Gianluigi Lano’s family has been farming grapes in the heart of Barbaresco for years, and when I say that, I mean it in the most Italian sense. They’ve been there since before unification was an idea. The Lano family farm rests in a valley at the bottom of the famed Rocche Masselupo hillside. Vines are planted into a mix of clay, sand, and limestone and varieties are a fairly traditional mix of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Freisa. For many generations, these grapes were sold off to be the backbone of a number of their neighbors' more expensive cru wines. It wasn’t until 1993 that Gianluigi made the decision to begin bottling estate wines under the family name, using old school methods in the cellar to best express the fruit that they meticulously cared for. His farming methods skew toward the more hardcore side of organic viticulture. Certified organic, he takes everything a step further, working with his son to plant a large number of nitrogen-fixing cover crops to improve soil structure, retain proper moisture, and promote the overall health of the five hectares they have planted to vine.
For the 2016 Lanöt, a blend of Barbera and Freisa comes from vines between 35-55 years old that separately spend between 12-18 months in barrel before bottling. There is no sulfur added during fermentation or bottling, but a small amount added after racking. This style of winemaking hearkens back to the 60s and 70s, when producers more regularly held wines back from release for an extended rest. Otherwise, we would potentially miss these wines at the peak of their maturity and integration. There is no bold fruit or grippy tannins when it comes to these wines, instead we get a nuanced and terroir-driven expression of native varieties as they were meant to be enjoyed. To me, this is the zenith of cool. This is a sturdy wine, but one that offers more elegance than expected. Tannins are not blunt, but precise and supportive. There remains a tension to the wine that revives a soupçon (sorry) of red and black fruit while also carrying olive, cedar, and hard-stemmed herb notes. This is the definition of ultra-classic Piemontese wine, standing in as the melody while the food keeps rhythm. Proper harmony could be found with mushrooms, pork, beef, and/or a hard cheese.