I’m not talking about the get-your-friends-together, open-some-funky-wines, drink-and-discuss-while-you-nibble-on-charcuterie kind of DIY tasting, but rather the put-on-a-blazer, go-to-a-convention-center, taste, spit, and shmooz-your-way-around-the-room industry events. Many of my non-wine friends jealously yearn to attend, but my colleagues and I are all too familiar with the manic chaos that generally comes with the territory.
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.
Brand: Rugiada di Erbaluce
Winery: Cà Nova
Appellation: DOC, COLLINE NOVARESI BIANCO
Varietal: 100% ERBALUCE
Winemaker: Gianluca Scaglione
Alcohol %: 12,5%
Average Price: € 8
The Italian sparkling wine zone of Franciacorta is located in Lombardy. The wines there are made with the same grape varieties (mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and the same production method as those used in France’s Champagne region. Satèn is the word used to indicate a Crémant wine (this means a sparkling wine that has a lower pressure in the bottle and thus a creamier mousse).
Milanese businessman Guido Serio bought San Fabiano estate in 1983. The vineyards are located in the historic Chianti Classico commune of Castellina, while the manor house and the cellar, which are part of the 10-century-old medieval hamlet, stand right on the south-western border of Chianti Classico denomination. The estate is essentially an agricultural enterprise, with grain fields, vineyards, olive groves and woods dispersed on 165 hectares. The vineyards currently occupy 42 hectares, 28 of which are planted around San Fabiano hamlet and the rest are in the locality of Cellole near Castellina.
Since the purchase of the estate Guido Serio made a considerable investment both in vine growing and wine making. The property had an old vinification cellar – it was promptly expanded and new modern equipment installed in mid 1980s. A vast new aging cellar was built in 2003. In between these years all vineyards were gradually renewed. Small replanting is still carried out each year, so the majority of today’s vines are aged 5 to 15 years. Franco Campanelli is a full time in-house winemaker, while Carlo Ferrini, a famed Tuscan enologist, followed the estate since 1984 and continues to work as a consultant.
Winery: Nino Negri
Appellation: DOCG, VALTELLINA SUPERIORE
Varietal: 100% NEBBIOLO
Winemaker: Casimiro Maule
Oak: After the vinification, the 25% of the wine ages in Slavonian oak casks and the rest in French and American oak barriques.
The blending and the bottling take place 24 months after the harvest.
For centuries, the city of Verona in Northern Italy’s Veneto region was best known as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Today it has become synonymous with wine – specifically the Valpolicella (and Amarone della Valpolicella) made in the hilly area from which it takes its name, just outside of town.
Since 1967, Verona has also played host to VinItaly, the world’s largest wine fair, which begins tomorrow and has provided me with the perfect excuse to come enjoy spring in my favorite part of the world. It’s a bit intimidating, however – 5 days, more than close to 4,500 exhibitors, and God only knows how many tasters from more than 100 countries. I hope I’m tough enough to keep up.
Appellation: DOCG, MORELLINO DI SCANSANO RISERVA
Varietal: 100% SANGIOVESE
Winemaker: Paoletti, Bernini, Schuster
Oak: Triple grapes selection. Maceration on skins for 20/25 days. Pre-maceration at 12 °C. Fermentation in steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation in wooden barrels. The wine lays for 24 months in French oak barrels (from 5hl up to 25hl capacity). Once bottled the wine stays in the cellar for a minimum of 12 months.
Average Price: EUR 23
Winery: Renato Corino
Appellation: Barolo (La Morra)
Varietal: Nebbiolo (Spanna)
Average Price: $45.00
Brand: GIORGIO QUINTO
Winery: OLMO ANTICO
Appellation: PROVINCIA DI PAVIA ROSSO IGT
Varietal: 100% Merlot
Winemaker: Alberto and Paolo Baggini
Oak: maceration and fermentation in 50 hl steel vats. It rests in 35 hl bay oak barrels for two years, only 10% of it is transferred to barrique for 12 months. Then the assembling in big barrels takes place and it stays there for another 12 months
Average Price: EUR 20