Reclassifying De-classified Wines

declassified-logoWEBDe-classified wines. Like outlaws they exist outside the mainstream. Wines which others have attempted to place on the margins of the inner sect. Untouchables. The lowest caste. The underclass. Warlocks to the Eloi. They are among a wine snob’s favorite topic. Wines banished from the world of civilized wine snobbery.

In Piemonte these wines come from regions neighboring Barolo and Barbaresco; communities where Nebbiolo is  also grown. Here is what Jancis Robinson has to say about these “other” Nebbiolo regions.

Nebbiolo is also planted on much higher land towards the sub-alpine vineyards of Valle d’Aosta to produce Carema and in the more recently created zones of Albugnano, Canavese, the hills around Novara and on the banks of the Sesia river. Boca, Bramaterra, Fara, Gattinara, Ghemme, Lessona and Sizzano are all wines that are predominantly dependent on Nebbiolo, or Spanna as it is sometimes called here, though usually in a rather less pure form than a great Barolo.”

These are the so-called “de-classified” zones that grow Nebbiolo close around the corner from the cathedral.piemonte_map_scan_2010WEB Ms. Robinson is authoritative, a goddam gold seal! Of course, these wines are hardly de-classified. In fact they are plenty classified. What they are is unknown. And that is what real wine lovers love. The oddball, the unknown, the hidden gems. These are neglected wines that are not given the regard of their better known cousins. Like Nikki Hilton [ed. uh, she’s a sister]. Or Uncle Gaga [ed. no such person], Bizarro [ed. Superman’s clone in a parallel universe that is actually in the same universe] and GI Jane [ed. movie character has nothing to do with GI Joe]. You get my point. There are “de-classified” wines from many regions that are not actually de-classified. Just not very well known.

Here are several recently tasted and very satisfying examples.

braida-2009WEB2009 Braida Montebruna Barbera d’Asti $19: This is one of the wines made in a non-Barolo region which qualifies it for our “de-classified” list. Even better, it ain’t Nebbiolo. The wine is made from young Barbera vines. This is a bruiser at 15% alcohol. Big flavors, all Italian. If I had less classy readers I would call it the Sly Stallone of wines: plays tough guy when it is really kind of simple. However, tBoW readers are clazzzy and cheap like my Moschino watch. So, at the U20 price it is a very good Italian de-classe buy. U20. 15%

roiletteWEB2011 Clos de Roilette $20: Finally a true de-classified wine! The story is the Beaujolais owner was black balled from using the Fleurie name on his label where he grows and makes his wine. I don’t know why. Maybe be didn’t want to pay membership dues. Maybe he watched too many Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns. In fact, that is the story. Too much exposure to the man with no name. So he put a picture of his favorite racehorse on the label and named the wine after the horse. [ed. find real story here] Revenge was his as this wine is widely regarded then and now one of the finest cru wines from Beaujolais. This is the entry level. There is a more exclusive version with the specification Tardive. Hardly matters. The wines age beautifully and are full of flavor made with a deft touch. If you see this hard-to-find wine in any vintage buy it. Eno Fine Wine gets it on occasion. TAFI! 13%

chignin-bergeron-2011WEB2011 Chignin Bergeron Les Damoiselles $18: 100% Rousanne NOT from the Rhone but from Savoie. A wonderfully unknown wine that is absolutely fab. The importer is Charles Neal who specializes in these kinds of wines, especially from Savoie. “Chignin-Bergeron is a named cru of the Vin de Savoie appellation in the Savoie region of eastern France. It is named after the village of Chignin, which is located immediately to the south-east of Chambery. Bergeron is the local name for the Roussanne grape variety, from which Chignin-Bergeron wines are exclusively made.” Flavors? Honeydew melon with a steely spine. Somewhat skewed but in a good direction. Lean and sumptuous. Perfectly complements fish cooked on the grill as well as raw oysters. The Field Mouse loves these wines and we can be certain he is familiar with this one. A local purchase at Woodland Hills Wine Co. A U20 super deal given the price/quality ratio. 12.5%


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    mouse says:

    i crave the Bergeron, monsieur.

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      Bacchus says:

      Mais oui. I picked this off the wine list at $40 at Hungry Cat SM Canyon and PCH. Somm made a fuss over my informed choice. Hell I was just getting mousey on it. Loved it then I spied it at local wine retailer! Going back for more.

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