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Cariola, wayward son

Ferrando 2008 Erbaluce di Caluso “Cariola” (Piedmont) – At uncorking, this is awful. It smells, and tastes, lavishly wooded (NB: it is not) and overly lactic. I loathe it so much that the cork goes back in the bottle after fifteen minutes of eye-squinching unpleasantness and stick it in the fridge, intending to give it another shot the next night. Which I don’t. Two nights later, the cork comes back out, and the wine is in full-throated song. All the worrisome tarting-up is gone, replaced by lush and lavish wild berries (gooseberry, perhaps, though not nearly that aggressive) belled with Yuletide herbs and greenery. Extremely dense, long, and in constant motion. And yet, that lactic-like note lingers on the finish. I wonder if something might not be wrong with this bottle – heat damage? – though the wine is so good that whatever might be wrong can’t do much except postpone the moment of enjoyment. Or maybe there really is something here that I don’t like. The most important lesson, however, is the always-needed warning against snap judgments. In a typical professional tasting, I would never have had the opportunity to revisit my initial dismissal, and that would have been a shame for me, and inexcusable for the wine. (8/11)

Enrico Caluso

Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso “Cuveè del Fondatore” (Piedmont) – Sparkling…and yes, that’s really how they print the accent on the label. Dark-fruited for a white sparkler, with the expected herbs. Bitter, fierce, and wild. Not easy to like…but nonetheless, I do, very much. I think. (5/10)

Torrozza less traveled

Ferrando 2007 Canavese Rosso “La Torrozza” (Piedmont) – Fulsome and juicy; an explosion of mixed berries (red and black) with clover, just a hint of tar, and a slushy swath of acidity. There’s a slightly acrid overlay that’s just a little off-putting, and detracts from the boisterous pleasure, but it’s still a most enjoyable wine. Watch that acridity, though, because I don’t think it’s going to improve as the wine lingers. (7/09)

Carema caramela

[label]Ferrando 2003 Carema (white label) (Piedmont) – Tasted blind, and though I momentarily nose my way into Barbaresco, I get no closer, nor do I do so with much confidence. And I certainly don’t get the year right. The reason? Conflict within the wine, and not a minor one. There’s tar, charred brown earth, some – but not too much – tannin, and a white powder texture. The structure’s all shoulders and knees, but the fruit seems worn out, as if the wine is headed to a premature demise. I can’t figure this out at all, even after the reveal. Drink? Hold? I have no idea. (4/09)