press recognition: http://www.punset.com/#homepage-contact
Single-handedly Marina Marcarino runs her family’s old 17ha estate that lies on a small hill – a ‘Punset’ (in piemontese) – overlooking the ancient Barbaresco village of Neive.
In 1964 her father turned the ‘hobby’ farm into a commercial enterprise, & in the late 1970s, Marina rebelled against her family & instead of becoming an engineer, moved to the property & turned into a ‘contadina’ (peasant farmer), following in her grandmother’s footsteps. Marina then eschewed Alba wine school & went solo, electing to be organic from the off. Her parents gave her one vintage to show she had the mettle & could balance the books. Fortunately that vintage was 1982, & she made a 10Lira profit!
She was certified (organic!) in 1987, one of the first in the region, dabbles in the occult (biodynamics since 1990) & follows a (environmental) saint called Masanobu Fukuoka (since 2018), whose philosophy is based on the idea of agriculture without interference. This does not however mean it involves less work..! Marina adopted these philosophies based on a deep respect for nature, and the belief that her vines would perform best in a completely natural environment. She felt inspired by the land and wanted to set an example to the next generations, that wines of exceptional quality can be made from working the land in this way. The decision was also, in a sense, a lifestyle choice. Dedicating much of her life to her vineyards, she draws energy and vitality from them, and the balance that they give her is also reflected in the wines. Somehow she also finds time to be President of the Albeisa association, whilst also being on the board of the Barbaresco & Barolo Consorzio, throwing a bit of conventionality into the mix!
Andrew Jefford recently described her wines as “elemental”, & any comparison between her wines & those of Roagna is not welcome! Her wines are soulful, with great purity of fruit and expression, the calcium and quartz rich terroir giving the wines a certain finesse in texture. The Barbaresco Basarin and San Cristoforo ‘Campo Quadro’ are the gems of the range, and have immense ageing potential. Indeed, she believes they benefit from several years in bottle before release, thus why the current Barbaresco Basarin vintage is 2013. She invests in a new 25HL botte every five years.
> Certified organic.
“Neh?!” Langhe Rosso, Neive
Langhe Arneis, Neive
Dolcetto d’Alba, Neive
Barbera d’Alba, Neive
Langhe Nebbiolo, Neive
Barbaresco Riserva Basarin, Neive
Barbaresco Riserva San Cristoforo ‘Campo Quadro’, Neive
2018 Langhe Arneis, Neive – tasted by DBG on January 20th 2020: 13%, a blend of Roero fruit from a tiny 0.62ha plot in the northern comune of Montà, plus Langhe fruit adjacent to the Neive cantina. The resultant blend reveals the white peach character of Montà, while the freshness & crunch is down to the cooler Langhe soils, plus the vintage of course. Finely poised, pithy, pretty, it’s a winner!
2017 Dolcetto d’Alba, Neive – tasted by DBG January 20th 2020: 14%, bottled April’19, despite the pressures of the vintage, it’s characteristically very textural, soft & velvety, coming from Neive (Punset), charming, understated, a dreamy roll of briary/hedgerow fruit, fragrant with graphite, black pepperiness too.
2018 Barbera d’Alba, Neive – tasted by DBG January 20th 2020: consistently one of Marina’s most popular wines, the quality of which is surely enhanced by the fruit’s Basarin provenance, lying on finely textured marne sant’agata fossili soils that give her Barbera wines such breed. Vinified for three weeks on the skins in cement, bottled in estate 2019, it’s typically understated, juicy, very refined, refreshing but delightfully so. And in vintage 2018, the palate has an extraordinary taste of zafferano right at its core! Yum.
2017 Langhe Nebbiolo, Neive – tasted by DBG January 20th 2020: 14%, bottled Giugno’19, vinified in cement, followed by a brief 3 mths passaggio in botti grandi, yields were down 50% in vintage 2017 due to frost followed by April 13/14th hail. Yet the results are remarkable: soft, finely poised, sapid, delicate strawberry notes, cool minerality, such eleganza!
