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Barbera d’Alba from Burlotto

September 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I admit I am relatively new to the wines of G. B. Burlotto despite the winery having been founded in the mid 19th century.  My experience is limited to a few vintages of the ancient variety Pelaverga and one Barolo from 1961.  Today the wines are made by Fabio Alessandria, great-great-grandson of the founder G. B. Burlotto.  Alessandria is said to have reinvigorated the winery through the use of traditional techniques.

He typically produces two Barbera but in 2014 the fruit for his top cuvee Aves was combined to make a single bottling of the 2014 G. B. Burlotto, Barbera d’Alba.  It is a tangy, bright wine with a mouth feel that is even better than the flavor for the suppleness seemingly comes from fat.  The 2015 G. B. Burlotto, Barbera d’Alba Aves  is deeper in flavor with more obvious structure and a stronger mineral presence.  A floral component adds to the complexity.  It will improve with age but is hard to resist right now and yes, the fat impression helps.  Both of these wines are still available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 G. B. Burlotto, Barbera d’Alba – $20
Imported by Elite Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A light to medium ruby with a hint of garnet.  A fine nose.  The tangy and bright start becomes tangier with air. With air the wine mores from a red start to a black finish with pencil lead.  There is moderate suppleness coupled with some surprising fat.  The fat is attractive.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2015 G. B. Burlotto, Barbera d’Alba Aves – $26
Imported by Elite Wines.  Alcohol 15%.  Dark purple-tinged ruby.  A scented nose.  The tangy red fruit is of fine quality and in perfect balance with acidity and structure.  With air the wine becomes mineral, amost black towards the finish where it picks up floral flavors.  It shows a polished wood note, a mineral structure, and fat in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2023.

Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013

The gray weather parted allowing a small group of us to taste through a range of Barbera on my back deck. Unspoken etiquette ensured we had bottles of Champagne and white wine to occupy ourselves as the bottles of Barbera were opened and I fussed with the grill. Both starter bottles were excellent. Having now tasted NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs I can state that I want to drink it again. This is surprisingly complex Champagne with frothy bubbles and balance such that it should be drunk up right now. If you like mature Champagne go buy several bottles. The 2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes is comparatively younger in profile with its dense flavors of nuts and tropical fruit. It is a lot of wine.

We began the Barbera tasting with a trio of four old wines, one of which was bagged. My favorite is the 1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco. Some did not like it which meant I was left with the lion’s share of old-school sweaty aromas and sweet, concentrated, silky fruit. From the same vintage I also liked the 1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva which with one “b” is one of Italy’s smallest DOCs from Monferrato and not to be confused with the estate from the south of Florence. The brighter fruit and blood are gently delivered making for a different expression of Barbera. This brightness could be attributed to the wine containing up to 10% Freisa and Grignolino.  Our oldest bottle of 1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera is a survivor for I drank a glass of leftovers the next night with only slightly diminished pleasure. It is bright, tart, and bit acidic making it more of a curiosity. The brown-bagged 1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera is a wine that is simply too old.

Our next two bottles were flawed. It is a shame because the 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba has the potential to be very good. There is not telling what the 1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba should be like.

In young territory the 2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti is young primary and attractively floral. In contrast the 2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti sports heft, brawn, and good flavor. It is one to age for many more years. Also promising is the elegant and impeccably balanced 2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba. The last bottle of 2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti proved to be the youngest and most modern wine. It is a good, articulated wine but not of my preferred style.  Based on these wines I would like to repeat the tasting but focus in on 1990s and older.

NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs
Becky Wasserman selection imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The nose begins with a yeast hint then toast and apple orchard aromas which together make for a very satisfying nose. In the mouth are racy flavors of delicate berries, definitely fruity, and frothy bubbles. The fizz is not hard rather it is subtle. This is an excellent wine for drinking now, it is complex with baking spices and a clean finish.  **** Now.

2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 14.7%. The color is bright and golden with a green hint. The flavors mix nuts with tropical fruit with a tilt towards sweet flavors. This fine, dense wine has a minerally middle.  Good stuff! **** Now – 2020.

1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose is musky at first morphing to old leather as it cleans up and with air adds in cinnamon. The wine itself is earthy with bright acidity and a clean flavor profile of tart cherry and cranberry red fruit. It is a little tired towards the finish but the tart fruit persists in the aftertaste. ** Now.

1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera (brown bagged mystery wine)
Alcohol 12.5%. A garnet color but one sniff and taste tell that this wine is way past prime. Not Rated.

 

1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. This wine is probably a blend of 90%-95% Barbera with the rest Freisa and Grignolino.  Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose smells of blood. In the mouth this is a bright, forward wine with nice bright acidity and up-front grip. It sports an old-school gentleness and softness. Notes of polished wood eventually come out. The blood returns in the aftertaste. *** Now but will last.

1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco, Colline Novaresi
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is old-school, sweaty and sweet. In the mouth the ripe fruit is sweet with concentration. This silky, smooth wine gains focus and length with air. There is fine texture and weight to the core of fruit which is surrounded by sweaty notes and wood. **** Now but will last.

1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. Sadly cooked on the nose. In the mouth though are gobs of mouth filling fruit with a fine, ripe texture from the tannins. There are tart red fruit flavors in the finish. Correct bottles should be quite good. Not Rated.

1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba
Alcohol 14.5%. Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The nose is still young and clean with finely scented aromas of violets. Still youthful in the most this primary wine is fresh with watering acidity. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The color is darker with a purple tinge. The nose sports more heft to the aromas. In the mouth the flavors are brawnie and matched by additional tannins. There is dark red fruit, rounded feel, and a good personality. This will age for a long time. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2007 G. D. Vajra, Barbera D’Alba Superiore
Imported by The Country Vintner. Alcohol 14.5%. It is hard to get past the over-ripe, full-bore fruit. The wine becomes tangy with serious weight.  ** Now.

 

2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. An elegant nose moves on to bright red fruit over a black fruit foundation. This wine is balanced with grippy personality, texture and some ink. The structure is finely integrated with the fruit. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Folio Wine Partners. Alcohol 14.5%. This is an articulated, young, modern wine that is not without attraction. Not really my style but I can appreciate it.  *** Now – 2025.

The lively 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba

Fratelli Alessandria has produced a Barbera d’Alba from “slimy limestone” soils since 1968, though the family has owned the winery since the 19th century.  The current 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba is a lively, tangy wine that provides good fun.  After a small period of breathing it comes into its own offering flavors from tangy red fruit to blue and black by the finish.  There is structure for short-term development but the acidity will make you want to drink it this year.  This is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba – $16
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 20 year old vines.  It was fermented stainless steel tanks then aged in a combination of stainless steel and cement.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is lively, tangy fruit, spices and mineral.  The acidity is immediately attractive.  The wine quickly opens up with air.  The bright entry brings tannins, red fruit, and a minerally tang then the wine morphs to a blue and black fruited middle.  *** Now – 2019.

David finds “A Barbera Masterpiece”

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2006 Giacomo Conterno, Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia
Needs two hours of decanting to really open up.  An infant.  A wine that demonstrates that Barbera can be great in the hands of a great winemaker.  Bitter chocolate.  Dark cherries.  Earthy. And a mineral streak and acid backbone that makes this irresistible.  An incredible midpalate.  Great length on the finish.  Tough to think of a better Italian food wine.  A stupendous Barbera that will provide an easy decade more of great drinking.

Tasting notes for Italian wines opened these last few months

The buying of the new house followed by the sale of our old house was a massively time consuming effort.  We mostly drank from a rotation of a dozen different wines but there were new bottles opened as well.  Throughout that period I continued to post on what I felt were the most interesting wines.  I did manage to take other notes and transport many empty bottles to the new house.  In this post I feature a range of Italian wines tasted during our house transition.

