Visit at L’Azienda agricola Manera in Piemonte
The "Azienda Agricola Manera vini" is located in Alba, one of Piedmont's famous «wine capitals". To be really precise, the winery is located in San Rocco Seno d'Elvio, some 4 km south-east of central Alba. This is where we find the white truffle, and in these moments in November the peak season already last for several weeks. For the strolling tourists, the traditional truffle festival in Alba is a proof for that. Barbaresco, which is one of Italy's foci of wine, is only just 10 km north of Manera's vineyard. Barolo in the West, it is not very far neither.
Manera is a typical Piedmont family property with all that entails; an incredible hospitality, great respect for tradition and for what the previous generations have left behind, finally a genuine desire to make good quality wines. This is what mainly characterizes Manera. Wine is a part of the family history. Wine has been cultivated since ever and the cousins Carlo, Daniele and Gabriele are today the younger generation which has taken over after the brothers Franco and Luciano with his wife Maria, who in turn took over from their father.
The family produces red-, white- and rose wine in several different varieties, all from well-known Piedmontese "denominations". When we meet at the winery, it's in the very charming and pink building built in Art Deco style with the inscription "Locanda di Barbersco" on the wall. The winery where the wine-making and the storage takes place is located opposite, across the street. As usual, it's Carlo meeting us and leading us into the building where the tasting takes place.
We start with the white – and in comparison to the red wines of Piedmont – perhaps not so well known Langhe Arneis. Arneis is a typical Piedmont grape variety and Langhe is the name of the wine district located south of the River Tanaro. The wines north of Tanaro are also well known, but called Roero from the district with the same name. Tanaro flows through Alba so you can actually say that the north of the city lies the Roero and Langhe lies to the south. Arneis is an aromatic white wine, not too dry and not too sweet. Just fruity with hints of apple, pear and peach. It has a limited acidity that makes it ideal as an aperitif or with fish, preferably in a creamy sauce.
We then try the red wine Barbera d'Alba which is made in two different versions; one basic variant and another "Superiore" which has been stored in oak barrels. The Barbera grape can sometimes, especially in Asti give red wine with relatively high acidity. That is not the case at Manera, the basic version is fruity, soft and with some sweet tones that make this wine perfect together with Italian dishes with tomato as the main ingredient, such as an Osso bucco or even a Bolognese sauce. The acidity in the tomatoes balance well with the a bit sweet Barbera grape.
The Nebbiolo wine is made from the same grape variety as the Barbaresco. The 2011 has fairly prominent tannins whatsoever requires a red and tender steak accompaniment. The 2012 which is recently released is fresh with softer tannins. However, the Manera Nebbiolo is a wine that can be a bit "enclosed" when just opened, a thorough aeration of the wine will though make it soften and show its true identity. Very fine texture with a balance between fruit and acidity. Suitable for multiple years of storage.
The Langhe Rosso is an interesting red variety mixing Barbera-, Nebbiolo- and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It has been aged one year in oak barrels which gives a smooth velvet texture with a fresh flavor, mainly with hints of black berries. A slightly more full-bodied wine than the Barbera, but not quite as much tannins as the Nebbiolo.
The flagship wine is of course the Barbaresco with its typical terracotta color. The aromas are complex with notes of licorice, spices and vanilla. The palate is structured with fine tannins. Dry, spicy with hints of licorice, some smoke and some cocoa in the end. The whole thing is dominated by ripe fruit. A masterpiece to drink now, but might as well be retained for storage for more than 10 years to soften the tannins and complexify the aromas.
For those who are not familiar with the Manera wines, it can be said that in comparison with other Piedmontese wines it has good fullbodiness with limited acidity. The palate is elegant and the alcohol content is often relatively high, which gives powerful wines with great personality. Much of the range is available at Ivinio.com.