As my birthday falls in the month of April I decided to seek out three impressive wines with equally striking labels that would make the perfect gift…hint hint.
On Wednesday 20th March, the Bibemus gang and their fellow Italophiles gathered together to taste a mountain of Barolo from Monforte d’Alba. Fourteen of them, to be precise. Special international guests included Massimo Benevelli of Piero Benevelli wines and Robert Bava and his daughter Francesca from Cocchi Americano.
Last year I wrote about my experience as a Steward at the Australian Alternative Varietal Wine Show (AAVWS) with reference specifically to Bowie’s fourth album, Hunky Dory. This year I returned as an Associate Judge. Seeing as David Bowie is undisputedly the most alternative human being on the planet, I will use him as a means of detailing the highlights of the show again this year.
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.
Nebbiolo: King of the Langhe (ie: Barolo & Barbaresco). Is its noble status achievable in some Australian regions?14 Jun
NEBBIOLO IS REGARDED AS THE ‘KING OF THE LANGHE’ WITH THE BEST – BAROLO AND BARBARESCO – POSSESSING OUTSTANDING AROMATIC COMPLEXITY, TANNIC POWER AND EXCEPTIONAL AGEING POTENTIAL. WHAT GIVES THIS GRAPE VARIETY ITS UNDENIABLE DISTINCTIVENESS IN ITS HOMELAND AND CAN IT ACHIEVE SOMETHING SIMILAR IN AUSTRALIA? DISCUSS WITH REFERENCE TO THE VINE, SOIL, CLIMATE, VINIFICATION, MATURATION AND SENSORY CHARACTERISTICS.
Ancient Greeks referred to Italy as Oenotria – the land of wine 1. It is an apt description for the geographical ‘boot’ of Italy, which embraces a variety of climates and soils allowing for diverse opportunities in grape cultivation 2. The native grape of particular fame is Nebbiolo from the Barolo and Barbaresco zones, which herald from north-western Italy in the Langhe hills of the Piemonte region 3. Ample reasons exist for its elite status, but discussion will also be directed towards how Nebbiolo fares in Australia, where the illustrious qualities of Italian Nebbiolo wines convinced many Australian winemakers to plant the fickle grape, perhaps not always in areas best suited to the representation of its classic tar and roses character.
Ah yes, twas yet again another fantastic session at the Prince Wine Store in Bank Street, South Melbourne.
They held a tasting of eight wines from the meticulous producer Luciano Sandrone in Piemonte. His are wines I have yet to look at in a back-vintage line-up so I was super keen to do this Masterclass with a group of randoms to see what we would be looking at.
The last time I’d seen Sandrone’s wines was back in 2008 at ‘The Greatest Tasting of my Life‘ and more recently in January at the ‘2011 Lorenzo Galli Wine Scholarship-Day 1 Tasting‘. Both times I have looked at his Cannubi Boschis Barolo, which was interesting for me to realise and compare notes back. Either way, he is seemingly an excellent producer and the ability to understand the story behind his production, gradual collection of vineyards and philosophy behind his wines was truly a beautiful opportunity to be able to share.
All in all we were a group of about fifteen…yet again, I was the only female. Why aren’t other women onto this? There’s not that many places you can hang out and drink with just men and not get teased for it!? Meh! Maybe I’ll just keep it my little secret…shhhh 😛
May be a young wine still, but it drank a beauty last night. Mature fruit, less savoury but still Italianate because of the style, and really, really approachable tannins. Drank with Matt Harrop and wife Tamara once the kids had gone to bed. The 2008 is now sold out and the 2009 is out in store. Ha ha I got to drink the last one!
Available from Enoteca Sileno, 920 Lygon Street, North Carlton
Vintage work at the La Spinetta winery has been quietening down a lot lately, which means I made the right decision to leave on Monday to continue my travels around Italy. The cellarmaster and my co-worker Stefano Mazzei grabbed me at work and asked me if I would like to go with him to a tasting that was on tonight at the fancy schmancy restaurant in Treiso ‘La Ciau del Tornavento‘ for the degustation of the 1998 Barolo and Barbaresco’s. They hold it every year for the producers in Piemonte to address the vintage ‘Ten years on’. Did I go? That’s a really really stupid question.
When we arrived together we saw our friends Geoff Chilcott and Alberto Gresy from Martinenga Marchesi di Gresy so we sat next to them and tried the 28 wines together, making notes and discussing them. Stefano is amazing and in one of the three-wine brackets in which we conducted the tasting, he said to me he thought the first wine was from the producer Sandrone and the third from Paolo Scavino…he was right! He told me, ‘Tu sei in gamba‘ (You’re on the ball) when I said that I thought there were two wines in the line-up that had flavours akin to Pinot Noir in them and he agreed too, thinking these were ones where a small percentage had been added back in the day. Sneaky boys.
