Just down the road from Malvirà in Canale itself is Monchiero Carbone which is the product of the two named families joining forces in the present husband and wife team. Again, the winery is hidden from view, here underground, below the courtyard of a traditional dwelling. Parts of the cellar are very old, going back a couple of hundred years, and you can still see the steep steps down which the large barrels used to be rolled. The treatment these days is rather more gentle and controlled.
They produce a good Arneis called Recit 2009 (‘little king’ in dialect), which is complex and long, with a slightly vegetal edge and an Arneis cru, Cecu d’la Biunda 2009 (the family name for one of the grandfathers). This grows in very sandy soil – like a beach – and has a strongly mineral character. It is said to age for five to ten years which I am sure it would.
We also tasted three reds with one bonus wine to follow …. Mon Birone, the hill on which the vines grow, is the winery’s Barbera d’Alba 2007. It is made from low yields and three weeks of maceration ensure a deep colour and plenty of fruit, followed by a year and a half in barriques from Burgundy. This hot year has produced a slightly caramelly effect over the deep red fruit, plus a hint of treacle. As in the Langhe, the most sought after wines are from the Nebbiolo grape and there are again two levels, starting with the Roero DOCG Srü 2007. Again slightly pruney fruit, but properly fragrant, with elegant tannins. The sandy soils produce wines which are much more quickly approachable than those of the Langhe.
The top wine is Printi 2006, Roero riserva DOCG, which is aged for three years, two of which are in oak. The result of growing on soils a bit closer to those of the Langhe and traditional wine making is a wine of greater substance, more tannins and greater longevity. Deeper red fruit, some leather and balsamic notes, rich, still highly tannic and good acidity. And all this for €18.
The longevity of these wines was shown by a taste of a bottle of a 1990 which had been opened the day before for some Japanese journalists. This was then a Roero superiore but is the predecessor of today’s Srü. Though slightly oxidised, it had kept its freshness and had developed mushroomy notes, with lovely soft tannins. It had certainly kept its colour well as the photos shows (1990 on the left).