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The Italian selection at MacArthur Beverages provides a steady cache of affordable wines with some age.  The 2004 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese, Vigne Becchie, Sicilia Rosso is old-school both in style and price.  It is a wine that everyone should try but I would suggest you set aside your bottles for the next several years.   The 2009 Pino, Barbera d’Alba offers the most maturity right now out of all that were tasted.  Two selections that drink well now but are poised to open up within the next few years include the 2008 Firmino Miotti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Breganza and the 2009 Pelissero, Tulin, Barbera d’Alba.  For those looking for a good wine to drink tonight then grab the 2013 Azienda Agricola 499, Freisa, Langhe and 2012 Pico Maccario, Lavignone, Barbera d’Asti.

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2008 Batzella, Pean, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc which spent 15 months in barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed dark tobacco aromas.  In the mouth this dry wine had a leather note followed by fresh, black fruit and an earthy hint.  The finish was lively with drying structure.  With air the structure became harsh and the wine unevolved though it developed more leather, tobacco, and spices in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2025?

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2004 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese, Vigne Becchie, Sicilia Rosso – $26
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine had more coiled power with upfront and lovely  integrated acidity, lots of texture, and verve.  Clearly a young wine it sported complexity from an earthy and foxy hint in the acidity driven finish.  It even took on a perfumed note.  It has a vibrancy that reminds me of a glass aged wine that will develop for years to come.  **(*) 2020-2030.

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2012 Calabretta, Gaio Gaio, Sicilia – $17
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  The attractive nose bore subdued aromas of roses, tar, and cherries.  In the mouth were tart and focused flavors of red and black fruit that were somewhat rounded.  The wine had salivating acidity, grip from the tannins, and an old wood note.  It continued to show very focused fruit.  **(*) Now – 2022.

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2012 Paolo Cali, Mandragola, Vittoria Frappato – $17
Imported by RWK Imports.  This wine is 100% Frappato.  Alcohol 13%.  There were heavy, wafting Frappato aromas highlighted by fresh pepper.  This was a light to medium bodied wine with fruit that bore weight and fine texture with extract.  It had the expected, unusual flavor with a dry finish of ripe, orange-creamsicle and dry black fruit.  The flavors were clearly hard for me to describe.  With air it became riper and a touch softer.  ** Now – 2016.

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2007 Castelluccio, Ronco dei Ciliegi, Forli – $23
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There were dark, leaner aromas with some wood.  This firm wine, was stone-like with black fruit, watering acidity, and old polished wood.  The flavors were lighter in weight with a dry nature and a  hint of roast.  Even with only a bit of structure left this will live for quite some time.  **(*) Now -2025.

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2011 Cesari, Bosan, Valpolicello Superiore Ripasso – $31
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella.  Alcohol 14%.  The fresh nose revealed ample tobacco aromas backed by cola with undertones of raisins.  The flavors began with a mineral thread before a brief spell of maturity.  There were drier raisin flavors and a developing tobacco note.  This gentle wine had a rather subtle structure that matched the compote of fruit and underlying black flavors.  Though forward drinking, I would give this another year or so to integrate the ripasso flavors.  *** Now – 2022.

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2011 Conterno Fantino, Vignota, Barbera d’Alba – $26
Imported by Neil Empson.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The linear, black fruit took on extract and strawberry flavor.  It had juicy acidity and a dark, rather ripe note.  *** 2016 – 2022.

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2009 Gagliasso, Vigna Ciabot Russ, Barbera d’Alba – $17
Imported by .  Alcohol 14.5%.  This rather dark wine had matching aromas of dark red, raisined fruit.  The flavors were similar in the mouth but the forward acidity kept things sharp.  The drying structure was a touch coarse but the sweet, spiced, old wood was attractive.  With air tart, black and red fruit flavors developed some weight and became puckering in the finish.  Unfortunately some heat was breaking out.  ** Now-2020.

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2012 Pico Maccario, Lavignone, Barbera d’Asti – $16
Imported by Massinois Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  I kid you not, but the nose smelled of cat fur.  In the mouth were bright, yet tart and ripe red fruit which tasted fresh.  This wine had clean fruit, water acidity, a tough of verve and grip, and even some density.  A wine for now.  ** Now-2017.

