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Up the hill to Manzone

Not a great start, as I subsequently discovered: I had got the wrong day! Mauro was busy for the first half hour but we had a guided tour of the cellars from his sister who has recently joined the Giovanni Manzone family estate. It is a fascinating place with an underground spring keeping the area naturally humid.

We went through most of the wines: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Barolo. Frankly, not a bad wine among them. Some highlights though: the Dolcetto 2010 La Serra is more complex and structured than most with good acidity and more tannin so can age well (10 years?). Good "purple" fruit, long and fragrant. The Barbera 2010 offers juicy fruit and a simple structure to back up the slightly sour cherry fruit: a good all-rounder. I still prefer the more complex Barbera Superiore 2009 La Serra which sees 16 months in tonneaux. It is a fuller, rounder wine with lovely juiciness and good complexity. The Nebbiolo 2010 Il Crutin is quite evolved but a fairly simple, easy Nebbiolo for everyday enjoyment.

Onto the Barolos. First the Castelletto 2006 which I have not tasted before. This wine sees 35-40 days maceration which helps soften the tannins. The fruit is quite evolved but the wine is more tannic than the 2007 (inevitably: it is a 2006). The vines are fairly young so expect great things with more age.

From 2007, two wines I know: Gramolere 2007 is forward but still tannic, made in a flambuoyant style but with good restraint. Long finish. The 2008 has a lovely fragrant nose, classic structure but is more pointed, less rounded. Quite tannic but only bottled a month ago.

Bricat 2007 has more fruit on the nose and quite smooth tannins. This wine is plush and rich - why wait? The 2008 has great potential, lovely fruit, excellent structure.

We finished with the Riserva wines: the Gramolere Riserva 2004, aged 40 months in oak has a deliciously evolved nose, balanced and fragrant. Extremely smooth and stylish - it almost calls out for some rusticity! A superb, highly refined wine - my wine of the tasting. The 2005 has a slightly fuller nose and is also exceptionally well balanced but slightly chewier than the 2004. Excellent.

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