Browse Tag



Alessandria 2004 Barolo Monvigliero (Piedmont) – Let me preface this note by saying that at the time I drink this wine, I’m in the early stages of what will eventually be a three-week misery of sickness, the worst I’ve experience since I was swaddled. So there’s every reason to suspect that my palate is not 100%, or at least of which 100% it might be capable. I mention this because I struggle to find aromatic interest in this wine, which is never a welcome absence in a nebbiolo. The structure, while certainly dominant, isn’t as forbidding as it could be. And there’s a lot of density to the wine. But other qualities…I’m just not seeing them. (11/11)

Colline taxi

Le Piane 2004 Colline Novaresi “La Maggiorina” (Piedmont) – An aging experiment. At release, the “red riesling” aspect of the wine – mineral, linear, precise, and chilly – was very evident, but since then bottles have been tentative at best, providing only icy structure without much else. Since I’ve no experience aging this wine, there was no way to know if this was a closed period or just the wine’s slow descent into rigor mortis.

Well, this bottle provides a measure of hope, though of course I still don’t know how matters will develop from here. The fruit is back, darker and more developed than it was, though there’s still a strong sensation of restraint, or even diffidence. The structure is no less chilly. It’s far from an expressive wine, but with careful listening there’s a quiet story being told. (1/12)

Space Oddero

Oddero 1998 Barolo (Piedmont) – I admit to struggling with this wine, never quite sure if it’s corked (if so, it’s sub-my-threshold) or just being a typically antisocial mid-life Barolo. The only thing of sure of is that, based on numbers and history rather than organoleptics, this is probably a suboptimal age to be drinking a traditionally-styled Barolo. It is not, in any sense, giving of itself, except with clouds of obscurative tannin and an angry snarl. Structurally and temporally, all seems to be right with the wine, and my worries about taint are not shared by anyone else who tastes it. So if this bottle is representative, this is no time to be drinking it. If it’s not, then I just don’t know. And there’s always the possibility that the current problem is the taster and not the wine. (11/11)

Dizzy Arneis

Brovia 2010 Roero Arneis (Piedmont) – I’d say that this wine serves as a constant counterpoint to those who insist that the Piedmont doesn’t produce interesting white wines, but of course a handful of fine arneis (and the very occasional nascetta) do not a robust counterargument make. Dense, with just enough light and space to let the apple blossom and honey (dry, dry honey) through, as they ooze with white powdered minerality. (11/11)

Chinato up

Cappellano Barolo Chinato (Piedmont) – I admit to having, in the past, struggled with this construct’s occasionally overwhelming volatile acidity. It’s not absent here, but it’s under control, and the result is predictably gorgeous. Probably the best straight-ahead chinato I’ve ever had, in fact (there are variations on the theme that have been awfully compelling). Tannin, herbs both prosaic and exotic, a taste of Old Europe rent and torn by more than a touch of Southeast Asia. Fascinating, relentlessly complex, and utterly compelling. (10/11)

Rossore spot

iuli 2008 Barbera del Monferrato (Piedmont) – Red-fruited with earth, which is exactly what ones want from grape and appellation. Pushed just a little bit into the modern-but-authentic style, in that the fruit is dialed up just a bit, in greater proportion to the acidity than might once have been the case (though Monferrato wines are rarely the sharp little things that other sub-appellations within the Piedmont can be), and as a result the earthen texture also takes on a somewhat greater role. An immensely appealing wine, which makes it all the more confusing that so many producers go on to overburden their barberas with excess fruit and layers of wood. (9/11)

iuli 2007 Barbera del Monferrato “Rossore” (Piedmont) – Pushed fruit, but it’s pressing against a bit of a wall of awkward structure, including a thin wallpapering of tannin that just doesn’t seem to belong to this wine, but feels borrowed from somewhere else. The fruit is pure reddish-purple, there’s plenty of acidity, and there’s black trumpet earthiness, but the flying limbs are really only brought into coherence by food. Though that is, perhaps, part of the point and a lesson. Still, I’ve liked this wine more from other bottles. (9/11)

Mon dia at a time

La Mondianese 2009 Grignolino d’Asti (Piedmont) – While I appreciate the “traditional” almost-oxidized, brownout style of grignolino of which I’ve tasted a fair amount, I do prefer the grape’s more intact charms. And charming this is, with gentle dried red berries and fresh tobacco leaves done in a “cute” style. Impossible to dislike. (9/11)

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)

A tip of the Capp

Cappellano 1961 Barolo (Piedmont) – Some things transcend description not because of their inherent qualities but because of their unlikely reality. So it is with old wines. I mean, I love describing them – the longest note I’ve ever written was about a Vouvray of about this age – but when one has been lucky enough to have a fair number of such artifacts, the purpose of extensive notation becomes less clear. Because, really, how meaningful is the description? There’s almost none of this wine left, what’s left is incredibly expensive, and even if a bottle can be secured the likelihood of this bottle and another having much in common grows lower each year. So here, there’s a fragile, incredibly delicate wine of sweet berries and almost no remaining structure, and while that fragility shouldn’t be mistaken for decrepitude (it’s extremely intact, supple, and present), it’s certainly not going anywhere else worth waiting for. It’s a beautiful, beautiful old wine, with its diminishing bottle count reduced by one, but I enjoyed drinking it more than I’ve enjoyed writing about it. (8/11)


Produttori del Barbaresco 2006 Barbaresco (Piedmont) – L.10.155, for those keeping track. A really nice wine, with the dry structure and dried aromatics of a fine nebbiolo. It’s blendedness keeps it from expressing any particulars from its place, yet it does taste like a Barbaresco. (7/11)

Produttori del Barbaresco 2006 Barbaresco (Piedmont) – I don’t know that I’d often be moved to call any Bararesco not issuing from the house of Gaja or their brethren as “lush,” but there’s a certain lushness to the granulated flower petal aromatics of this wine that have always been part of its early appeal. That said, it’s less fleshy than it was at release, already retreating behind tannin that (again, in context) seemed a little smoother and more approachable than normal. It needs food right now, but very soon all it’s going to need is time. (9/11)