Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" Piedmont Italy

1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" Piedmont Italy
Suggested retail price $75-$80 (seen at $110)
Distributed by Michael Skurnik Wines in NYC

Despite the fact that Robert Parker Jr. said: "One of Piedmont’s new superstars...", Luigi Pira is, for me, one of the great classic of Barolo's producers.Probably because it was established in the early 1950s, even if at first the estate only produced and sold grapes.

Therefore and although, they were not bottling their own wines, vinegrowing and winemaking were the two passion of this family own winery; which, somewhat, makes me feel that, even if fairly new as Barolo producer (since the early 90s), they produce complex, structured classic Barolos that have nothing in common with the jaminess of certain new Barolo's producers. But I need to admit, I'm in love with this winery and I really enjoyed most of their 2001s and 2004s Barolos, and found them more balanced and focus than other few New world oriented Barolo producers. (I'm looking forward to taste their 2007s).

However, let's get back to the winery. Later on, wine was produced at winery and then sold in bulk to local negociants. It is only since a few years ago that the estate started ageing and bottling its own wines.

Giampaolo Pira recently took the reins at his family’s eight-hectare estate, overseeing the cellars while brother Romolo and father Luigi maintain the vineyards.

Pira’s holdings are in the three most prestigious crus in the Serralunga commune: “Margheria,” “Marenca," and “Rionda.”

The first Barolo was produced only as recently as 1993, but since then, the family has racked up accolades and high scores from the worldwide press. Of the two Barolos that have been produced up until now, the “Margheria” (aged 30% in barrique) is more structured and full-bodied, while the “Marenca” (aged 50% in barrique) is beautifully sumptuous and rich at a young age but will develop over the next 10-15 years – it was called “flawless” by the Gambero Rosso.

Their opaque Dolcetto is one of the most intense and complex of all skurnik's Barolo-producing estates, featuring the telltale fine tannins of Serralunga and astonishing length, while their oak-aged Barbera is both fruity and powerful.

The 1996 Luigi Pira Barolo "Margheria" is a great classic of their debut. The robe of the wine is quite dark for its age and especially for a 96 vintage. It has some orange taint reflects in the rime, normal for this type of wine. The nose has great ripe red cherry and tertiary aromas, like forest floor, mushroom, black truffles, pencil shave, spice, earth and minerals. The palate follows with the same type of flavors. It is very focus, clean, with a vivid acidity and very good tannic structure. The oak tannins are very integrated and smooth. The finish is long, lush and bright in the same time with layers of earthy notes and mineral. Love it.


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