Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga 2018
Bright garnet red with slight orange reflections. Intense and pleasant hints of plum and cherry blend sinuously with balsamic nuances of mint, tea leaves, dried flowers and blond pipe tobacco.
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Though firm, there is an elegance to this red, whose flavor profile ranges from strawberry and cherry to tobacco and tea. Taut and linear, with fine balance and a long, red fruit, stone and savory aftertaste.
This delicate, midweight wine opens with scents of fresh cherry and dewy rose petal that lead into tangy red berry flavors brightened by a twist of orange zest. Some dark mineral tones emerge with air, but this is a wine to enjoy in the next five years.
Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy has been owned by the di Grésy family since 1797. The estate includes four properties located in Langhe and Monferrato, home to Piedmont’s greatest wines. Before the 1960s the estate operated like a traditional farm, producing livestock, vegetables and fruits - including grapes. At the time, the grapes were sold to the finest wine producers in the area, as was the tradition in the Langhe. In the early 1970s Alberto di Grésy realized the potential of his vineyards and decided that he had to vinify his own grapes.
In 1973 he produced his first vintage with the objective of transferring the class and character of the terroir, vineyards and varietal into the bottle, using the best available technology and respect for tradition. In 2013 Alberto’s son and daughter, Alessandro and Ludovica di Grésy began their adventure in the family’s winery working alongside their father. To this day, Marchesi di Grésy only vinifies grapes coming from their properties, 111 acres of vineyards divided among the Martinenga, Monte Aribaldo, La Serra and Monte Colombo estates.
Of exceptional note, the Martinenga vineyard is one of the Langhe’s finest and the largest single owned "monopole" in the region and has been owned by the di Grésy family since 1797. Martinenga is known for producing some of the finest cru-designated Barbareschi. It is planted with the Nebbiolo sub-varieties Lampia, Rosé and Michet, whose mix produce the most elegant Nebbiolo wines. With its southern exposure, blue marl soil and elevations from 820 to 918 feet, the Martinegna cru possesses ideal growing conditions and allows Nebbiolo fruit to reach full maturity even in difficult vintages.
The Monte Aribaldo estate, the first to be property of the family dating back to 1650, rises between Treiso and Barbaresco and overlooks the valley of Martinenga. Dolcetto d'Alba, Chardonnay and Sauvignon are grown here, at an average elevation of 1,200 feet. The La Serra and Monte Colombo vineyards in Monferrato are planted with Moscato d'Asti, Barbera d'Asti and Merlot (Monferrato Rosso). The clay-based soils here and the microclimate are optimal for the finest red wines.
The vinification and aging of all four estates occur at Martinenga and in 2000 the family decided to expand the cellar to facilitate this. In order to minimize the environmental impact on the surrounding hills, the cellar was built entirely underground. In October 2019 the family opened dai Grésy in Langa, a luxury agriturismo and spa located at the Monte Aribaldo estate.
A wine that most perfectly conveys the spirit and essence of its place, Barbaresco is true reflection of terroir. Its star grape, like that in the neighboring Barolo region, is Nebbiolo. Four townships within the Barbaresco zone can produce Barbaresco: the actual village of Barbaresco, as well as Neive, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d'Elvio.
Broadly speaking there are more similarities in the soils of Barbaresco and Barolo than there are differences. Barbaresco’s soils are approximately of the same two major soil types as Barolo: blue-grey marl of the Tortonion epoch, producing more fragile and aromatic characteristics, and Helvetian white yellow marl, which produces wines with more structure and tannins.
Nebbiolo ripens earlier in Barbaresco than in Barolo, primarily due to the vineyards’ proximity to the Tanaro River and lower elevations. While the wines here are still powerful, Barbaresco expresses a more feminine side of Nebbiolo, often with softer tannins, delicate fruit and an elegant perfume. Typical in a well-made Barbaresco are expressions of rose petal, cherry, strawberry, violets, smoke and spice. These wines need a few years before they reach their peak, the best of which need over a decade or longer. Bottle aging adds more savory characteristics, such as earth, iron and dried fruit.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area, as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Somm Secret—If you’re new to Nebbiolo, start with a charming, wallet-friendly, early-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba.