Ned Goodwin MW on Michele Chiarlo
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 in News
Ned Goodwin is a multitalented wine communicator and an Australian Master of Wine. After achieving his MW letters in 2010, Ned attended the 2012 Len Evans Tutorial and achieved the honour of being named Dux of his class. His personal wine passion has led him to the wines of Piedmont and working with Langton’s.
It is the Michele Chiarlo address in Monferrato that attests to the character of the estate, as much to the prescience of those behind it. Monferrato is in Asti, on the peripheral of the great communes that make up the Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG’s. The sub-zone is known for forward-thinking producers, a modernist lustre to their kit of precise and powerful Barbera on home turf, none more so than the Barbera of Nizza, the most recent DOCG for the variety, established in 2014.
In addition to judiciously oaked Barbera from the estate vineyard of la Court, one cuvée hailing from old vine material, the estate of Michele Chiarlo focuses solely on the varieties of Piedmont, also crafting Cortese, Moscato and Nebbiolo. All wines are hewn of estate-owned fruit, certified sustainable since 2016. Michele Chiarlo eschews chemicals in the vineyard while celebrating biodiversity, the sustainable use of energy and a holistic, healthy ecosystem.
Fidelity to Piedmont’s vinous hegemony is celebrated through the health of the vineyards and the wines, as much as it is by Michele Chiarlo’s bonhomie, manifest in an effusive energy that celebrates the region’s culture, art and the Chiarlo stable at both the Cantina, the family’s Cerequio Resort and its Art Parc.
Ned Goodwin on a recent visit to Langtons, facilitating a Piedmont masterclass.
This spirit is kept alive today by son and winemaker, Stefano Chiarlo. Together with another winemaker Gianni Meleni, Chiarlo shapes an overarching style defined by ideas woven across four generations. In essence, Stefano’s wines are marked by a strong glance toward modernity, as much by the resounding pull of tradition.
Oak, deftly used to tone and lengthen Nebbiolo’s tannic stride, has been reduced. Of late, there is greater use of neutral larger format wood, rather than new. Yields have been lowered, too, to confer purity, intensity and concentration; gentler extraction for around 15 to 17 days, enough to massage colour, aromatic complexities and structural nourishment from the fruit, without imparting excessive astringency or bitterness.
The result is a set of eminently digestible wines that reflects the DNA of variety, region, commune and site while being firmly stamped with the Chiarlo postcode of poise and drinkability.
Nebbiolo is iterated with different approaches to craft a versatile, mid-weighted and highly satisfying Langhe Nebbiolo, Il Principe. The ripe and approachable 2015, currently in stock, serves as a great value conduit to the estate’s riveting interpretations of Barbaresco and more so, Barolo.
In Barbaresco, Chiarlo paints a chiaroscuro of Asili and its darker shades, contrasted with Faset and its lighter edge. Both are prized elevated calcareous sites. Yet it is with the Barolo crus, Cerequio and the most lauded of all, Cannubi, that the Chiarlo style comes into its own. The former, a rubric of darker fruit tones and a sturdier illustration of Nebbiolo tannins; the latter, a refined patina of floral to red fruit scents, scuttling across a skein of pixelated tannins, sandy and fine-grained.
These wines make sense of the oft-used comparison between fine Nebbiolo and the greatest of Burgundy while ageing beautifully in better years. They are a worthy and compelling addition to any collector’s cellar.