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The growing season 2023 - Towards the harvest

The agrarian calendar, the point of reference for the farmer, ends and begins on 11 Novembre, Saint Martin’s Day – a day that concludes the old agrarian year and inaugurates the new. That day, in our vineyards, all the leaves had already fallen from the plants.


The winter 2022-2023 was very cold at times, yet constantly dry and sunny. Relevant precipitation, mostly in the form of snow, was limited to two occasions: the first one on December 15 and the second one between February 26 and March 2, 2023. Indeed, rain and snowfall were so scarce that at the beginning of spring, the amount of precipitation registered since the end of the harvest was less than half compared to that of the previous years.


With the arrival of May, what could have been considered risks, that is, the low water reserves and the early budding, were no longer considered such thanks to abundant rainfall in the second half of May and the first of June. The rains were calm, fine and evenly distributed, without any heavy downpours or extreme weather events. This, combined with the decrease in temperature, helped the grapevine resume its normal development.


From mid-June onwards and for the rest of the summer, the weather alternated between periods of great heat and cool rain showers. The high temperatures in August, which surpassed average values, became one of the distinguishing characteristics of the season.

Just in time, the much hoped-for rain came to alleviate the summer drought. It requickened the plants, permitting them to reach an optimal balance. The grape clusters are now continuing their ripening process under ideal climatic conditions.


Followed closely by the viticulturist throughout its various phases, the grapevine has once more affirmed its defining attributes: resistance and resilience.

Likewise, the decisions made by the Sandrone family in the past, the fruits of experience and reasoning, have proved themselves right and capable of responding to the current issues linked to climate change.

Now all there is left to do is wait patiently for the plants to finish the journey they embarked on last winter.



Barolo Icon Luciano Sandrone Dies at 76

Luciano Sandrone, a vintner who was part of a movement to elevate quality in Barolo for more than four decades, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 76.

Sandrone built his wine business from a tiny 2.5-acre parcel in the appellation of Cannubi to 67 acres stretching from Barolo to Serralunga d’Alba and neighboring Roero. He manged to achieve global success while he oversaw a family business that now spans three generations.

"We lost not only a great winemaker but a very good man," said Chiara Boschis, owner of E. Pira winery in Barolo and, like Sandrone, one of the group of young winemakers  who shook up the region with new techniques and ideas in the 1980s and ’90s. "I always had great respect for Luciano, and admired him a lot for his focus on quality that gave him incredible achievements. He has been an important example and inspiration for me and many other winemakers."


Sandrone came from a family of carpenters in La Morra, one of the 11 communes in the Barolo denomination. An allergy to sawdust and an interest in agriculture led him to start working at the Borgogno winery at the age of 17. It was there he met his wife Mariuccia. After military service, Sandrone joined the Marchesi di Barolo winery, where he eventually became the cellar master.

In 1978, he acquired a small parcel in Cannubi Boschis; after the harvest, he and Mariuccia made 1,500 bottles in a garage under their home. During the Vinitaly international wine fair in 1981, he met importer Marco de Grazia, who was impressed with the wines and offered to buy the entire production for the U.S. market. Sandrone sold him half, selling the rest to a Swiss importer. Despite the success of his first vintage, Sandrone continued to work at Marchesi di Barolo until 1990.

Sandrone gained acclaim as one of the so-called "Barolo Boys," young Barolo producers who tried new ideas and learned from other wine regions. The group, corralled by de Grazia, included Elio Altare, Domenico Clerico, Giorgio Rivetti and Enrico Scavino of Paolo Scavino. Sandrone may have not been bound by tradition, but he didn’t opt for modern techniques like rotary fermenters and small barriques for aging.


"Luciano and I worked together from day one and for roughly 25 years," de Grazia told Wine Spectator. "He was an innovator, and yet curiously attached to, and reluctant to criticize, many expressions of tradition, particularly those tied to the vineyard management of fine elderly vignerons. Gifted with a fine palate and a deep vision, he crafted a balance in his wines very early on, and neither wavered nor ever lost his way. His wines always expressed power and tenderness."

