2019 Luigi Baudana "Dragon" Langhe Bianco ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle
2019 Luigi Baudana "Dragon" Langhe Bianco ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

A Thrilling Langhe Bianco Made Unconventionally

350 Words (Or So) on One of Piedmont's Top White Wines

3 min read

Late last year, we ran an extensive profile on the field blends of Vienna Austria, which are known under the appellation of Wiener Gemischter Satz. By harvesting the co-planted grape varieties at once, and vinifying the perfectly ripe, as well as somewhat overripe and underripe grapes together, winemakers in Vienna can achieve dazzling results. The practice is by no means exclusive to them. I had tasted field blends before, in particular from Marcel Deiss in Alsace, but it wasn’t until I tasted those Gemischter Satz wines that I became a believer in what field blends can do.

Enter this wine from Piedmont: yet another example of beauty in co-fermentation. However, rather than being a field blend of one unique parcel, it is actually from two. The Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are harvested and fermented together from a small fold in the Ceretta Cru of Serralunga d’Alba (better known for its Barolo-producing Nebbiolo), while the Nascetta comes from a plot in the Ravera Cru of Novello (again, a Barolo-producing vineyard of even greater fame). Nascetta is a brilliant, idiosyncratic personality. It offers intense white wines with a sesame seed-like edge to counter all the stone fruit and flower tones it yields. On paper, mixing it in with Chardonnay’s body, Sauvignon Blanc’s snap and Riesling’s earthiness would seem like a great idea. Indeed, this wine has exquisite complexity. But the field blend process seems to heighten this depth further. Some sips race across the palate, others sink in from the ripest elements. The wine is simply thrilling from start to finish.

“Dragon” is made by the Vajra family, but bottled under the Luigi Baudana name. The latter was an insider’s favorite winery in the 1980s and 90s: the family’s fruit was mostly in Serralunga, the winemaking was highly traditional, the production was small, to say the least. But without a family succession in place, Mr. Baudana turned to another Langhe family that he could trust. Giuseppe Vajra seems to take this responsibility just as seriously as a father would in raising an adopted son. Yet another reason why this winery is still essential in my eyes.

2019 Luigi Baudana “Dragon” Langhe Bianco

2019 Luigi Baudana "Dragon" Langhe Bianco ©Kevin Day/Opening a BottleLanghe DOC (Piedmont) 
Grapes: Chardonnay (45%), Nascetta (30%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%), Riesling (5%)
Alcohol: 13%
Opinion: ★★★★★ (out of five)
Food friendliness: Impeccable
Value: As expected

   

A beginner might like … enjoying the ride. This wine is so complete and complex, that if you choose to pay attention to it, you might recognize its cast of characters: Chardonnay’s wealth on the palate, Sauvignon Blanc’s tropical fruit, Riesling’s sweetness on the nose. Or maybe you’ll wander to places that have nothing to do with this wine, like I did (Albariño’s minerality …  Alsatian Pinot Blanc’s springtime goodness). Then again, don’t feel obligated to pay attention to it: just sip: and enjoy. It’s unchallenging and directly delicious.

A wine obsessive might like … participating in the continuing legacy of a bygone Barolo estate. We enjoyed this wine at Denver’s Barolo Grill, where the staff learns the ropes once a year in Piedmont. Sommelier Erin Lindstone suggested the wine in part because she knows I’m an unabashed Barolo geek who was wanting a nice white wine to start off. But also because I wasn’t familiar with the Luigi Baudana story. Time to fix that, seemed to be her thought process. It’s the kind of wine that feels like a secret hiding in plain sight. Grazie, Erin.

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