Fattoria Giacomo Marengo
2001 Armirè Langhe Rosso DOC
Merlot •La Fontanazza - La Morra
What We Say
EXCEPTIONAL WINE ALERT!
Today’s exclusive wine is one of the best Merlots that we have ever had the pleasure to taste. This wine blew away our tasting panel and is a uniquely Italian expression of the varietal.
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Mission Codename: Tip of the Sword
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure a TOP SECRET exclusive wine from the Piedmont
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Fattoria Giacomo Marengo
Wine Subject: 2001 Armirè Langhe Rosso DOC
Winemaker: Emilio Marengo & Roberto Voerzio
Langhe DOC in the Piedmont overlaps the same regions as Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera d’Alba. The red wines from Langhe DOC must be made from Nebbiolo, Dolcetto or Freisa. That being said, two wine makers diverge from the DOCs specification to make their exceptions to the rule, Emilio Marengo and Roberto Voerzio, and Voerzio assists Marengo in his winemaking efforts.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve featured wines made from fruit from high-density vineyards. Today’s selection is also from a high density vineyard. The fruit for this wine were grown from a single vineyard just above Marengo’s Barolo vineyard and is planted in such a way that each vine only produces one or two bunches of berries. This results in fruit that is of exceptional flavor and quality.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A dark ruby and purple robe with blueish hues, a dark clear core and brick edges. Slow fat legs that are dense with color slowly creep down the edge of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Immediately after opening the bottle you’ll be hit by the deep and bold bouquet of this exceptional wine. Aromas of raspberries and red cherries are balanced, old-world style, over toasted vanilla oak, dark chocolate, a note of toast, roses and Italian tar.
Feel – This full-bodied wine is dry and velvet smooth with superfine sweet tannins, easy acidity and a dusty minerality.
Taste – Extremely well balanced and integrated round flavors of red cherries and raspberries with a touch of toasted oak, vanilla, dark chocolate and spice. Classic Italian tar, zest and ripe plum adds a kick to this elegant wine.
Finish – Long, clean and smooth with a rich and flavorful finesse, this old-world wine begs for another sip.
Conclusion – This is a wine that will forever change your impression of Merlot. Extremely elegant with tremendous finesse and a all the classic flavors you’d expect from a great Piedmont wine, Emilio hits a home run in this wine. Perhaps the best part is that this wine complements just about anything from pizza delivery to anything you throw on the grill.
In the movie Sideways the inside joke was on the character Miles, who said “if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any #$%@ing Merlot!” Well Miles’ favorite wine was Chateau Cheval Blanc (Castle of the White Horse) Saint-Émilion Bordeaux (with 40 percent Merlot), well, obviously Miles never tasted this wine, for this would clearly be his favorite.
Agent Free Run’s Tasting Notes and Report:
Agent Free Run just returned from a mission to the Piedmont and is a close confidant of both Agent White and Agent Baco Noir. Check our directory for the original mission report submited when we reviewed the Marengo Barolo.
This wine is the embodiment of concentration. It is apparent upon first pour from the deep ruby color with a touch of luminosity that emits from the center. The initial nose is such a kaleidoscope of complexity that it literally stops you. The first time I experienced this wine I thought to myself “What IS this?!” The Armire captures the very essence of the Langhe Hills, with the terroir literally pouring out. Yet, despite this huge presence of Langhe on the nose, one has to pause and ask, “how is there is slight hint of Right Bank in there?” I figured it out later, when I learned that this wine is 100% Merlot.
I was surprised, but not necessarily stunned to learn that. I have not heard of Merlot growing in the Langhe. After some research I discovered that the famed winemaker, Roberto Voerzio, is the only other winemaker, to my knowledge, to grow and vint such a wine in the area. It figures, he’s the consulting winemaker for Marengo, and all the Maregno wines are made at Roberto’s facility. These wines are even grown at similar super high density plantings as Roberto’s vineyards, except they do not retail for over $200!!
