At Stannary we love working with historic estates – estates passed down through multiple generations of the same family, whose cellars might contain dust-caked bottles made by the great-great grandfather of the current incumbent. But it’s also our job to be on the lookout for new producers on a steep upward trajectory. Enter Agricola Brandini, one of the most compelling estates to have emerged from Barolo in recent years.

Established in the commune of La Morra in 2007 by Piero Bagnasco, Brandini is today managed by his daughters Giovanna and Serena. Giovanna is the partner of our great friend Carlo Mondavi (grandson of Robert and proprietor of RAEN Winery in Sonoma). Together Giovanna and Carlo produce Sorì della Sorba, an exquisite single-vineyard Langhe Nebbiolo of which we will offer the 2020 next week.

Given the quality of Sorì della Sorba, we had high expectations when, last month, we finally tasted the range of 2016 Baroli from Brandini, yet the wines exceeded those expectations – they are simply stunning. Since taking the helm, Giovanna and Serena have been fine-tuning the estate, not least by converting its 18 hectares of vineyards to organic farming and experimenting with whole-bunch fermentation to achieve extra freshness and elegance.

The Brandini estate in its current guise may be a mere teenager, but the majority of its vines are over thirty years old. Brandini takes its name from the Cru in which the winery is located, and the grapes grown here are bottled under the name R56 (you’ll find Giovanna’s explanation for this name alongside the tasting note). The estate also has holdings in Annunziata, which adjoins the world renowned Rocche dell’Annunziata.

We are today delighted to offer both of these single Cru wines alongside the multi-site Barolo del Comune di La Morra, a representation of the commune as a whole. All three wines hail from the outstanding 2016 vintage. There is a clear, terroir-driven distinction between the trio, but they are united by a house style that favours approachable, intensely aromatic Barolo wines with supple tannins and refreshing, well-integrated acidity. They will deliver a huge amount of pleasure at every stage of their development.

Agricola Brandini is an immensely exciting addition to the Stannary portfolio, and we are proud to have been appointed exclusive importers of the estate’s wines in the UK. The wines offered today are due to ship in early 2022.

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2016 Barolo del Comune di La Morra

6x75cl – £240 IB • Drink 2021 to 2028

Sourced from a handful of plots around the commune of La Morra, where the prevalence of sandy soil typically results in expressive, open-knit wines of which this is a fine example. The nose is characterised by floral, redcurrant and incense aromas, while the palate combines lively acidity with pliant tannins. Fermented in stainless steel with three weeks’ maceration on the skins, this wine was then raised for 24 months in large oak botte.

2016 Barolo R56

6x75cl – £360 IB • Drink 2023 to 2032

R56 hails from a single vineyard adjacent to the winery in the Cru of Brandini. Giovanna points out that altitude is key here: at 450 metres, it’s a well-ventilated site and notably cool at night. The soil contains a touch more clay, resulting in a wine of extra concentration versus the ‘village’ Barolo, but again the R56 is fruit-forward, with a wealth of ripe red fruit on the palate. So far, so enticing; but its class is truly reflected in this wine’s persistence and stony finish. Four weeks maceration in steel tank was followed by 30 months in botte. As for the name, Giovanna explains thus:
‘In 2010 in September we got hit by a bad hailstorm that destroyed a big part of our crop. After the storm we went in the vineyard and cut down all the clusters that were damaged and that year we picked 56 quintals of grapes (usual is around 80). So the name stands for “Resa 56” (Yield 56). It was definitely a sad story but it was also serendipitous because we learnt that with a selection on the grapes during the last month of ripening we were getting a better concentration of aromatics and the character of this vineyard was coming out to the next level. So every year we do this selection manually around the first week of September in order to preserve and capture this unique site of La Morra.’

2016 Barolo Annunziata

6x75cl – £360 IB • Drink 2024 to 2035

Grown mid-slope in the Cru of Annunziata this is a more high-toned, linear rendition of Barolo, owing largely to the higher concentration of limestone here. The nose is characterised at present by lifted rose petal and balsamic aromas. There’s plenty of inviting, ripe fruit on the midpalate, but the satisfying firmness of the tannins advise tucking it away for a few years at least. Like the R56, it was raised for 30 months in botte.