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Tenuta Serradenari visit

Gabriella Spallino billed Serradenari as the highest vineyard in Barolo and, certainly, our old camper van didn't seem to enjoy the journey up the hill as much as it might have done. We had lunch in La Morra before the visit so most of the work was done. It is a shame that just behind the vineyard are all the telephone masts of the region but Gabriella explained that, as the highest hill around, Serradenari had little alternative but to host these. Still, the estate looks the other way, across the valley (an ocean floor in prehistoric times) towards the Alps. A stunning view.

We spent an hour walking (hiking) around the tiny estate which includes vineyards planted to Nebbiolo (of course) and Barbera but also Pinot Noir (Gabriella clearly has a passion for this variety and hopes, one day, to produce a world class mono-varietal Pinot) and Chardonnay grafted from vines in Meursault which already makes a fabulous wine with an Italian twist (I enjoyed it sufficiently to buy some for my own use). There is a small vineyard of older vine Nebbiolo and Chardonnay planted on sandy soils which produces stunning wines under the Giulia Negri label (these will be included in our next import!), next to the truffle forest.

A thirsty hour or so later, we had consumed a bottle or more of water and now it was time to taste some new (to us) wines, principally the whites. At room temperature it would be reasonable to expect these to be far too warm but, actually, fridge cold would have been far too far the other way. We agreed with Gabriella's suggestion that they would be best enjoyed around 15 degrees to allow the fruit to give its all.

The basic Chardonnay was fleshy and fruity with good acidity. A couple of degrees lower and I would have enjoyed drinking it rather than just tasting it (it is very hot today!) and I did sneak a small sip, I must admit. Then came the Giulia Negri Chardonnay, more obviously oaked but not overly so, with incredible flavour nuances, many reminiscent of the earlier walk around the vineyard. Clearly not a cheap wine at all but when Gabriella told me the price, I calculated it to be around £25 in the UK and figured it is not possible to get a Burgundy as good as this for that sort of money.

Finally, the jewell in the crown: the Giulia Negri Barolo 2007. We had tasted the 2005 and 2006 before which both showed immense promise behind the brooding tannins but this 2007, like the regular Serradenari Barolo from 2007 (from the vineyard at the top of the hill with more clay in the soil), is remarkably approachable. Some oak is evident but the fruit dominates, together with a sublime texture. With a slice of 30-month-old Parmesan to accompany the wine, we felt extremely privileged to be sitting in Gabriella's house enjoying this incredible wine with views of the snow-capped Alps across the valley floor.

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