Nebbiolo Time Machine: Castaldi Pianazze
I recently found myself at odds with some contemporary advice that one need simply look north of the Langhe (land of Barolo and Barbaresco) to easily find great examples of Nebbiolo for $15 or less. This is simply misleading. In the USA, in the year 2022, you will not find much Nebbiolo from any region for less than $20, let alone Nebbiolo wines that you should be giving special attention. I said "maybe in 2005?"...
... but I forgot about Francesca Castaldi's fabulous Pianazze, a pure Nebbiolo wine from just outside the boundaries of the Fara DOC of Alto Piemonte. When it is available, we jump on this little beauty. It comes from a small plot of vines, less than 1 hectare, that are farmed organically and hand harvested. Unlike a more grand expression of Nebbiolo, it is macerated for just 5 days and fermented and raised in stainless steel before it is released young. You still get gorgeous Nebbiolo aromatics and a brush with Nebbiolo muscle, but the point here is to make something focused on fresh fruit and easy to drink now. Many of you have been very happy to see that it has at last returned. For those of you who don't know yet... welcome to 2005.
Francesca Castaldi vino rosso 'Pianazze' 2020 - $15
Aromas of stone fruit distillates, sweet red cherry, overripe strawberry, bee pollen and minty herbs, a little licorice and petrichor too. Exuberant and juicy on the palate, lots of fruit, Nebbiolo's trademark tannins come through and grip, but there's plenty of fresh primary fruit to keep them from being obtrusive. This has lots of ripe fruit but the overall impression is of elegance and lightness. Crisp ripe fruit, fine tannins and subtle minerality contribute to a lively and vivacious finish, the purity of the fruit notes is gorgeous, something unexpected in such an inexpensive wine.
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