2002 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore


We often feature rare, collectible wines in our Cellar Favorites column. While it is undeniable thrilling to taste precious older wines, the reality is that few of us will have a chance to enjoy such vinous treasures. Perhaps even more importantly, the pure joy and pleasure transmitted by a gorgeous wine gently mellowed by the passage of time is not limited to bottles that cost a fortune and that only billionaires can afford.

I was reminded of that recently when I tasted Luciano Sandrone’s 2002 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore. As Piedmont fans know, 2002 was a brutal season. Severe hail in September decimated production after what had already been a cold, rainy year. I remember seeing entire hillsides basically wiped out and wineries with only a few of their tanks in use.

Conditions were also challenging in the Roero, where Luciano Sandrone makes his Nebbiolo d’Alba from the Valmaggiore vineyard in Vezza d’Alba, although hail was not an issue. Through severe cropping and selection, Sandrone made a Valmaggiore in 2002 that is truly eye opening. Deep, layered and expansive on the palate, the 2002 Valmaggiore possesses striking aromatic intensity, textural resonance and freshness. Sweet dark cherry, herbs, menthol and spice all develop in the glass, but it is the wine’s total sense of harmony that I find most impressive.  There are no hard edges or green notes at all. Not only is the 2002 Valmaggiore absolutely delicious, it is, quite incredibly, one of the best editions of this wine I can remember tasting! Readers can look forward to another 5-10 years of fine drinking. 93/Drinking window: 2018-2026