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Gianni Gagliardo from Langhe & Roero

Posted: Saturday, 18 February 2012 12:26

Gianni Gagliardo from Langhe & Roero

Feb 18 : Gianni Gagliardo, a highly respected Piemontese producer transited through Delhi on his way home from Singapore when Subhash Arora took the opportunity to meet this pioneer of Favorita white wines in Piemonte and producer a range of red wines from Barolo, over a private lunch along with his new importer, Rohit Mehra of Mohan Bros.

I had an opportunity to meet Stefano Gagliardo, the oldest son of the founder President of the La Morra (one of the Barolo communes) based Gianni Gagliardo in December 2008 when he visited me at my residence.  Although I visited Alba and La Morra on a few occasions after that and had occasions to taste their wines at the Albeisa tastings, I could not visit the winery. It was a pleasant surprise when Rohit told me that Gianni himself was coming to Delhi for a day and invited me for lunch with him at the Hyatt;  I adjusted my schedule immediately to be able to meet him.

A very affable person, Gianni is one of the few producers of Piemonte who have their own vineyards in Langhe (known for Barolo and Barbaresco) through his in-laws , and Roero hills (popular for Arneis white and Roero docg red) through his family. His wife’s (now divorced) family used to make finished wine earlier but sold the barrels to other reputed producers like Prunotto. But when he joined the business in 1974, he introduced a lot of improvements, made new investments and added new vineyards, paving way for Gianni Gagliardo winery in 1985.

Although the company owns  13 parcels of vineyards in Barolo communes –Barolo, Monforte d’Alba , Serra Lunga d’Alba and La Morra, Gianni has always believed in making a Barolo blend-from all his different parcels , except perhaps Cannubi. ‘We ferment grapes from each parcel  separately and age individually for a year. That’s when a team of five people taste wines from different barrel and blend accordingly, thus giving wine we think is the best expression of Barolo and what our customers like,’ says Gianni.

Although this might be at variance with the view of most artisan Barolo producers, he says with a smile, ‘many producers believe in a single vineyard Barolo but the  great winemaker an gastronomist Gigi (Luigi) Veronelli told me that he had been wrong in promoting the single vineyard concept earlier and that I was right and the blend was perhaps the best way of expressing a Barolo.’

Passionate about Barolo, he explains the difference between a good and great wine. Great wine defines the area and character of the producer also. Only a small producer can give this character. Best Barolo is usually from a small family only. Sometimes, the producers have a very good area of land in the region and that helps them make the top Barolo, he says, adding ‘we have good vineyards and a great place. Sometimes I go for elegance rather than aging and high acidity and body that some producers may like.’

Gianni started the ‘Asta del Barolo’ (Barolo Auction) in his winery 12 years ago. Today 14 producers take part in the event and it is organised by the Accademia del Barolo of which he is the President, at Barolo Castle, the 12th edition of which will be organised in May. ‘At €500 a person it may sound like an expensive event, but it includes one day of stay and a tasting of over 30 Barolos and a visit to a couple of wineries too,’ he clarifies as the President.

Gianni is quite excited about the Indian market in the long run. ‘Unlike in China and Russia where they drink our Barolo because it is fashionable, we find Indians wanting to learn about our wines and want to how they can be enjoyed with Indian food,’ he says.

Ask him about ‘Fallegro’ and his eyes light up. ‘That’s my baby’, he says. ‘It’s made from Favorita grapes which I brought into Roero 30 years ago when everyone thought I was crazy. Although a clone of Vermentino grown in Liguria, Sardinia and a few other areas, here in Piemonte it has totally different characteristics being inside and on sandy soil. Now it has become very popular throughout Roero because of the demand in the market. I consider myself the father of this wine and am really proud of it.

Fallegro is only one of the wines that the discerning wine connoisseurs have a chance to drink from this passionate producer with a long tradition of wine making in the family. Rohit Mehra, owner of Mohan Bros. says a select range that will also include Barbera d’Alba, Barbaresco and Preve Barolo Riserva, Barolo Gagliardo and a low alcohol dessert wine made from Moscato, Villa M.

The choice for premier Piemonte wines is increasing for the wine connoisseurs. And Gianni who came to India for the first time in the 90s when I first tasted his wine at an event organised at the terrace of Hotel Oberoi  and again last year,  loves India very much and promises to be back soon-or send his send Stefano once again while Alberto looks after the vineyards and the young Paolo helps in looking after the commercials. In the meanwhile, he leaves for the USA a day after ‘spending the night on my own bed,’ as he says.

Subhash Arora


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