John Paul Kaminga
A True Favorite: Le Piane
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
One of the great wine estates in Piemonte, Le Piane is notable for so many reasons: sustainable and organic farming, a hands-off old-school approach in the winery, and simply delicious wines, but perhaps most notable is the estate's dedication to restoring the Boca wine region. Once the source of some of Italy's most expensive and famous wines, Boca was planted to around 1000 hectares in 1900, but by the time Christoph Kunzli arrived in the late 80s, there were only 10 or 20 hectares left. Widely admired for his role in reviving Boca, it is also very clear that Christoph makes some of the best wines in all of Italy. We feel privileged to work with Le Piane and they come as some of the most recommended bottles we have ever offered. The wines are incredible across the board, and the prices are ridiculously low. You're not a hoarder if you stock up on Le Piane, you're just very sensible.
We hosted Christoph about a year ago at our very last tasting before everything shut down. It was awesome. Christoph is a talented communicator and his wines were showing beautifully. We can't wait to have him over again, though that might be awhile.... if you want a little taste of Christoph today, there's a recent interview on YouTube right now. You can click here to watch it.
Today we offer just a couple wines from Le Piane: a new vintage of Maggiorina and the future legend 2013 Boca.
Le Piane 'Maggiorina' 2019 - $19
A blend, mostly Nebbiolo, but with a dozen or so other local varieties, some of which are so obscure that they are not officially recognized by the Italian wine bureaucracy. The 2019 is the best vintage yet, and if you like fresh zippy reds, you need to try it. Spicy, herbal and floral, with notes of pepper, cedar, fennel, and rosehips on the nose. Lots of fruit aromas as well: cherry, strawberry, blood orange. On the palate it is elegant and punchy at once, firmly dry and a little on the tangy side, but fresh juiciness keeps it friendly. The finish has a lot say: flowers, honey, citrus and berries, anise, sweet almonds, exotic spice.... how is this under $20?
Le Piane Boca DOC 2013 - $65
I'm glad there is not massive hype for Le Piane, as we get to keep their wines in stock without stressing over availability, but I wonder how long the situation will hold. If there was more interest in Le Piane, their Boca would always sell out immediately, and a vintage like 2013 would be tough to find. Deeming the vintage to be more serious than usual, Christoph actually released his 2013 Boca after the 2015 (note: no 2014 Boca was made, as the vintage was too tough). A blend of 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina, Le Piane's 2013 Boca is extraordinary, a monument for Alto Piemonte wine. Pure fruit is the focus: wild berries, plums, cherries, apricots. Non-fruit nuances are myriad: mint, roses, smoke, petrichor, clay, camphor, licorice, mushrooms. It is firm and serious on the palate, and although it is quite tannic, it is much more accessible than most Barolo or Barbaresco at this level (read: the highest level). It will remain young for many years, so decant it for a few hours if you want to drink it soon. If you're the type to cellar your bottles, you'll be able to follow this wine for a couple decades or longer. In the context of Piemonte's greatest wines, this is a steal. Nebbiolo collectors take notice!
Thanks for reading!