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Debates among connoisseurs regarding Barbaresco’s greatest vineyards often focus on Asili and Rabajà, the legendary crus made famous by the Produttori del Barbaresco’s iconic Riserva bottlings.
Yet, Marchesi di Gresy’s monopole of Martinenga is surely a contender. No other Barbaresco vineyard can match its gifts. Shown in orange in Alessandro Masnaghetti's vineyard map of Barbaresco above, it is an incredibly steep amphitheater sandwiched between and sheltered by Asili and Rabajà, producing wines that combine the best qualities of those legendary crus.
And the estate’s greatest Barbaresco is the Camp Gros bottling, produced only in top vintages from the sub cru right below Rabajà. Its southwest exposure, “sweet spot” mid-slope elevation and blue marl soil produces the most powerful expression of Martinenga, a Barbaresco of rich, ripe fruit, great structure and aging potential.
A case in point is the 1996 Camp Gros. From one of the truly classic vintages of the past quarter century, it is now coming into its own, its perfect structure bringing it to a peak of expressive complexity and elegant texture.
It also has become very hard to find, having largely disappeared into private collections. Yet, we recently secured a very rare mint parcel of this beautifully developed Barbaresco from a fine Italian cellar. This is an offer that no one who loves fine Nebbiolo should pass up.
The Martinenga cru became widely known about 50 years ago, when it first appeared on the labels of the Produttori del Barbaresco (1967) and Ceretto (1971). But its fruit had earlier been prized by the Langhe commerciante—the region’s big houses who dominated winemaking until the rise of the small grower beginning in the 1980s. They paid more for the fruit from Martinenga than they did from any other Barbaresco vineyard.
In 1973, Martinenga’s owner Alberto di Gresy began bottling his own production, and in 1978 he first isolated Camp Gros. Since then, di Gresy’s Barbaresco Martinenga Camp Gros has been one of the great wines of Barbaresco. It has the perfume and intensity of Asili, but with Rabajà’s richness and texture, the two characters married with unsurpassed harmony and refinement.
Today, of course, the word is out about the wonderfully elegant Barbarescos that emerge from this perfectly formed, south-facing conca. Even recent vintages are scarce. But old vintages, like the great 1996, are nearly impossible to find. Here’s your chance.
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