Stellar wines from Italy’s Piedmont region

The Langhe wine region in Piedmont, in northwest Italy, is famous for Barolo and Barbaresco—complex, brick-hued reds made from the late-ripening Nebbiolo vines planted in the area’s clay-rich soil. The fabulous 2011 harvest, promising refined tannins and a powerful perfume, has now been released to the market, so it’s time to stock up on the “wine of kings, king of wines.” Here are three options:

Barolo Arione 2011. Hailing from the organically minded Gigi Rosso’s vineyards in Serralunga D’Alba, the heart of the Langhe, this wine is full-bodied and intense. Aged in Slavonian oak, the bouquet supplies liquorice, cherry, and violets, while the rounded tannins are accompanied by mineral notes on the long finish. Lay down for a minimum of 10 years.

Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano 2011. The Barbaresco is typically less heavy than Barolo, which possibly explains why many Italians assert a preference (often lowering their voices as they do so) for the lighter Nebbiolo expression. This—the last vintage from Santa Stefano to be produced by the lauded Bruno Giacosa—is a classic Barbaresco, offering sour cherry, wild strawberry, and red rose notes underscored by spice. Ready to drink this year. 

Barolo Cannubi Boschis 1990. Also ready to drink now, this is the wine that established vintner Luciano Sandrone’s reputation. The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker awarded it 99 points and described it as “amazingly rich, superbly balanced, pro-found Barolo that is crammed with flavor.”