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2013 Massolino, Barbera d’Alba – $22
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The firm fruit flavors were of tart black fruit that took on a subtle red grapefruit note.  The acidity was noticeable from the start and matched the fresh structure which was evident in the finish.  There was a lovely, ethereal flavor in the middle which, when combined with the suggest of strength from the tannins, indicate this wine should develop.  **(*) 2016-2022.

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2008 Firmino Miotti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Breganza – $21
Imported by Il Pioppo.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a complex nose of cherry fruit that made way to round flavors of red fruit in the mouth.  Accented by some greenhouse notes this wine tasted like a cooler climate Cab.  The flavors turned blacker with more focus, integrated acidity, and some drying structure on the gums.  There were minerals in the finish followed by a tart aftertaste.  With air the wine tastes even young and should continue to develop for several more years.  It maintained good tension that keeps one’s interest.    *** Now-2022.

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2009 Pino, Barbera d’Alba – $23
Imported by Potomac Selections.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was reasonably aromatic with dark, plummy notes.  In the mouth was a mixture of cedar and red fruit before the mature flavors of the middle took on minerals.  There was some firmness in the finish with almost puckering acidity that left impressions of ripe fruit in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2020.

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2009 Pelissero, Tulin, Barbera d’Alba – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were low-lying aromas of fruit on the nose.  In the mouth were savory flavors of blue and black fruit that worked well with the integrated acidity.  The wine tightened up in the finish with both tannins and polished wood.  With air, it exhibited cleaner fruit, that was tart and lighter but had a strength in the middle.  There was a touch of a spicy finish before the racy hint in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2025.

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2013 Azienda Agricola 499, Freisa, Langhe – $18
Imported by Free Run Wine Merchants.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The red fruit bore a touch of greenhouse the morphed into fuzzy red and black fruit.  There were fine,dry, coating tannins that did not overwhelm the fruit.  ** Now.

Four Barbera d’Alba from the 2012 vintage including the excellent Andrea Oberto

As we continue to seemingly spend all of our money on paint, cleaning supplies, and pillows for staging, we maintain a need for affordable, interesting wines.  The 2012 vintage is a strong one for Barbera d’Alba so in this post I focus in on four selections priced from $13 to $18 per bottle.  These selections were all vinified in stainless steel with all but one aged in wood.  The wines ranged from rather ripe and forward to balanced.  The 2012 Mauro Molino, Barbera d’Alba offers a decent value with subdued flavors of tangerines, red fruit, and bacon fat. The 2012 Rocca Giovanni, Pianromualdo, Barbera d’Alba steps up a bit with better acidity, minerality, and structure leaving the impression of a good wine for the price.  Our hands-down favorite is the 2012 Andrea Oberto, Barbera d’Alba.  From the aromatic nose to the long aftertaste it is a wine you will want to smell and drink.  What’s great is that it is approachable right now, just give it half an hour in the decanter.  It is a clear step up from the other selections so go grab a few bottles! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Cascina Chicco, Granera Alta, Barbera d’Alba – $17
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines averaging 10 years of age.  It was fermented in in stainless steel then aged in wood casks and used French barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There seemed to be some volatile acidity on the nose along with linear aromas of fresh floral black fruit.  In the mouth were nice focused flavors of floral citrus fruit, watering acidity, and some rough structure. *(*) 2016-2019.

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2012 Rocca Giovanni, Pianromualdo, Barbera d’Alba – $14
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines planted in 1958 that underwent temperature controlled fermentation followed by 10 months aging in barrique.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose bore very ripe, grainy fruit aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were fruit forward before a tight, ripe core of black fruit came hint.  This had a mineral hint with salivating acidity and a dry, textured finish.  The wine shows some density, a little wood note, and leaves the impression of being a nice wine for the price.  ** Now-2018.

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2012 Mauro Molino, Barbera d’Alba – $13
Imported by J.W. Sieg & Co.  This wine is 100% Barbera that was vinified then aged for six months in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose of black fruit was lifted by both greenhouse aromas and fresh tangerines.  In the mouth were attractive flavors of tangerine red fruit that came across in a slightly creamy and subdued fashion.  It took on some tart flavor but that was tempered by bacon fat flavors.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Andrea Oberto, Barbera d’Alba – $18
Imported by M R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines in La Morra.  The fruit was vinified in stainless steel then 60% was aged for 8 months in stainless steel and 40% was aged for 6 months in new barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a fine, proper nose.  In the mouth the black and red fruit was slightly brighter than the nose suggested.  There was both a citrus flavor and bacon fat aspect.  There was moderate structure with citric pithe tannins.  The aftertaste left flavor on the inside of the gums. Top-notch.  *** Now-2018.

