Will I be denounced in Pseud’s Corner if I say that, just occasionally, it’s possible to taste a wine that, just for a moment, seems to resonate with your soul? Probably. But what the hell! On Tuesday morning, I had a moment. It was in Serralunga d’Alba in the tasting room at Massolino and the wine was a Barolo Riserva 2004 from the famous Vigna Rionda vineyard, which lies just over the hill from the winery.
It started when I stuck my nose in the glass and was transported home to my Oxfordshire garden. There is an ancient rose that climbs up the wall of my barn and when it first flowers in late May I go out before breakfast and breathe in its intense, intoxicating, deep sweet scent until it makes my head spin. The bouquet of the Vigna Rionda has the same mind-bending intensity and the same sweetness, along with deeper, darker notes. It’s simply magical. I was so stunned that tasting it seemed almost redundant, but when I did it repaid me with welcoming elegance, a rich voluptuousness and staggering length. We were the second visitors to Massolino that morning and I got the feeling from a smiling Franco Massolino that it was the second time that day he had witnessed this kind of epiphany, as he said his first visitor, a wine-maker from Alsace, had also declared the Vigna Rionda “something particular”. I’ll say!
The rest of the wines were special too. From a very accomplished Langhe Chardonnay, through the Langhe Nebbiolo (now on my list), the Barberas, the Barolo Classico and the single vineyard Barolos, concluding with a light, fresh and delicious Moscato d’Asti (most of the reds are available in the UK from Liberty) there was not a false note.
And next year, when the building works to renovate the upper parts of the winery are complete, there will be a new tasting room and outdoor terrace with a breath-taking view over the Piemontese hills. Combine that view with those wines and Private Eye’s going to need more space for Pseud’s Corner!