Browse Tag


Jane Fonda in space

Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco (Piedmont) – Very tannic and brutish, with flailing acidity and a biting lash of tart red fruit. Powerful and concentrated in a way that’s perhaps not expected from this basic blend, with sour cherry mostarda taking control of the finish. Very, very young. (3/10)

The Marchenasco of the shreves

Ratti 2001 Barolo Marcenasco (Piedmont) – Light and dirty, with a lift to it despite the dark-fruited, brooding core. Crushed flowers everywhere. This is still developing, and while there are prematurely mature elements present, the wine itself is still reasonably firm and grippy, and will need another five-plus years (at the very least) to yield its full range of aromatic complexity. (3/10)

Chiavennasca lines

[nebbiolo]Nera “La Novella” 2008 Chiavennasca Bianco Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio (Lombardy) – Brisk and almost sandpapery, showing pear concentrate lashed with skin and a weighty press of immediacy. Very aromatic, but those aromatics are direct. This remains a killer blind-tasting wine, but I can’t possibly see how anyone could, other than blind luck, guess nebbiolo as the grape. (2/10)

A little novel

[vineyard]Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – 80% nebbiolo, 20% chardonnay, and very white. Aromatically dominated – one might actually say overwhelmed without exaggerating – by ripe pear…not the spicy, mineralistic kind found in Alsatian pinot gris, but a clean, poised expression of the pure fruit. Bright with acidity, lit from within, and doing a bit of an exuberant jig in the glass, this wine is burst-out-laughing enjoyable. It shares with nebbiolo an aromatic primacy, but I think it would be hard to call this nebbiolo in a fully blind (as in blindfolded) taste test, and the chardonnay does round things out a bit. Wow, is this a blast to drink. (12/09)

Foggy hat

Cappellano 2005 Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont) – Dusty red fruit, soft yet strong, with a nearly flawless texture. Absolutely classic nebbiolo, masterfully presented. (7/09)

Eva Majoli

Sella 2007 Coste della Sesia Rosato “Majoli” (Piedmont) – Pink nebbiolo is my favorite (still) pink of all, I’ve learned. It’s a shame that there’s so little of it. This is a more aggressive interpretation than many, less so for its structure – the tarry bite of tannin is shed, and the acidity has loosened into full-blown juiciness – than its fruit, which is as much orange as it is red and pink, and sounds the occasional braying, brassy note. So it’s a rosé that demands attention, and keeps it by remaining balanced throughout (lacking the so-common rosé flaw of excess alcohol). But it’s not a “serious” wine, whatever one prefers that term to mean. (6/09)

Drum Maggiorina

[vineyard]Le Piane 2004 Colline Novaresi “La Maggiorina” (Piedmont) – Chilly. Even arctic. Cold minerality flows down from the permafrost, slipping over brittle black fruit (paper-thin) and finally breaking on jagged shards of acidity. Even more than before, this is akin to a red riesling, but riesling in its most austere form. Closed or fading? I guess we’ll find out. (5/09)

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)

Sweatin’ to the Rainoldis

Rainoldi 2002 Valtellina “Superiore” Sassella “Riserva” (Lombardy) – Buttered toast with a slight char. Red fruit that’s been sitting in the sun too long, with a nice bite of amaro and barely-restrained aggression, but why does it taste like nasty old oak diluted with brackish water? Barely drinkable. (2/09)