Le Piane 2019 Boca
Vinous published a great feature on the wines of the Alto Piemonte last year. If any region is worth a subscription to Vinous for, it is the Italian wines, especially the wines from the north in Piemonte. (article link). In it they feature the Le Piane Boca and a few other wines from this outstanding producer.
VINOUS: "It is easy to get discouraged these days, as so many reference point wines continue to soar out of reach of the average consumer. But, there are still regions where the savvy wine lover can find truly distinctive wines; wines of place that are both compelling and reasonably priced. Inquisitive readers will find much to explore in the wines of Alto Piemonte, Valtellina and other nearby appellations.
One of the most intriguing aspects of these regions is the practice of releasing wines with a few years of bottle age (like today's vintages). Part of that is tradition and part is a reflection of the wines not being easy to sell. Regardless, that is a huge positive for both consumers looking for bottles with a measure of complexity and sommeliers interested in adding wines that are ready to drink to their lists. Amazingly, prices have not caught up with the quality at most of the best estates."
-Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, March 31, 2022
Le Piane’s Boca usually consists of about 85% Nebbiolo with 15% Vespolina. Vespolina produces low yields, but gives the wine a distinct aromatic signature with bright notes of spice and dried rose hip. It also adds textural volume to the wines. The Nebbiolo grape, on the other hand, is responsible for the wine’s razor-sharp focus, energy and structure.
NYR - but see below for past reviews, this wine is a model of consistency and excellence!
At the top of their game, these wines compete with Barolo and Barbaresco in terms of elegance, territorial typicity and longevity. These are some of Piedmont’s most expressive, soulful wines.
The Boca appellation in the province of Novara makes wines that are 70% to 90% Nebbiolo, also known as Spanna in this part of Piedmont. Two other indigenous grapes, Vespolina and Uva Rara, can represent up to 30% of a Boca blend. The wines see 34 months of aging, 18 of which must be in oak. A Boca Riserva must age for 46 months (with 24 months in oak).
2016 95+ pts Vinous
The 2016 Boca is every bit as impressive as it was from barrel, but it needs time. The only question is how much. Effusive aromatics soar out of the glass, suggesting a feeling of openness that is not quite there on the palate, where the wine is decidedly austere. The 2016 is a classic Boca laced with expressive small red berry fruits, blood orange, mint and rose petal. It will be magnificent once the tannins relent a bit. Don't miss it!
95 pts Vinous
Le Piane's 2010 Boca is once again striking. Translucent yet deep and wonderfully expressive the Boca shows just how expressive Nebbiolo and Vespolina can be here. Sweet red cherry, spice, tobacco and mint gradually blossom in a super-finessed yet deep wine with class and pedigree to burn. Tasted next to the 2011, the 2010 is quite a bit more reticent and in need of time in bottle. The classically austere style will hold considerable appeal to traditionalists. Over the last few months, the 2010 has developed nicely, but it still needs time. What a gorgeous wine it is. (2016 - no doubt even better now in 2022!-TK)
I have had the 2013 and the 2010 over the years and these are gorgeous, classically styled Nebbiolo that give you all the best parts of Nebbiolo that one loves about Barolo & Barbaresco in a truly traditional and classic expression of site and the grape.Le PianeOne producer looms largest and is almost exclusively responsible for the under-the-radar cult following Boca enjoys today. That producer is Le Piane, run by a Swiss-born vintner named Christoph Künzli. The estate was founded by Antonio Cerri, an old-school artisan who created the blueprint for these exciting and eccentric wines, thanks to his sheer passion and determination.
96 pts Vinous
Le Piane's 2011 Boca is simply dazzling. Rich, translucent and remarkably vivid, the 2011 encapsulates all the reasons the wines from Alto Piemonte are so compelling. Sweet red cherry, rose petal, chalk, blood orange and mint are front and center, but it is the wine's superb textural polish that elevates it among some pretty lofty company among the great wines of Italy. The flavors are bold and pungent, but there is also striking depth to the fruit that ensures the savory notes aren't overpowering. This is simply a magical bottle. That's all there is to it.
95 pts Vinous
The 2012 Boca is potent, rich and deep. It is also painfully backwards. Readers will have to be patient in order to fully experience all the 2012 has to offer. Wild red cherry, sage, menthol and licorice lift from the glass with some coaxing, giving a hint of where the 2012 is headed. A few years of cellaring is advisable. There is so much to look forward to.
The magic of Le Piane is that the singular vision of one vintner happened to perfectly align with the vintner who would follow. Both men, Antonio Cerri and Christoph Künzli, operate on a seamless continuum of style, approach and execution. To understand Boca, you must start with Le Piane.
Christoph Künzli and his enologist friend Alexander Trolf acquired Le Piane from the 80-year-old Cerri in 1998. The Piedmont-born Chianti Classico winemaker Paolo De Marchi of Isole e Olena introduced his friend Christoph Künzli to the Boca appellation and to Le Piane. That friendship inspired Christoph Künzli to pursue and safeguard the Boca wine identity.