Browse Tag


Foggy dew

[label]Chinati Vergano Chinato Nebbiolo (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo from someone in Barbaresco, cinnamon, cardamom, rhubarb, quince, and more. Finely-honed and bitter, with weedy ash and leaves…but in a good way…and showing medium-bodied dark fruit throughout. (1/08)


[bottle]Roagna 2000 Barbaresco Pajé (Piedmont) – Roasted nuts, flowers (mostly dandelions), and red fruit. Soft, gentle, and delicately complex, with precise but insistent acidity on the finish. Captivating, and partially so because it’s clearly not all there yet. (1/08)

A foggy day in Vietnam

Cappellano 2003 Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont) – A touch of brett and a moderate amount of hard tannin eventually give way to fruity, seedy blackberry and a crisp finish of surprising lightness. Now that’s an outcome I didn’t expect from the initial impression. I think it’s good, but honestly I have no idea where it’s headed. (1/08)

Vajra infection

Vajra 2006 Langhe Rosso (Piedmont) – Simple and beautiful, which is not someone one can often say about nebbiolo (which usually requires complexity to achieve beauty), and one of the best bargain bottlings of this sometimes difficult grape. It’s floral and suggests, more than actually delivers, a passel of red berries, with a light chomp of tannin and a firm, spinal acidity. A party wine for wine geeks, though it does even better with food. (12/07)

Ascheri night

[harvest]Ascheri 2004 Nebbiolo d’Alba Bricco S. Giacomo (Piedmont) – Fine aromatics can’t quite be suppressed by a layer of slick woodiness and a lingering buttery note. Was this wine actually barriqued, or is there some sort of minor heat damage masquerading as internationalization? Whichever is the case, it’s pleasant enough, but it grows less interesting as the bottle progresses. (10/07)

The Gaja hypothesis

[angelo gaja]Gaja 2004 Langhe “Sito Moresco” (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo, merlot & cabernet sauvignon. Maybe. Whatever it’s made from, a more overtly sexualized wine can scarcely be imagined. The fruit (mostly berries and spice) is velvety, rich, luxurious and utterly seductive, and what structure remains is softened and lotioned and polished to virtual invisibility, though it’s important to note that it isn’t actually absent. As I said: sexy, though in an obvious, impossible-to miss way. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this wine had a pimp. Or, more appropriately, a high-class madam. Even though my natural inclination is to carp about the wine’s clearly internationalized intent, I find it absolutely impossible to dislike the wine. If all the goopy New World monstrosities were actually this good, I might have to reevaluate the genre. Unfortunately (or perhaps thankfully, depending on your vinous religion), they’re not. This, on the other hand, is spectacular. (9/07)

Rocche & roll all night

Brovia 2001 Barolo Rocche dei Brovia (Piedmont) – Very young, of course, but already showing some qualities beyond the tarry primaries…mostly an expansion of the dried-floral aromatics and the emergent promontory of a dense, rocky core covered with a rich layer of brown loam. This is a wine with its roots deep in the earth. (8/07)

Phineas fog

[label]Ettore Germano 2005 Langhe Nebbiolo (Piedmont) – Uninspiring, with obvious and prosaic nebbiolo dominated by its tarry, rather than floral, side and very little promise of inner aromatics to come. The tannin is correspondingly dominant, though there’s plenty of acidity as well. More than a bit hollow. It needs age, certainly, but I’m not sure the result will ever be all that compelling, and balance will remain an area of concern. (9/07)

The Gattinara in the hat

[vineyard]Travaglini 2001 Gattinara (Piedmont) – Tar, but not so much with the roses…though there is a vague floral element here. Mostly, however, this is about pleasant organic elements, autumnal and humid, floating over a moldering bed of moistened earth. It’s fairly tasty, but doesn’t bear any sort of close examination. And I don’t know that it will reward much aging, either. (8/07)

TN: Palmina card

[bottles]Palmina 2001 Nebbiolo Stolpman (Santa Ynez Valley) – One of the most tangible wines I’ve tasted in a long time, with a powder-on-velvet texture that’s absolutely captivating. The nose is explosive, showing blackberries and black cherries undercut by rich black earth, tarragon and skin-like qualities. Balanced, forceful, and beautiful right now, but it will most definitely age. As to the question of whether or not it tastes like nebbiolo: if the standard is Piedmont, it does not. But it’s a terrific wine nonetheless…one of the best reds I’ve had from California in a long, long time. (5/07)