Today, in addition to the original Cannubi Boschis, the winery produces a Barolo Le Vigne, a blend of parcels from the communes of Novello, Monforte d'Alba, Barolo, Serralunga d'Alba and Castiglione Falletto; a Nebbiolo d’Alba from the Valmaggiore vineyard in Roero; a Barbera and a Dolcetto. Sandrone’s last project, the result of 30 years of research and experimentation, is Barolo Vite Talin, made from a biotype of Nebbiolo he discovered in the Le Coste MGA in the 1980s. He planted cuttings over the years and was finally satisfied enough with the results to release the 2013 vintage.

"Luciano was a wise person, humble but sure of himself and with his own ideas," Scavino told Wine Spectator. "Together with him and other producers we often met to discuss and taste our wines and wines from other regions of the world together. There was an honest exchange of views that helped each of us broaden our horizons. His judgment mattered a lot."

As much as he loved his vines and making wine, Sandrone was at heart a family man. His brother Luca joined him in 1992 to manage the vineyards, and daughter Barbara manages the commercial aspects of the business. With the 2013 vintage, Sandrone dedicated his beloved Cannubi Boschis bottling to his grandchildren, Alessia and Stefano, relabeling the Barolo "Aleste," a contraction of their names.

The business will continue under the leadership of Luca and Barbara. Alessia has joined Luca in the cellar and Stefano is studying business at university in Turin.


ALESTE Barolo - Our family´s flagship wine, rededicated

Heart and continuity.  ALESTE is the natural continuity of Luciano's first wine, the Barolo Cannubi Boschis. Giving all the experience, knowledge, patience and passion of his many harvests, Luciano pays tribute, with boldness and sensibility, to the next family generation: "ALESTE" is in fact the combination of the names of his grandchildren ALEssia and STEfano.


An iconic wine. From the very first bottling in 1985, Luciano always believed in the unique and distinctive potential of the Cannubi hill, and that he wanted to express this potential by way of a separate vinification. This bottling pays homage to the richness and elegance of the favored Cannubi site in the heart of the Barolo. The optimal soil and climate conditions, harvest after harvest, have brought forth a wine that has drawn international attention since its first release.



Passion, transparency, integrity, value. We, the Sandrone family and our winery staff, believe that the best and only representation of our work and effort is the quality in the bottle, not a pretty ad campaign or flashy marketing.

The Sandrone winery was founded in 1978, born from a desire to make the finest possible expression of the Nebbiolo grape from the unique terroirs of the Langhe. This passion has informed the decision making at every step of the process. Furthermore, the wines should represent the best quality achievable at every price point. In effect, the basic wines are made with the same commitment to quality as the luxury cuvees.

Between 1973 and 1977, several bottles exist that were “made” by Luciano’s father from purchased bulk wine. He put a family label on them to give as gifts to his customers and friends. A few remaining bottles of 1973 and 1975 Barolo decorate the winery. These are not recognized as Sandrone wines – Luciano did not make the wine!

In late 1977, Luciano was able to purchase a first small part of the Cannubi vineyard. The following year (1978) he began making minute quantities of his own wine in the garage of his parents’ home, testing and refining his ideas about how to make a wine of distinction and high quality that respected the traditions of the Barolo, while incorporating many of the new technological innovations that were being used to make Barolo less forbidding and hard. In 1982 he met his first international distributor at VinItaly who bought nearly all 1500 bottles of his first 1978 Barolo and who began exporting his wines first to the US and Switzerland, then eventually around the world. Dolcetto and Barbera were added in 1981 and 1982. The growth of Luciano’s Cannubi production was slow and measured as adjoining parcels became available.



