Discover Punset in Piedmont
One of the many stand-out estates recently visited is that of Punset (meaning ‘small hill’ in the local Piemontese dialect). Back in the 1970s, owner Marina Marcarino’s family wanted her to be an engineer, but she strongly disagreed. Instead, she moved onto their farm (which had only ever been run as a hobby), with a view to taking it over, especially the wine-making side of things. Her parents relented on their demands, yet only with the proviso that she could make it work, and thereby turn a profit. Along came her first vintage, 1982…and in the end of year accounts, a surplus of 10 lira was recorded – victory!
She was off and away. Organic certification came in 1987, and all her agricultural approach became bio-dynamic from 1990 (and do google up her current guru, Masanobu Fukuoka – shades of Master Po from 1970s cult TV show, Kung Fu!).
What of the wine?
Well, Marina makes possibly the most elegant and, dare we say it, feminine Nebbiolo we have ever tasted, with such a charm and delicacy that one is immediately transported to Burgundy (we just LOVE it when a wine does that to us, think Montalcino’s Poggio di Sotto, or Christophe Semaska’s Côte-Rôtie, et al). This similarity with great Pinot Noir is crystal clear: not only is it that light, almost gossamer, texture, but also the fact that she has two plots (both of ‘cru’ status, by the way) that each deliver a classic contrast in style.
Consequently, if we were ever asked to defuse the perceived theory that Barolo/Barbaresco is a thick, tannic, wine, somewhat lacking in grace, Marina’s silky bottles would be the first to give evidence to the contrary, very much exhibit A.
Finally, she chooses only to release her wines when she deems them ready to drink. No shame there.
It will therefore come as no surprise when we tell you that we are completely smitten, these wines are utterly joyous, and if you’ve never experienced Barbaresco, this could not be a better way to open your account.
Barbaresco, Basarin, Riserva, 2013
We sometimes use the word ‘flow’ to describe how a wine can slip seamlessly over the palate. Here, there was flow in abundance. Soft, supple rose-hip fruit, just gorgeous, and the balance with the tannin and acidity was impeccable. Very complete, depth, complexity, everything you could want. And such poise, too. Despite the fact that it was the first tasting of the day, this was swallowed. Ready to be uncorked now, obviously, but another couple of years will see further blossom, and then onwards to 2030, no problem.
Barbaresco, Campo Quadro, San Cristoforo, 2011
Within the San Cristoforo vineyard lies the Punset plot, the ‘Campo Quadro’. Tremendous fruit on this wine. However, there’s a bit more meat, a tad less of the high tones of the Basarin, and there’s a lovely hint of oxtail, a touch of the beef consommé, at the back. There’s also a bit more weight, and we supposed that in rugby terms, we were probably talking the back-row, rather than the half-backs. Firm tannins, but perfectly integrated. Feel free to drink as soon as it arrives (30 minutes in the decanter a good call), but no rush.
All prices In Bond, exclusive of VAT and Duty.
Offered subject to wines remaining available.
E&OE, March 2020.