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Filippo Gallino - last stop in Piemonte

Wednesday evening saw my last full estate visit - the rest of the time in Italy was more or less holiday (although a trip to Acqui Terme necessitated a visit to the Enoteca Regionale to familiarise myself better with the local Barbera di Monferrato wines amongst others). We got a bit lost in Canale - should you ever visit, look for signs to Valle Pozzo and you'll be OK.

When you arrive at Filippo Gallino, there is the feeling of the Deep South - a distressed row of houses with balconies overlooking a yard where the children amuse themselves by throwing up bottle tops and seeing where they land. It seems all the money is spent on the cantina and all the family must live here, several generations together.

Laura had driven off to look for us but returned just as we were trying out our Italian on her sister. Little English is spoken here except by Laura's husband Guglielmo who doesn't work for the family (except to help out with hapless English people like us). We went into the winery and looked around then into the tasting room.

The Roero Arneis is fresh and refreshing but it was the reds I had come for. The Barbera d'Alba had been a favourite in the 2009 vintage so I was keen to try the 2010: again, a good freshness in this wine which does not see any barrels. I preferred it to "Elaine" which is partially oaked and, I thought, a little baked. The fully oaked Barbera d'Alba Superiore 2009, however, was excellent: it had the rich Barbera fruit with its natural acidity well-checked by the barrels. Good now but with potential to develop. I had enjoyed the 2007 before (and had finished off my box of this just a few days before leaving for Italy) but the 2009 is better defined in comparison.

The Langhe Nebbiolo 2009 Licin, a cuvee created in 2007 in honour of Filippo's 70th birthday, was good (he got a better deal than cousin Elaine this year!) but I was looking forward to the Roero wines having limited experience of them before. The Roero 2009 is a big step up with good freshness and tannins which promise to melt away fairly soon to give up to the stylish fruit. However, new wine for 2008, the Roero Superiore 2008 Sorano is truly excellent, a new level of concentration and sophistication in my experience of this estate's wines. I only hope I will be able to afford to buy some when it is marketed!

We finished off with Birbet, a partially fermented, sparkling, not too sweet red wine made from Brachetto which has good acidity to cut through all the heavy reds tasted before. I commented that I had enjoyed a few glasses on Christmas Day before I was driving and that it had gone rather well with the turkey and trimmings. I said this had surprised me as I would ordinarily associate a wine like this with summer or the cheese board; they were not surprised!

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