All vines are planted relatively close as vineyards are replanted and renovated to encourage competition and a degree of plant stress. Guyot basso training is used on all varietals. A minimum of 2 green harvests are performed each vintage. Minimal quantities of Bordeaux mixture and sulfur (as allowed per organic practices) are used to control mold and fungus. Canopy management is the same at every vineyard, and defoliation is on the west side of the plant for maximum afternoon sun if and when needed. Fertilization is every 4-6 years with composted manure from dairy cows only.


The Sandrone family farms a total of 27 hectares (some production is sold in bulk from less-favored sites), of which approximately ¾ are owned by the estate. Once a site is decided upon, it is analyzed for the best possible planting situation in terms of varietal, clonal selection, orientation of the vines and rows and any needed improvements in drainage or access. Some vineyards when purchased or rented are ready with established plants, others have required extensive renovation and modification. The family strives to find and secure the best possible sites for all of its bottlings.




Our goal is to make the best possible wine for the vintage and vineyard, at every price point. Sandrone wines are generally all made in the same way, no matter if it is an inexpensive Dolcetto or the flagship Cannubi Boschis Barolo. The winemaking at Sandrone is a combination of traditional methods and modern techniques. In the vineyards, the grapes are all treated and cared for the same way, and yields are kept roughly consistent. Broadly speaking, the different wines undergo the same processes and winemaking techniques in the cantina. Any variability, for example, is in the type and length of oak treatment, maceration time and age before releasing to market.

Luciano wants his winemaking techniques used to be as consistent as possible from year to year so as to make the hand of the winemaker less apparent. He believes that this leads to a more honest representation of the wine’s qualities from year to year: the wine will better reflect individual terroirs and vintages when the techniques used in the vineyards and cellars are broadly uniform.


Inside information

The story of Luciano Sandrone can be told in a few words.

Years of hard work as a cellar man, then all of sudden preceded the opportunity to buy a vineyard on Cannubi hill, in the heart of the Barolo wine zone. The first harvest in '78, the first satisfactions. Then more vineyards, more harvests and new acknowledgements. Right from day one, Luciano and his brother Luca have strived to achieve excellence.


Today this achievement is acknowledged the world over and is confirmed with every vintage. Balance is the keyword: in the cellar, between innovation and tradition; in the wines, between elegance and body; in the estate, between international distribution and a “human” dimension. Excellence is created in the vineyard. It is in the vineyard that quality has birth. Every wine is the product of the expression of single characteristics of each parcel, with its soil, its microclimate, its yeasts and its character. This process is possible only when there is knowledge and respect for the individuality of each vineyard, constant care and dedicated attention, at all times. Currently the estate farms a total of 27 hectares, 75% of which are owned, and produces between 90-100,000 bottles (about 8,000 twelve-bottle cases) per year. None of the wines are made from purchased grapes, and the rented vineyards are managed and farmed in exactly the same way as our estate vineyards. The current lineup of 5 bottlings was finalized after the 2001 vintage.


Barolo Cannubi Boschis is the flagship wine and is the one that earned Luciano his early success, being one of the first Italian wines to earn 100 points from the noted critic Robert Parker. This single-vineyard wine is typically dense and concentrated, but shows incredible harmony and balance. The medium-weight structure shows delightful and seductive notes of berries and cherries, with floral and mineral aspects. In great vintages, properly cellared examples will drink well for 20+ years. The finish is sweet and broad, with moderate, ripe tannins and long length.


Barolo Le Vigne is often a dark and impenetrable wine in its youth, where the tannins and structure from the higher-altitude vineyard sites make the wine less approachable. With proper cellaring, this wine reveals more classic Barolo aspects of black cherries, tar, violets and roses. This wine can outlive the Cannubi Boschis bottling in great years: Le Vigne shows more tannins than its brother and possesses amazing freshness and length.


