Sunday, March 22, 2009

Three for the Cellar

Interesting day yesterday from a wine perspective. I wandered into the local market's wine section and sitting on the counter for tasting were two bottles of Barbaresco, a northern Italian wine regioin adjacent to Barolo in the Langhe area. Both were from Produttori del Barbaresco, a cooperative winery owned by some of the folks who own some of the best vineyards in that area. They were single vineyard "riserva" wines from the 2004 vintage, a very good one for northern Italian wines.

As it turns out they were the second two of a set of four. The two others were opened the previous night and sampled. I still had two hours before they could open the tasting so I took the groceries home and then ventured back to the market.

I started with the Ovello. It was a perfect garnet color with medium depth making it correct for Nebiollo. The aroma was dried red cherries and an almost quintessential smell of roses and violets, all somewhat reserved. The cherries were there in the taste along with some clean, dry dirt. The taste was tight, tart, and tannic. It took some time and a little swirling for this wine to begin to open, but it remained austere and dry. The finish was wonderfully long and full. This was quite a nice wine and one with tremedous potential to develop in the bottle.

After some slices of crusty bread we moved on to the Montestafano vineyard. The color was a little darker than the Ovello and there was more fruit than flowers in the nose. There was less austerity on the taste and more fullness of red cherries. The acid was still great and the tannins were still there. With some more swirling it blossomed and the roses began to come out. This wine was just fruitier than the first one and seemed to have a bit more depth. The finish was equally long and wonderful. By a slight margin I preferred it to the Ovello because there just seemed to be a little more to it.

Since the folks in the wine department know I love Italian wines they went in back and pulled out the remains of a bottle of one of the two wines from the previous night, a Moccagatta. There was enough for two small glasses left. This wine had been open for 18 hours and the fruit and the violets were just singing. This was the fullest of the wines, though lighter in color than the Montestefano. The depth of the cherries was the best of the three and there was a damper earth in the taste as opposed to the Ovello. It was just great to stand there and smell what was coming out of the glass even though tasting it was better. It would have been nice to taste the other two with the same amount of breathing time.

There was one bottle of the Moccagatta left for sale and since I didn't want it to be lonely in the cellar I brought home one each of its litter mates to keep it company as they age for a couple of years. The three are pictured above.

It totally blows the wine budget for the month (and part of April as well) but these were exceptional wines.

For the record the fourth wine was from the Paje' vineyard and there was not a chance to taste it since the one remaining bottle was spoken for. Probably a good thing. They are expecting another small shipment so a Paje' may join them at a later date but I am very happy with the three in the cellar.

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