I need to be cautious of what I write on here because even though my nonni (grandparents) do not own the internet or a computer, my dear mother prints off all my posts and reads them out aloud to her elderly audience. Somehow I have not been disowned after all the confessions of my drinking, daydreaming and occasional profanities. So here is hoping that loving feeling they hold deep inside is strong enough to withstand some teasing.
My nonna (grandma) is often found preparing a feast or some sweet delight in the kitchen. Time passed the other day as I perched myself on the kitchen stool and watched over her as she went about her cooking. Lately, nonna is notorious for accruing a list of instances in which old age is getting the better of her. Unfortunately it is her husband who most often experiences the brunt of these mistakes:
Exhibit A) Adding salt to the chocolate cake batter instead of sugar. Well, it is white. Solution: cake dumped.
Exhibit B) Plenty of garlic thrown into the coleslaw instead of shallots. Losing your sense of smell too, nonna?
Exhibit C) Purchasing chilli oil in the supermarket instead of sweet chilli sauce and using that in her Asian-style coleslaw. Enough said.
Reflecting back over all these mishaps got me thinking a little abstractly how a human ages is similar to the process of how a wine ages.
You see, a wine will begin its life with an immense amount of fruit intensity and purity, just like the first initial periods of our lives.
With time in the bottle, wine turns down a more serious path, building complexity, especially in the case where it has been worked a bit harder. As we progress through adulthood and commence our working lives, build relationships, fall in love, fall out of love, etc, we too are building experience and becoming more complex.
A wine will continue to unravel and reveal its subtleties up until a point where the elements slowly wane. Then one day it is deemed to have ‘fallen over‘. Living to a ‘ripe old age’ also presents its own problems, those notoriously being the deterioration of the body and in some instances, the mind.
I’ll admit that my nonna is nowhere near the latter stage, but watching her perform numerous mistakes only makes you treasure the moments where you can just sit back and watch your amazing grandparents in their element and appreciate them at their fullest. I suppose it is like appreciating our wines at their peak. This however, is the age-old dilemma. How do you know when a wine is at its peak? As James Halliday recently wrote, “There is no single Eureka moment: there is always a window of opportunity to enjoy good wine“. So this is what I’m doing, with both my nonni and wine, while they’re all still ‘good‘.
Starting with these recently landed Produttori del Barbaresco 2007 crus.
Goddamn (*slaps hand on thigh*) they looked good at yesterday’s trade tasting!
In order of favourite [#1-#9] | Montefico | Rabajà | Montestefano | Asili | Rio Sordo | Muncagota | Ovello | Pajé | Pora
TOP THREE HIGHLIGHTS
The south-facing Montefico was truly my style of Nebbiolo with its meaty body, gamey flavours and iron core. Power in its tannins and those iron tones continue right through to the seamless finish. I’ll take two, thank you very much.
Rabajà is part of the Golden Triangle [Asili-Martinenga-Rabajà] for a reason, proving itself as usual to be the most classic of the Barbaresco style crus, with velvety texture, wonderful fruit weight and an impressive balance overall. It also demonstrated to me the vintage conditions most clearly, with the rich and concentrated fruit from the 2007 vintage a consequence of the brief hail storm during the summer seeing a 25% reduction in yield. I’ll take two, thank you very very much.
Onto the other wholly south-facing vineyard of Montestefano. Well. How can one not be impressed by such sheer strength and beauty all in one? This is my favourite cru for ageing. A Barbaresco with balls. I’ll take two, thank you very very very much.