Antonio Vallana e Figlio, Barbera, 2018, Piedmonte, Italy

Off-piste: 91/100

To thine own self be true

In the late 1950s, in the town of Maggiora, 100 miles northeast of the Langhe, Italy, Antonio's son Bernardo was making Spanna, as Nebbiolo is known in Alto Piemonte.

It took its place easily alongside the wines of Giacomo Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello on the very short list of consistently great Piedmont producers at that time.

The family has continued to make not only Spannas, but also Gattinaras and Bocas, each from a particular zone of Alto Piemonte.

Up to today

Today, Antonio Vallana's great-grandchildren Marina and Francis are using many of the same traditional methods and vineyards. They fashion wines that would make their ancestors proud: wines of brilliant character that make no concessions to trends and are completely true to their place and history.

Those Barbera are monumental. Living dangerously, on the verge of Volatile acidity. High-toned, structured, sappy and savory Nebbiolo with 10% Uva Rara and Vespolina with a big aromatic profile of cranberry, raspberry, black tea, sandalwood and sweet exotic flowers.

It has a fabulous hint of sweetness on the mid-palate, and a savory, bittersweet finish redolent of stone fruits. Firm tannins throughout. Slightly bigger and sweeter, and slightly more tannic, on night two. Yoo wine.

Final verdict

Climate: Mediterranean

Soil: Clay

Flavours: Acetic

Structure: Angular

Style: Bold

Closure: Cork

Approach: Sustainable