After the tasting (to which I will post notes below), the dinner commenced at 10pm. The meal was delicious and as expected, totally Piemontese. We had fantastic, fresh carne crudo di vitello, insalata russa, pepperoncini, roast beef that was left a little raw (salivate) and for main it was sage and butter ravioli. Dessert was an orange rind and sultana moist cake.
We all drank: *** equals favourites
1998 Fratelli Cigliuti Serraboella Barbaresco, Neive – Brick red hue, softened strawberry nose mixed with bottle-aged character, fine grain tannins give good legnth in flavour, lacking body though ***
1998 Vietti Barolo Rocche, Castiglione Falletto – Brick red hue, stronger bottle age, slightly Cabernet-like nose, more body, firmer and grippier tannins, tighter acidity, dryer flavours, more forward/advanceed. Salami on the nose, a little reduced character.
1998 Damilano Barolo Liste, Barolo – Cork affected (not TCA, but advanced), dry in mouth, lacking flavour but hints of what it was like,
1998 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy Gaiun, Barbaresco – Richer, vibrant brick red hue, nose a little volatile, mouth-coating flavour, hot finish, fine length, mid-palate weight and persistent flavours on palate ***
1998 Nada cru Rombone Barbaresco, Treiso – Dirtier brick red/brown hude, riper joobier fruits on nose, firm, stripping tannins but softened, a little unbalanced flavour forward, tannins in dietro, hollow middle
1998 La Spinetta Starderi Barbaresco, Neive – Bright fresher fruits than previous, concentrated mid palate but good balance with acid brightness and tannin length and fruit flavour still showing through. Great body, elegant wine. ***
1998 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra, Monforte – Mellowed, closed nose, shorter palate weight, nutty flavours, advanced a little , drying.
1998 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito, Castiglione Falletto – Soft but evidence of sour fruits, Pinot-like, femininity suggests Barbaresco but everything is soft and elegant. Perhaps from La Morra or Barolo? Bow bow ***
1998 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy Camp Gros Martinenga, Barbaresco – Bright autumnal hue, fresh and aged nose, molto savoury, fine tannins, good acidity and flavour, typical. Think it’s Barbaresco, elegant and lengthy. Woo hoo! ***
1998 Piero Busso Barbaresco Vigna Borgese, Neive – Brown, aged hue, cooked, dry, horrible, like fortified with nutty characters.
1998 Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo Vigna Cappella, S. Stefano – Nose volatile and hints of parmesano (rustic much?), sporco (dirty), flavour in dietro della bocca, hollow
1998 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato, Serralunga d’Alba – Bright red ruby hue, nose a little cheesy but also alike to Cabernet (Bordeaux). Palate completely different, soft strawberry red fruits and a salty finish. ***
1998 Albino Rocca Barbaresco Riserva Vigneto Brich Ronchi, Barbaresco – Dusty red hue, oaky nose, soft fruits on nose too, lots of bottle age, length is good, fine and elegant. Think it’s Barbaresco.
1998 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja – Heavier style, more body, thicker and grainier tannins, flavour a little subdued, think it’s Barolo.
1998 Armando Parusso Barolo Bussia Vigna Rocche, Castiglione Falletto – Duty red hue, soft elegant red fruit nose, palate akin to the nose, savoury and salty flavours, fine length, Barbaresco? ***
1998 Sottimano Barbaresco Pajore, Barbaresco – Brick red, piu’ corpo, un po’ chiuso e un po’ short on the finish, olive, kalamata nose
1998 Moccagatta Barbaresco Vigneto Cole – Oaky nose, lacking fruit weight to account for the fine tannins.
1998 Azelia Barolo San Rocco, Castiglione Falletto – A little cheesy, lacking freshness (svinat0), salty flavour, fine grain tannins.
1998 Moccagatta Barbaresco Bric Balin – Stinky socks, old nose, but palate flavour thin carried by tannins, wood on back palate
1998 E. Pira e Figli Cannubi, Barolo – Closed nose, softer coating fruit on palate, richer flavour, great length. ***
1998 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi – Rounded nose, fruits open but detect high alcohol, a little soft and Pinot-like flavours, very suspicious
1998 Albino Rocca Vigneto Loreto, Barbaresco – Bottled aged and slightly cheesy nose, tart start, fruit weight lacking a little for the high acidity and little body.
1998 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc, Castiglione Falleto – Rich, ripe and fresh nose, jooby, palate the same; juicy and like a Pinot, but with long length and great structure. ***
1998 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate, La Morra – Nose seems old, hot, Cabernet-like, short on palate, dry, no flavour, black licorice notes, currants.
1998 Giorgio E Luigi Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu, Barbaresco – evidence of lively soft fruit flavours, well-rounded but on nose it’s dirty.
1998 Conterno Fantino Barolo Vigna del Gris, Monforte – Well-balanced wine, everything in it’s place; tannin structure, fresher fruit flavours, length etc. Che bello. ***
1998 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Rocche – Cabernet-like, currants, darker fruits, good length, fine but very firm tannins.