Piemonte Romance Officially An Obsession

Contact the Investigation Discovery folks at the Discovery Channel. We have an incubus invasion of all things Piemontese. The Holidays flirtation with Italian Nebbiolo wines may have taken a turn towards compulsion. All the signs are here. Just look at the facts. The desultory Holidays were brightened by a string of Piemonte wines: a 1989 Conterno Barolo that was t-r-a-n-s-c-e-n-d-e-n-t, a 1985 vino rustico from Boca one of those “other Piemonte communities” that is not Barolo but where they grow and produce outstanding Nebbiolo, the obscure white wine Erbaluce from Piedmont, the Krisses plans to travel to La Morra in February, Adri Barr Crocetti’s post on the unusual Piemonte aperitif Barolo Chinato, and, finally, the report below on two more exceptional Nebbiolo wines from this very exceptional region. That is A LOT of Piemonte culture. And honestly we love it. Our palates have been sharpened to appreciate the Bourbon-like aromas and flavors of great Nebbiolo in many of its best forms. Having never tasted Bourbon this might seem speculative at best. When I taste typical Barolo wines I think of sour mash which I associate with Bourbon [ed. and you watch Moonshiners another Discovery show]. Other than that words fail me when it comes to these incredible wines from this enchanting region of hilltops and two lane blacktops. What is not to like? The only thing missing are the truffles.

voerzio_langhe_05WEB2005 Roberto Voerzio Langhe Nebbiolo Vigeti S. Francesco Fontanazzo %35 (Woodland Hills Wine Co): Roberto Voerzio is a prominent modernist Barolo winemaker which means he uses barriques to age his Piemonte reds instead of the traditional Slavonian oak monster barrels. I read on this excellent blogsite as of 2007 he is using some of the old Slavonian barrels again so he ain’t quite that New School. He also limits new oak to 30% which means the soul of the region [ed. can’t you just say terroir?] is preserved. This particular wine is blended from two Barolo vineyards – San Francesco and Fontanazza. This wine is the essence of Piemonte Nebbiolo. Spiny, acidic at first, even sour to palates more accustomed to fruit forward juice. The flavors and aromas gradually emerge. Barolo never jumps out of the bottle and kisses you on the mouth. However it is quite seductive. Patience is frequently rewarded even with the most recalcitrant bottle. Never give up on a Piemonte Nebbiolo. Every wine may not transport you to a better world but very few will leave you in an existential conundrum. 14%

Ronchi_04WEB2004 Giancarlo Rocca Barbaresco Ronchi $35: Much tighter than the Voerzio. The 2004 and the 2005 vintages are the first in a string of great Piemonte vintages. This wine is all about the 80% dark chocolate; dark dark dark. It opened up after a couple days (!!!) which means it will improve many more years. This is pure premium Barbaresco. The sour mash fruit is there smoky, dried cherries, pungent. The tannins refuse to subside until I strain the wine through the aerator. Twice. This is a young wine that cannot yield to time. It is indestructible! I cannot think of another wine that brings out this awestruck response in me. This is a good one to have in the cellar. 14%

Those “other Peimonte communities” where Nebbiolo is grown and vinified include Ghemme, Gattinara, Boca, and Valtellina to name a few. Nebbiolo is known as Spanna in most of these non-Barolo/Barbaresco communities. In Valtellina it is known as Chiavennasca. The Nebbiolo is blended with other indigenous local varietals such as Bonarda and Vespolina. We rarely see wines from these regions. The most likely one you will find is Gattinara which sports a totally goofy flat black bottle that looks like it is melting or should contain motor oil. If I spotted one of these wines I would expect the price to be near $20. Let us know if you taste one.

I am cross-posting to the blogsite of Adri Barr Crocetti. She has posted on Chinato di Barolo for which she describes her own awe-struck response. The writing is terrific and her arguments are extremely persuasive. Click here and you will read her description of a completely fascinating wine made in a completely fascinating manner. Without even tasting it I want to based just on Adri’s words. Her blog on all consumables Italian is highly touted and covered widely by related sites and publications. I am so jealous! She also posts recipes of her favorite Italian delicacies for those who cook.

Ever wonder how wine is made? Especially great wine like those from Piemonte? Here it is in 94 seconds!!

4 Comments

  1. Wavatar
    AdriBarr says:

    Che meraviglai! What a fab post! First, thanks so much for the very expansive shout out. That’s very kind of you. And next, well this is just the best news ever – see, I am on a quest to learn more about Italian wines, and I figure there could be no better guide than you. I am loving this.

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      Bacchus says:

      Take another look. I went back and re-posted the two videos that somehow did not save last night! Let’s drink Barolo and eat food sprinkled with truffles.

  2. Wavatar
    Kris-B says:

    This is good. Now that you have discovered barolo chinato, you can help us explore its amari cousins and other herbal infusions.

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      Bacchus says:

      Well I have not really discovered it. I am like the Finding Bigfoot crew who believe in the hairy stinky critter but never actually see one or get close to one. I am hoping to wine and dine with Ms. Adri who is a fab cook and taste my first Chinato with her. I am guessing you know the wine…or is it a spirit?

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