It is the nearly unheard of high density planting of over 4,000 vines per acre and the rigorous pruning and thinning to absolute world class standards that concentrates this wine. At a meager one pound of grapes per vine, the vines are able to produce fruit that is perfectly balanced and highly concentrated. The concentration translates directly as the palate is coated in the velvet viscosity of this hedonistic wine. With a cornucopia of fruit and flavor profiles, the Amire finishes as complex, yet elegant, as it started.
The result is one of the most profoundly focused wines and certainly the greatest Merlot I have ever had.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location La Morra and La Fontazanna where the grapes for this wine were grown can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – 2007 Mediterranean International Wine & Spirit Competition
About This Wine:
An extraordinary Merlot, single vineyard, made from 100% Merlot grapes from very old vines located in Piedmont, in the heart of the Barolo area, aged for approximately 24 months in small French barrels. This Merlot has a great structure, is elegant, full bodied, harmoniums, with a nose of rose, chocolate and red fruits and a lick of vanilla from small French barrels leading to a full body with sweet tannins and a complex, long-lasting finish. It has a lingering aftertaste with sweet tannins. This wine is only produced in 1000 bottles per vintage and only during the best vintages.
Winemaker’s Comments: Armirè is the nick name of my father’s family. They were weapon makers, when making weapons was a noble art (swords, etc.), not like it is now.
The wine is obtained from Merlot grapes cultivated at a very high density, around 10000 vines per hectare. The wonderful position, the low production per plant (around 500 gr) of the vineyard and the careful manual selection of the perfect grapes only provide vintages of the highest quality. The fermentation is very long (20-25 days), in small steel vessel, at controlled temperature (22-25°C) with frequent manual plungings. The malolactic fermentation and the successive ageing of the wine take place in new French barriques for about 24 months. When bottled, the wine makes a final refining in the bottle for at least 12 months at controlled humidity and temperature.
Wine Spy Label Intrigue:
The 2001 Armirè Langhe is officially labeled as a Langhe DOC wine. The Langhe DOC, which overlaps Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba and a few other DOCs requires its red varietals to be Dolcetto, Freisa and Nebbiolo. This wine is 100% Merlot. Read on to learn why…
When asked about this, our insider (a very high level asset) at the winery says “it is true, it is not allowed, in fact we do it but we do not declare that it is a Merlot on the label. This is a shortcoming of the admitted grapes for the Langhe Red DOC, in fact Langhe Red is in the same area of Barolo, and when the exposition is not right for the Nebbiolo grape, it is important to be allowed to cultivate grapes that mature before Nebbiolo. There are only two producers that make it: Roberto Voerzio and us.” Incidentally, famed Piedmont oenologist Roberto Voerzio is also Emilio’s oenologist.
About The Winery:
The estate of Giacomo Marengo located around the medieval fortress of Rapale on the south facing, sunny hills between Arezzo and Siena in Tuscany has 149 acres of 25 year old vines under cultivation. Giacomo Marengo cultivates all his vines according to the strictest biological standards, earning him the seal of the leaf on the back of the label.
The farm grows both the original grapes of Tuscany, ( Sangiovese, Trebbiano, black Canaiolo and Malvasia) as well as newer grapes to the area, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. All grapes are harvested by hand, the bunches thinned to provide maximum flavor. Each vineyard is harvested during the fall as the grapes mature, which can mean several harvests in an off vintage year.
After the grapes are brought to the winery, the red grapes are pressed gently, to remove stems and pits which might impart unpleasant tannins to the wine. The newly pressed wine is then put in inox or cement tanks, which are temperature controlled. Red wines are fermented 18 to 20 days, whites and rose wines are fermented 15 to 20 days at temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius to bring out the fruit.
The result are wines that are soft, full, and generous, with delicate red-berry fruit, enhanced by a backdrop of soft tannins.
Name of Wine: Armirè 2001
Designation: Denominazione Langhe Rosso DOC
Region/Vineyard: La Fontanazza – La Morra (Cuneo)
Varietals: Merlot 100%
Average Age of Vines: 9 anni
Altitude of Vineyard: 450 mt. MSL
Yield per hectare: 40 Hl
Annual Production: ca. 3500