durations, simply bringing everything forward by 15/20 days.  

    The grapes were harvested between the 14th and 21st of September, and after delicate maceration lasting 7-9 days and the completion of alcoholic fermentation, entirely in steel  (about 25 days), the wine was transferred to 500-litre casks made of French oak, which had already been used once or twice before, where malolactic fermentation took place. The decision not to use new wood is dictated by the desire to use wood as a container which allows the wine to “breathe” and evolve, without risking attacking the typical balance and aroma of this wine. The wine continued ageing in wood until December 2008, when it was bottled, producing 18,000 bottles and 300 magnums. 
     
    The 2007 vintage is distinguished by the richness of its perfumes, with the nose expressing all the complexity of the aromas. The potency of the vintage can be tasted in the mouth, and here too there is no lack of balance and elegance. The tannins, although gentle and smooth, encourage us to assume that this wine will age excellently. 
    • "Sandrone-s 2007 Nebbiolo d-Alba Valmaggiore reveals sweet dried roses, cherries, flowers and spices on an expansive, mid-weight frame. Ripe, refined tannins frame the elegant and subtle finish. In 2007 the Valmaggiore shows impeccable balance and tons of class." 90 Points Wine Advocate

    • "Medium red. Perfumed aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, minerals and flowers; a bit pinot-like. Then intensely flavored and perfumed in the mouth, with noteworthy purity to the tart red berry flavors. Finishes with firm, dusty tannins and excellent cut. This is already very sexy nebbiolo but I'd still give it a couple years in the cellar. Sandrone purchased this parcel in 1994 and replanted the vines in 2001 at a density of 9,000 per hectare." 91 Points International Wine Cellar

       

  • 2006 Vintage

    The alternation of hot and cold periods characterized the vegetative cycle of 2006.  Heat in May and June was very strong, but from August onwards the situation changed.  August 2006 was the coldest in 5 years, with marked differences between day and night temperatures and, thankfully, some rainfall.  By mid-September there were perfect harvest conditions.  Harvest took place from the September 28 to October 6.

    After delicate maceration in steel, the wine was transferred into 500L French oak barrels, which had already been used once, to avoid the risk of overpowering the wine’s aromatic quality.  Ageing took place 12 months in the same wood and 9 months in the bottle.

    • "Medium red.  Ripe cherry and flowers on the nose; began with some superripe notes but gained in purity and lift as the wine opened in the glass.  Ripe, elegant and dry, softening nicely with time in bottle.  Best today on the broad, pliant back half, which features suave fine-grained tannins and lovely persistence." 91 Points International Wine Cellar

    • "The 2006 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore is made from a vineyard in the emerging Roero district. It is an especially generous Nebbiolo in this vintage. Perfumed aromatics meld into super-ripe red cherries, spices, flowers and toasted oak. The wine offers outstanding depth and richness in a full-bodied, racy style." 90 Points Wine Advocate