Grand Wine, Grand Larceny
2003 Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne
"This is an especially fresh, vibrant wine for the vintage, with tannins that are particularly refined. Sandrone's 2003 Barolos have developed remarkably, and today are among the most successful Barolos of the vintage..."
- Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate
I am confident that this is the only opportunity you will ever have to buy this wine at this price. Looking around the country, the average bottle cost of the 03 Sandrone Le Vigne is well north of $100.
Sandrone's 2003s are certainly, as Galloni says, "among the most successful Barolos of the vintage." They are also among the most delicious. The 2003 vintage in Barolo was about pleasure more than cellar treasures, and this wine really delivers pleasure. At today's price, it could be our Italian steal of the year.
The Le Vigne is one of Sandrone's top two wines - the estate doesn't make a riserva Barolo - the difference between the two is only in the blending of sites versus the single vineyard Cannubi Boschis. There's a definite consistency to Le Vigne that is due to the masterful blending choices made by Sandrone in choosing which vineyards did better in certain vintages.
As Galloni rightly points out, the ability for Sandrone to blend from various sites, various microclimates with his Le Vigne means that he was able to coax out a softer texture here as well as a freshness, a vibrancy, loads of ripe fruit and the classic spice and wild herb character that makes the best Barolos so alluring.
There's a school of wine "thought" that, I think quite rightly, calls attention to the deliciousness of a wine. The balance, the structure, the clarity, the sense of place, they're all important - but a bit intellectual for the masses. There's also a lot to be said about a wine's sensual ability to just make you blurt, "This is flat-out delicious." (Which I did with this wine.)
You could certainly cellar this - the pedigree is evident, and all those "intellectual" elements are in the right places to make the 03 Le Vigne perfectly ageworthy. But I almost see no reason when it's just so damn good right now. While Sandrone can shade a bit to the modern Barolo side, this walks enough of a tight rope to satisfy my traditional soul. That, and my wife won't stop talking about how good it was with her meatballs.
Truly, this is the wine to serve this holiday season with good friends and family, with or without meatballs - or any food, for that matter. Today's pricing makes it a perfectly reasonable indulgence for any celebration. I strongly urge those of you who have room for it to take a case, as this will undoubtedly impress, and you may be left trying to find more at a substantially higher price.
To place your order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
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The 2003 Barolo Le Vigne may have a slight edge over the Cannubi Boschis in this vintage, as the ability to blend fruit from various microclimates was a big advantage. It is a full-bodied, soft-textured Barolo with lively color and plenty of ripe red fruit, menthol and spices. This is an especially fresh, vibrant wine for the vintage, with tannins that are particularly refined.
Luciano Sandrone is one of the leading lights in Piedmont. No grower has managed to so brilliantly reconcile modern and traditional approaches in making wines that are soft, supple and approachable when young, but also capable of aging beautifully. I have been following Sandrone's 2003 Barolos since just after the harvest. Over the last few years they have developed remarkably, and today are among the most successful Barolos of the vintage, particularly for the softness of their tannins, something which few producers were able to achieve. Both the Cannubi Boschis and Le Vigne were perfectly fresh and intact when I re-tasted them after 48 hours had passed.