Brezza. Barolo 'Sarmassa'
Everything about this wine is just slightly exaggerated, the deep-flowing blueberry and sloe lifted with ripe herb, camomile and old rose. The tannins are mature and full, there is no denying that this is a hot vintage wine, however the balance is extraordinary, it is an astonishing wine.
2015 is not a vintage of ‘across the board’ excellence: July and August were seriously hot with the temperature dropping off through September and October, in many ways it is not unlike 2012. The best wines of the vintage have remarkably concealed tannins and elegant fruit, their freshness may have much to do with plentiful snow and rain over the 2014/2015 winter. The media reaction to the vintage is mixed, generally I prefer the 2016, though the best of the 2015 are magnificent.
Forceful depths of fruit, salami, bramble, sloe with floral aromas lifting the wine. 13.5%
The potential in this wine is huge, the underlying blueberry and ripe brambly fruit is incredibly detailed. At this stage the tannins are young, so the wine needs a little time to reveal its full potential.
The blue clays and the particular exposure of Sarmassa has defied many of the challenges of the 2014 vintage, it is just that bit warmer and better protected from the wind. There was no Barolo Sarmassa Riserva made in 2014, the very best fruit is in this wine and I suspect it is one of the best wines of the vintage, a great wine by any standard.
From the 2015 vintage, Sarmassa was certified as organic.
Sarmassa is a historic ‘cru’ (vineyard), considered by elders of the region to be every bit as good as Cannubi. The soils are white marl, relatively free of sand and infertile, known locally as ‘tov’. This land is especially prized in hot years for its excellent water retention, a quality that puts vines under less stress. Brezza owns land on the Vigna Bricco side where the wines are famed for expressing a solid, classical character.
The vineyard is at an altitude of three hundred metres and faces south to southwest. The vines (Nebbiolo clones called Lampia and Michet) were planted in 1941 and 2000 using a traditional Guyot system at a density of 3700 plants per hectare yielding around 60 hectolitres per hectare.
The grapes are handpicked in October, de-stemmed, crushed and fermented in steel tanks using native yeasts. This takes between eight and nine days with frequent pumping over. The wine is then taken off the skins and goes through malolactic fermentation in steel tanks, after which it is moved to 30 hectolitre Slovenian oak botti where it remains for a minimum of two years. Then the wine is tasted to determine an appropriate bottling date. Once bottled it is kept for a further year in a temperature controlled cellar at about 15°C.