Pe Mol was made for only three vintages: 1999, 2000 and 2001. It was a site-specific bottling; Pe Mol is a vineyard on the ridgetop between Monforte d’Alba and the hamlet of Perno. The site was originally planted to Barbera and Nebbiolo and the 3 vintages that were bottled are a blend of the vine mix in the vineyard. The Pe Mol bottling shows excellent fruit and structure, exhibiting a mix of black plums and cherries, with berry notes, excellent acid and structure and a long, ripe finish. However, Luciano and Luca decided the site was too windy for the Nebbiolo plants, which never grew particularly well here (Nebbiolo does far better away from the tops of the hills), and replanted the Nebbiolo with Dolcetto (which thrives here) after the 2001 harvest. Luciano believes in planting the most appropriate vine at each particular location, even though Nebbiolo earns far more revenue once bottled. Furthermore, replanting with Dolcetto further improved the quality of the already-excellent Dolcetto.


7 different wines with 75 vintages


  • Luciano Sandrone

    In 1981, I brought my first vintage, the 1978, to Vinitaly. I’d produced only 1500 bottles, but there was an American broker there who wanted them all…


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Luca Gardini / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Italy)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  23 wines 

The 100-tasting 1990's / Day One with vintages 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999.

1m 4d ago

 Christer Byklum/ BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  33 wines 

The 100-tasting 1990's  Part I /  1996 Harlan Estate / Ruby. Blackberries, vanilla, fruit driven, rich and layered nose. Liquorice and intense nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, anise, cassis, spices, blackberries and layered, rich, dense, intense, long.

5m 22d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  52 wines 

The 1990s 100 tasting delivered the expectations. So many great wines, but only one 100 point wine for me – Harlan Estate 1994. Mouton-Rothschild 99p and Pétrus 1990s 98+p closely behind. 

10m 15d ago

 Tuula Hällström, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  6 wines 

Cristal 2013 / Vibrant and mouthwatering, this offers a range of patisserie pear and apple fruit, candied lemon zest, pastry dough and marzipan notes set on a finely detailed texture, which imparts a great deal of finesse. The lasting finish echoes a smoky mineral note. 97p

2y 4m ago

 Luca Gardini / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Italy)  tasted  2 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Barolo DOCG Rocche di Castiglione 2017 / From one of the most important cru in Castiglione Falletto, a superb interpretation made by Vietti. From vines aged nearly 50 years, one month of maceration on the skins, followed by thirty months in large casks. Fragrances of small black fruits, blackberry and blueberry, mentholated touches, black pepper. The mouth is taut, dense with tasty tannins. Mentholated trace in the aftertaste. 100 points

2y 5m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  185 wines 

BWW2021 competition finals were filled with superb lineup of the world's greatest wines and superb finds from various price categories. The finals that were run in various blind tasting sessions, revealed many surprises. Most commonly, the fact that all the wines were so enjoyable already at this young stage, although many of them will deliver so much more after ageing of 10-15 years. Congratulations for all the winners!

2y 10m ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW/ BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  47 wines 

Domaine Etienne Sauzet Montrachet Grand Cru 2017
Incredible intensity and depth in this Montrachet in 2017. Focused, complex with layers of toasted nuts, white flowers and lots of minerals. Wonderful example of this grand cru vineyard. The wine stands out as clearly the most complex and intense from Sauzet. From 50-60 year old vines; only 4 barrels made.

99 points

3y 25d ago

 Christer Byklum/ BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  3 wines  from  Luciano Sandrone . In a tasting of  35 wines 

2006 Inniskillin Vidal Oak Aged Icewine / Amber. Rich, intense, caramelized apricots, overripe plums, more overpowering than complex. Fresh acidity, rich, sweet, intense, caramelized, candied apples, overripe plums, ripe and long. 94p

3y 3m ago

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BWW 2024

BWW 2024 - Who is the Best Wine Critic of the World?




Wine Professionals and wine lovers from all around the world choose, who is most reliable and influential wine critic in the world.

BWW - Best Wine of the World -Competition is the largest wine competition in the world, whether measured by the number of wines, the number of consumers involved or the judges taking part.