Lalù: New Piemonte

The Inquisitive Outsiders: The Spirit of Burgundy Comes to Piemonte
Lalù: New Piemonte

Today, we’re offering our first small allocation from one of the most exciting new estates to emerge from Barolo in recent years. Lalù is a remarkable story, the like of which you’ll barely ever hear in Piemonte. In a region where it’s notoriously hard for outsiders to gain a toehold, this is the tale of two young women who quickly kicked off not only a label but a boundary-pushing estate—all in a mere handful of years.

Lara Rocchetti and Luisa Sala first met in 2010 at university in Pollenzo, just beyond the fringe of the Langhe. They spent a number of years working at Piemonte estates, as well as gaining experience overseas (Luisa in South Africa and Lara in Argentina). But it was their first visit to Burgundy that would deliver their Damascene moment. Working the 2017 vintage with Dominique Lafon “changed how we thought about wine”, they recently told us. They would return to work with Cécile Tremblay in Morey-Saint-Denis the following year, and the lessons would continue. “We realised we had to find a way to make elegant and fine Nebbiolo,” says Lara. “We didn’t want to focus on structure, tannin and power,” she says, referring to the traditional pillars of Piedmontese wine. “We wanted to focus on the Cru, on the vineyard, on finesse.”

Their first vintage together was only in 2019, yet they are already farming some five hectares of land, over two hectares of which are owned. The wines reflect their hard work in the vineyard and cellar and, as the comments below suggest, are all fine and elegant. Already super, they are only getting better (as recent cask tastings in Piemonte make clear).

It may be an emerging name, but Lalù comes with an impressive backstory and a convincing, articulate vision. Lara and Luisa bring fresh vision to a famous and storied region, and they are already producing wines that will delight anyone who loves Burgundy-style perfume, finesse and drinkability. Welcome to the new Piemonte!

the wines

Lalù Barbera d'Alba 2021
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Lalù Barbera d'Alba 2021

Organic. Lalù’s Barbera from fruit purchased from Monforte’s San Sebastiano—a site that Lara Rocchetti and Luisa Sala believe is exceptional for this variety.  Made with a third each of whole-berry (Leroy style), whole-bunch and destemmed fruit, the wine fermented and was raised entirely in concrete, where it aged for eight months. Lalù’s is a radiant, linear, focused Barbera that wafts from the glass with shades of fresh red fruit, woody herbs and floral lift. The palate is silky and vibrant with depth and texture, and while it delivers a serious dose of fruit, you’ll find plenty of finesse and mineral freshness, too. A lovely, new-wave Barbera.

Lalù Barbera d'Alba 2021
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Lalù Barolo Le Coste di Monforte 2019
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Lalù Barolo Le Coste di Monforte 2019

Organic. Lalù farms just 0.3 hectares in one of Monforte’s great Crus, Le Coste di Monforte. With an average altitude of 420 metres, this south-facing vineyard is the highest and southernmost vineyard in Monforte. The site perfectly fits Lalù’s preference for finesse and openness. Although its 30-year-old vines lie parallel to the Ginestra and Mosconi Crus, a Barolo from this vineyard is typically prettier and rounder than its neighbours—this being attributed to the unusually high content of sand layered throughout the region’s Sant’Agata marls.

Half of the grapes this year were destemmed by hand, a process that removes the berries from its stems, yet keeps the berries fully intact on their pedicels. With this labour-intensive method, Lalù gets the benefits of whole bunches—the prettiness and perfume—without the stems’ impact on aromas, tannins and pH. At Lalù, this also results in a little intracellular fermentation, giving the vibrant, lifted character that fits nicely into Lalù’s philosophy of crafting a Barolo that can be fully savoured in its youth. To qualify for the DOCG, the wine was aged for three years in large Stockinger ovals.

This is Lalù’s first Barolo release and explains why there is already so much excitement surrounding this producer. Succulent, pure and beautifully crafted, there’s a lovely perfume of red fruits, orange blossom and primrose. Then there are waves of sweet, perfumed flesh and freshness that saturate the length and breadth of the palate. Bound by fine, polished tannins, it’s an approachable Barolo of velvety depth, undeniable elegance and a long finish. 

Lalù Barolo Le Coste di Monforte 2019
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Lalù Langhe Nebbiolo 2021
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Lalù Langhe Nebbiolo 2021

Organic. This vibrant, perfumed Nebbiolo equally blends two sites that were both planted by Lalù. The first site, Roncaglie in La Morra, is a plot of land that Lara Rocchetti and Luisa Sala bought in 2015 and planted in 2017. Looking towards Verduno, this parcel faces east at an altitude of 400 metres. It’s a cool, windy, slow-ripening site. The second source is Bussia Bovi, a sub-Cru within Monforte’s superstar Bussia MGA. Lalù’s parcel is located at 320 metres above sea level, in the south of Bussia, between Bricco San Pietro and the area historically known as Bussia Arnulfo. The soils here are rich in sand, gifting a perfumed wine with supple fruit and great delicacy—the yin to Roncaglie’s yang. The fruit from here fermented as whole bunches and was raised in concrete to retain as much fragrance as possible. Both vineyards could be classified as Barolo (when the vines are of age), which says a great deal about the quality on offer here.

This Langhe Nebbiolo delivers more than most. The 2021 is a juicy, pretty Nebbiolo brimming with vibrant red and dark cherry fruit, anise, florals and some wood spice. In the mouth, the typical austerity of young Langhe is traded for svelte, integrated tannins and supple texture, all supported by mouth-watering energy. 

Lalù Langhe Nebbiolo 2021
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