“Nebbiolo is my favorite grape…” is one of the first things Damilano export manager Barbara Castiglione said during her presentation this past Thursday night, and her passion for the grape was clear throughout the evening. We were thrilled to have her come and share her expertise along with Kirk Evans of Roanoke Valley Wine Company – the vertical of single-vineyard Barolos from the famed Cannubi vineyard, including two they brought from the winery’s library, didn’t hurt either!
Fittingly, we started with Damilano’s entry-level Nebbiolo, the Nebbiolo d’Alba Marghe 2009, which has been a staff and customer favorite for a couple of vintages now. Tasting it before the lineup of Barolos provided context and showed how the same grape can be made into an accessible, everyday wine with mouthwatering fruit, or a majestic, structured wine with aromas that run the gamut from tar to rose petals to tart cherries.
You don’t often get a chance to taste the same wine over multiple vintages, and with a wine meant for aging like Barolo, a window into what it will be like in 5, 6, or 8 years is extremely valuable – not to mention delicious!
Before a tasting like this, all of the wines have to be opened and tasted to make sure none are flawed. For a good sized group like we had last week, this can mean opening more than a case of wine! What was striking about these was that every bottle opened was intact – no corked bottles, no heat damage or oxidation. While this could just be dumb luck, it also likely speaks to the quality of this estate. The wines are fantastic, to be sure, but the bottles, corks and packaging are not only sleek and stylish, but of very high quality. It’s all in the details!
With the days becoming crisper, everyone was in the mood to dive into the kind of deeper, bigger wines that feel more right for cool weather. After a few sips of Arneis to refresh everyone’s palate and a taste of a fresh, young Nebbiolo, we were ready to get down to the main event.
The first Barolo of the evening, Lecinquevigne 2006, was a blend of five different Barolo vineyards, and a great example of the house style: powerful, but elegant, with tannins that are refined and mouthwatering rather than drying, even when young. Then we started with the oldest Cannubi in the lineup, the 2004.
Barbara explained that the Cannubi vineyard, located in the commune of Barolo, is known for its elegance; for having a bit of lift and freshness, while other vineyards produce darker, more brooding wines. In this more mature example, it was clear why so many comparisons are made between Barolo and Burgundy. Though there are important differences in varietal character, the transparency in these wines, their ability to communicate something about the site where they’re grown and its vintage characteristics, was clear.
As always, we had some delicious cheese and charcuterie items to accompany the Barolos. The Pecorino Stravecchio, with its grainy texture and savory flavor, was an especially great match with these structured wines.
The youngest Cannubi of the bunch, the 2007, showed its youth with more aggressive tannins than the rest of the wines, but its beautiful fruit and seductive mouthfeel more than made up for them.
All in all, a wonderful evening – ending in lots of empty glasses and smiling faces!
Thanks to Kirk Evans and Barbara Castiglione for an informative, fun evening. Peruse the links below to see what you missed!