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Five different Barbera d’Alba

It may be that there are not enough hours in the day to prepare my house, work, and write about the history of wine.  Fortunately, I can still taste wine! It was great fun to go through the five Barbera d’Alba wines featured in this post because they were all so different.  I will keep my commentary short as I plan to taste through a second set. The 2013 De Forville, Barbera d’Alba is a well-priced, grapey wine that will develop over the short term.  The evergreen forest aroma was a new experience for me!  The 2011 A&G Fantino, Cascina Dardi, Barbera d’Alba had a rather ripe nose but in the mouth it was all in balance with bonus  earthy flavors.  Of all five wines this is the one you can drink right away.  The 2009 Domenico Clerico, Trevigne, Barbera d’Alba has a killer nose but packs in some serious structure that still needs many years to resolve.  Definitely lay a few bottles down. The 2009 Giacomo Grimaldi, Pistin, Barbera d’Alba might be too funky for some but I was oddly attracted to this elegant wine.  Finally, the 2009 Marziano Abbona, Rinaldi, Barbera d’Alba came as over ripe and a bit to much for my preference.  If it were dialed back a notch it would then be in balance with the earth, fruit, and cedar.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 De Forville, Barbera d’Alba – $17
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines averaging 30 years of age in Barbaresco, Neive, and Alba.  The fruit  was fermented in stainless steel then aged for one year in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed clean fruit that morphed into aromas of an evergreen forest.  The tart red fruit changed to black fruit with acidity driven flavors noticeable on the front of the tongue.  With moderate structure the wine came across as classically tight.  With air the wine was very grapey with forward acidity, a tart, linear middle, wrapped up with a nice grapey structure.  **(*) Now-2023.

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2011 A&G Fantino, Cascina Dardi, Barbera d’Alba – $20
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 60 year old vines on sandy clay soils that was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 18 months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose bore ripe aromas that approached that of raisins.  In the mouth this was clearly a more forward wine with ripe flavors that were balanced by tart flavors on the tongue tip.  It had grip, salivating acidity, and an attractive earthy hint in the aftertaste.  With air the ripe, earthy flavors filled the mouth and developed well, taking on citrus undertones.  *** Now-2020.

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2009 Domenico Clerico, Trevigne, Barbera d’Alba – $25
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from the Trevigne cru that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12-16 months in 40% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose of pure licorice remained attractive over two days.  In the mouth were fresh, dry black flavors, licorice, and obvious structure.  The acidity was integrated with the drying tannins mixing with minty fresh finish that was slightly spicy.  With air the wine remained very much the same.  Young! **(*) 2028-2026+.

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2009 Giacomo Grimaldi, Pistin, Barbera d’Alba – $26
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, and Novello that was fermented in and aged for 9 months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  This was quite funky at first on the nose but then it cleaned up.  The flavors showed restraint and were fresh from the acidity with both ripeness and texture in good balance.  It showed spices and some roughness.  With air the flavors became slightly funk with raspberry candy, hard red fruit, and lovely acidity.  There was moderate structure and just a hint of old wood.  *** Now-2023.

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2009 Marziano Abbona, Rinaldi, Barbera d’Alba – $20
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons. This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from a single vineyard in Monforte d’Alba with 35-50+ year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel where it was aged for six months followed by eight months in French oak casks. Alcohol 15%.  The nose bore dark aromas.  In the mouth the flavors coated the tongue with ripe, earthy red fruit, mushrooms, and almost raisinated fruit.  The acidity was supporting but there was a touch of heat in the finish after which the structure became noticeable.  With air this dense, ripe wine showed extract and picked up a bit of cedar in the finish.  ** Now-2020.

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