Last night (Feb 21) a cheerful – and sometimes raucous! – group of Nebbiolo lovers and would-be fans enjoyed a fascinating tasting of eight Piemonte wines, including one from Carema, one Barbaresco, and six very compelling Baroli. We talked about the history and character of the Nebbiolo grape, the region, and winemaking, but the wines themselves were certainly the stars of the evening.
We decanted about four hours before the class began, an approach that worked well for some of the wines and less well for others. Here are a few quick notes on the wines; prices and availability on each appear at the end of this post.
(Note: Prices below are the special prices we offered at the class. We will be happy to offer them to anyone who mentions this write-up.)
Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 2008 – The flagship wine and winery of the tiny Carema region (not that big a distinction, really, since there are only two wineries there!). As expected, very elegant, transparent, and pure Nebbiolo with the elevated acidity you’d expect from cool Carema. Would have been better with one hour of air instead of four (more fruit and mid-palate), but still captivating and perfumed. No votes for Wine of the Night (WOTN), but the most-ordered wine of the tasting. A wine to drink and love rather than show off with.
De Forville Barbaresco 2009 – This small production, handcrafted, very natural Barbaresco was our one 2009 of the evening. I thought it lovely, with ripe fruit, good concentration, and a nice perfume, but it was definitely marked by 2009’s greater power vs. the 2008s to come. I’d drink this starting in three years or so for the lovely fruit and spice.
Vajra Barolo Albe 2008 – Wow; what a HUGE value this is! In a tasting where the other Baroli cost twice (or more than twice) the price, this showed off the ripe fruit, silky structure, and long finish that’s made it such a huge hit with in-store tasters this week. Earned about 10% of votes for Wine of the Night – even though it was definitely one of the wines that would have been better with less aeration.
Brovia Barolo Rocche 2008 – Even though the aromatics were definitely impacted by the long decant, this was simply beautiful. Plenty of Barolo power and ripeness, but fantastically perfumed and long, long, long on the palate and finish. Most beautiful back-palate and finish of the evening and basically tied for first place (30% of votes) for WOTN.
Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2008 – Vajra’s single vineyard gem from the highest Nebbiolo vineyard in Barolo showed beautifully last night. A bit darker, richer, and with more fruit than the Brovia Rocche and with plenty of perfume, this delivered a fantastic marriage of elegance and depth. Really captivating and the group’s #3 Wine of the Night with 17% of the vote.
Sandrone Barolo La Vigne 2008 – Moving into more “modernist” winemaking here, the 2008 defintely showed the impact of some new wood but remained firmly anchored in Barolo. Ripe red fruit, spice, smoke, rose petal, and an unexpected minerality all mingled together into an absolutely captivating set of aromas and flavors. Utterly silky on opening, the long decant let this open up and show its masses of velvety tannins. A stunner, and essentially tied for WOTN.
Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2007 – Now, a much riper vintage from the vineyard often called the Chambertin of Piemonte, this offered up much riper, sweeter, fruit than the other wines along with fine depth and length and super-ripe and silky tannins. Just a touch of wood showing now (mainly on the finish), this is a very seductive, open, Cannubi that doesn’t take much work to enjoy. The 4th rated Wine of the Night (about 10% of votes), but the people who voted for it were very passionate!
Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero 2004 – The only Riserva of the night from the outstanding 2004 vintage was easily the least open and giving wine we tried and one that generated some controversy. I thought it majestic and towering and, while closed now, likely to be a complete and compelling dark-fruited Barolo in another 10 years. Others wondered if there was enough fruit to complete the integration of oak and sustain the wine while it opens. My Wine of the Night for the future potential, but only one other taster agreed with me!
All in all, a very successful exploration of Nebbiolo across different Piemonte regions, winemaking styles, and vintages. If we can pull it off, we’ll try this again next year focusing on the 2009s.
Most of the wines we tasted are available for purchase, although a few are sold out and most are fairly limited. Below are the prices we offered at the tasting and will be happy to honor for anyone who mentions this write-up. Just call, email, or stop by the store.
Note on prices: Sale prices are for single bottles. Six bottle prices are mix/match across these wines. Case prices are for orders of any dozen bottles or more, mix/match.
Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 2008 – Sale $42.98/Six $39.98/Case $37.98
De Forville Barbaresco 2009 – Sale $30.98/Six $29.98/Case $27.98
Vajra Barolo Albe 2008 – Sale $34.98/Six $31.98/Case $29.98
Brovia Barolo Rocche 2008 – SOLD OUT
Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2008 – Sale $79.98/Six $76.98/Case $74.98
Sandrone Barolo La Vigne 2008 – Sale $139.98/Six $129.98/Case $119.98
Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2007 – Sale $80.98/Six $76.98/Case $74.98
Note: Sold out of current inventory; waiting word on possibility of getting more from importer
Vietti Barlo Riserva Villero 2004 – Sale $249.98/Six $229.98/Case $199.98