Maybe the old argument about traditional and modern winemaking is more blurred than important when seeking value in Piemonte? La Morra is seen by some as the devil of new oak and esoteric science. Well, you can hope new barrels probably won’t feature in a humble Langhe Nebbiolo and it seems they don’t here. A blend of two vineyards, the eponymous, lovely word, S. Francesco and Fotanazza with grapes from a vintage with a reputation. Add some highly polished wine making and deeply flavoured grapes and the result’s a resolved bourgeois glass of rich cherry, Langhe dirt, polished melting tannin and controlled acidity. Great fruit and suave craft. This or old dirty barrels?
14% alcohol. Cork. $50 or so then.
93 points for Nebbiolo in a nice suit.
There’s possibly still a misconception about Dolcetto, the little sweet one; this certainly isn’t sweet or little, more like tackle from one of those Italian centre backs from the eighties. Knees, elbows or whatever it takes. This is savoury, jammed with dark Piemontese earth and astringent to the degree of pizza being a necessity. Dark cherries and soil both in smell and taste. Seems like a hot, dry vintage character with assertive dry skin tannin, almost leathery and very firm but thankfully not sour acidity. If you just tasted between meals, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it too dry and unbalanced but that’s not the way to do it. To the table for sweet tomato and pale mozzarella on a long prove chewy base and so delicioso.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $30 or thereabouts.
92 points but not much else can match a pizza so well.
Clean as the proverbial whistle that wets the lips and pleasures the olfactory bits with bright bramble berries, spice and sweet earth. Bass riff of dark fruit chocolate. Praise for the lovely balance of whole berry fruit cut by guttural Monte tannins and brusque acidity. Extra depth of fruit to finish raises the level above the usual and gives angel wings to tomatoey pasta. Such a modern, fresh full Monty without losing the rustic underwear.
13% alcohol. Screwcap. $22.
Now is the winter of Nebbiolo contentment, again. Pristine bright sugar dusted raspberries and tangy red cherries. Rose perfume lift and almond paste. Really pretty and demanding of another sip, eggs you on with crackling acidity and for Nebbiolo just a drift of fine ripe tannin. Joyful drinking ensues.
14% alcohol. Cork. $49.
A new Barolo producer for me and one to follow further if this is representative. Clean and bright. Pure smells of dried rose, almond, red cherry and no surprise, tarry roads. Medium weight and just the right amount of those ripe firm Neb tannin. Very much in the red fruit and almond range of flavours which the Piemonte cognoscenti suggest is typical of La Morra. Almost the heft and fruit of Barolo proper. Good modernist version without the small barrel intrusion.
14% alcohol. Cork. A lucky $29 auction gamble.
Seems odd that a bit of Italy that produces grapes with tannins to make stewed English tea look wimpy can also value a variety with virtually none. Sweet blackberries, toffee and an earthy stone flavour. Blood orange both in flavour and acidity. Synesthesia suggests purple and blue. It’s a strange perception but there it is. After a lot of stern tannin recently, it’s a surprisingly pleasant change for simple fresh ripe acidity to sweep clean. Roll on summer and a bowl of fresh, sun warmed tomato pasta.
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, bravo. $20, Murphy’s direct imports gets it right now and again.
The relaxed pleasures of the Italian table perhaps touch the sublime in Piemontese inspired cooking? Fresh Tassie truffle liberally sliced over a plate of agnolotti del plin and what to drink? Undeserved spoiling in carefully sipped glasses of Produttori tradition. Great purity, freshness and ripe melting wax tannin. Head full of truffle, rose, cherry, licorice and tar perfume. Great fatty comfort cut by a tannin acid nexus like no other. A few moments of life on planet Earth which offer a very tasty connection to its best farming and cooking tradition. Even at just over ten years in the bottle under the most unreliable of closures, this Nebbiolo is only just starting to soften after a rough double decant. There’s no fat to the ripeness but there’s no green either. The acid cleans up the finish but it helps freshen the lovely mix of red fruit and darker savoury tar. Thanks, Scopri, our local Carlton Italian for birthday spoiling and the best glassware for Neb. Sitting under that huge black and white wall sized print of the Barbaresco landscape only helps the mood.
14% alcohol. Cork. $135.
95 rapturous points.