Venue: Treiso, Piedmont
Producers of particular note:
Cá del Baio – 40 year old vineyards and a lovely young spokesperson/daughter.
2006 Barbaresco Asili Cá del Baio – The wine has a silky entry that expands to an attractive knubbly sensation. The palate echoes the nose: fresh, high-toned. The fruit is a subtle amalgam of ripe plums and bitter cherries. There is an upright elegance about this wine.
2006 Barbaresco Valgrande Cá del Baio – Fresh, firm, uplifting nose. Again an excellent compatibility between nose and palate. Rich within its narrow band of flavors.
Varaldo – I have tasted wines from this estate often in the last 10 years and always found them satisfying. They are wines that give pleasure.
2006 Barbaresco Sorì Loreto Varaldo – Bruised plum flavor. On the nose a soft, ripe plum element riding a wave of bright acidity. Very fruity (within this context): plums, ripe bitter-cherries. The finish is dry with a plum-skin astringency.
2006 Bricco Libero Varaldo – A deeper plum/ruby color, with an old rose rim. On the nose, Nebbiolo silk sensations, with fine wood tannins. On the palate, full, spicy, with a hint of plum-skin astringency on the long finish. “Sleek as a seal” I wrote in my notes.
“In 10 to 15 years,” says Rino Varaldo, owner of the estate. “It will be perfect.”
When asked about the name of Bricco Libero, Rino says: “We bought the land from a man whose last name was Libero. He was a very calm person. He had a strong character but he still managed to be nice. So we decided to name the wine after him.”
The older Barbaresco vintages were tasted at a dinner held at the La Ciau del Tornavento restaurant in Treiso.
I enjoy tasting mature wines because I find they give me more sensual pleasure than the obvious big, fat fruit and wood concoction that we too often find in young wines. Not to belabor this point -but wine tasting is a sensual experience and, for me at least, the pleasures are increased exponentially when I am confronted with the continuing surprises of an evolving wine, with its evocative, hard to pin down sensations, aromas and flavors.
My identifier for older wines made from Nebbiolo grapes is dried or decomposing autumn leaves (and I mean that in a very positive way.) There is something deliciously evocative about that aroma.
2004 Barbaresco DOCG Vigna Giaia from Az. Agr. Piazzo – Well-balanced. A firm vibrating bolt of fruit and an intriguing undertow of dried autumn leaves. It has the texture of raw silk. By this I mean there is an appealing knubbly quality to it. It is an elegant mouthful of dark brambly fruit.
After 20 minutes the wine is still firm and continues to evolve.
1995 Barbaresco DOCG Vanotu from Az. Agr. Pelissero – Again I find the identifier of autumn leaves. In this case surrounded by a rush of warm brambly fruit. The fruit surges forward on the long, evolving finish. A pleasure.
After 20 minutes the wine is even more appealing. It’s flavor is evocative but firm. This is a wine I would happily try whenever an occasion arises.
1988 Barbaresco DOCG Riserva Santo Stefano 1988 from Az. Agr. Castello di Neive – The ribbon of fruit has become more finely compressed…a gentle weave of autumn leaves, warm rusty brambly fruit unfolding on the palate like silk. A long and attractive finish that leaves, lingering sensations and essences.
After 20 minutes is it still full, firm and pleasing. We have entered the world of great wine. I am grateful for having had this experience.
“This girl of 22 years surprised me with its soft tannins and fruit. I am very happy with this wine,” says Italo Stupino, owner of Castello di Neive, at the end of the tasting.
1979 Barbaresco DOC Montefico from Produttori del Barbaresco – I find this wine very attractive but I must emphasize that I like mature wines. The flavor has compressed yet again, but within its narrow band of fruit it is firm and satisfying. The wine rides high on the middle palate. On the nose, it is high-toned, firm but supple. A long pleasing, vibrating finish. All of a piece. It is a pleasure to taste a wine that is so well-knit. We have reached the point where obvious fruit identifiers no longer apply. Just lean back and enjoy the sensations.
“At 30 years old, this wine goes way beyond the usual limit for Barbrescos, which usually have an 8 to 12 – maximum 20 – year life span,” says Luca Cravanzola, technical advisor.