2014 Barbaresco Riserva Basarin, Neive – tasted by DBG January 20th 2020: bottled Nov’17, a dark haunting, cool, autumnal nose. To Marina it reminds her of a vintage of the 1980s. Suave, sapid, rose & sandalwood, essential, compact, aged for 30 mths in botte grande; the palate still tense with good acidity & structure, coiled, with promise & reserve, unyielding & composed.
2013 Barbaresco Riserva Basarin, Neive – exciting first taste Nov’18, from bottle, the product of 40yo vines planted in front of the cantina: beautiful, pale, tenuous, red; the nose pretty & precise, with engaging spicy mentholated, spearmint, Chinato, esile/slender, little redcurrant fruit on the nose; the palate is cool, restrained ethereal, with detailed, racy, refreshingly candid dried rose, driven, alive, spremuta & sfumatura – ‘dentelle’ as the French would say! Stunning….retasted January’19, having been bottled in Dec’16, after 32 mths of botte grande: briught, tight, sapid, with a lovely weave of dried rose & tiny red berries…retasted by DBG January 20th 2020: fascinating to retaste the 2013 alongside (the 2014), more evolved, less uptight/tense, more relaxed (from more time in bottle), the vintage’s mild weather, slightly lower acid, makes for a very pretty, tranquil, red berried/minty Barbaresco that charms immensely!
2012 Barbaresco Riserva Basarin, Neive – tasted 18 June ’18, a deeper garnet, almost brambly, bright, gleaming, generous & already approachable, the 2012 vintage is a classic yet with fleshy, seductive side to it (thanks to the warm & wet spring, & hot August). Focused soft sandalwood, delicate, peach, strawberry & spice, 28 mths botte grande, very fine, fruity, broader, earthier, more balsamic & fuller than the tauter, white stone San Cristoforo…
2012 Barbaresco Riserva San Cristoforo ‘Campo Quadro’, Neive – tasted by DBG January 20th 2020: notable change as 60% of the wine was aged in botte grande, the rest in tonneaux. This gives, as ever, greater clarity & definition, preserving the wines natural energy rather than letting it dissipate via oxygenation (oxidation!). The vintage is also clearly, & better articulated, with it’s richer, fleshier loganberry, reglisse/licorizia, pepper, darker fruited notes. Much tighter, neater, generous but focused too. The higher tones well-integrated. Very good – a great step forward!
2011 Barbaresco Riserva San Cristoforo ‘Campo Quadro’, Neive – tasted 18 June ’18, from the (380masl?) high part of the steep, calc rich San Cristoforo vineyard, just below Marina’s wood (that imbues the vineyard with cool air currents, especially at night), only released to the market in May ’18, the warm 2011 vintage is indeed refreshed by San Cristoforo’s minerally spine. Yes, there are sultry strawberry flavours, but at its core is a racy heart. Much less open & accessible than the 2012 Basarin, San Cristoforo is a (fencing) foil to Basarin’s sabre. It quivers, lifts, paces, excites with cool little red fruit, spice & limestone saltiness. Very slender, feminine, scented (vs Basarin’s brawn?!) Needs time (15 yrs?)
2007 Barbaresco Riserva Basarin, Neive – tasted 18 June ’18, at first, the nose has predominantly savoury notes of cinnamon and nutmeg spice, a hint of crushed rose, but after some moments it opens up to reveal gorgeous aromas of raspberry essence, cherries sotto spirito, and herbal yet sweet liquorice spice. Complex and still evolving, this wine has great elegance and intrigue. The warmth of the vintage perhaps adding an extra layer of body and concentration.
2000 Barbaresco San Cristoforo ‘Campo Quadro’, Neive – tasted 18 June ’18, beautifully complex, with layers of gentle spice, rose water, tamarind, and tea leaf. In the background that herbal hint of liquorice again, amongst flavours of dried fig and tar. Again a warm vintage, but with remarkable freshness, the acidity of the elegant Nebbiolo grape injecting its usual lift and energy. The tannins are silky, and on the palate there is an expansive quality to the wine, its crushed velvet core urging you to have another glass…! Compelling, and utterly delicious.