2016 Marchesi Alfieri, Costa Quaglia Nebbiolo, Piemonte, Italy
(£28, Decorum Vintners, 020-8969 6581, decvin.com)
I have long been a fan of Barbera d’Asti La Tota from the exceptional Marchesi Alfieri estate and the new 2018 vintage is a stunner (£18.95, decvin.com). In fact, this wine has kept me so satiated over the years that I have never ventured further into this starry portfolio. That was until a few weeks ago when I opened a bottle of 2016 Costa Quaglia and it was a eureka moment like no other in this lockdown year. I will remember this revelation as the strongest thread of nebbiolo connecting me to the region that I was prevented from visiting in 2020 thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With one of the most regal and plush palates imaginable, but one which takes a full hour to unravel in a decanter, this is a vinous work of art. Firm, dark and dusty when first opened, the velvety fruit starts to appear and then gathers unstoppable momentum, smoothing out and eventually hypnotising your senses. The blackberry, black-cherry and rose-petal notes are sublime and the pliant, generous texture is sheer heaven. Aged for 15 months in 500-litre and two-year-old Allier barriques, it is this careful selection of both feisty and mellow oak which is the reason why this sumptuous nebbiolo is so decadent and also so refined. I bet if you were served it blind, you would stick a sky-high price tag on its flavour – I certainly would.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)