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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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A Pair from Castello di Neive

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment
Castello di Neive, Image from Castello di Neive

Castello di Neive, Image from Castello di Neive

Castello di Neive has its roots in the original vineyards purchased by Giacomo Stupino.  As a surveyer he had good knowledge of the land and purchased ideal vineyards or land whenever possible.  In 1964 the Stupino family purchased Castello di Neive from Count Guido Riccardi Candiani.  They subsequently renovated the extensive cellars and reorganized the vineyards.  Today the property is run by the Stupino brothers and sisters who produce wine from some 62 acres.  Though many of the vineyards were purchased in the 20th century the castle is rather historic and built for the production of wine.  The castle dates to the mid 18th century when it was built on 16th-17th century foundations.  It features a two level cellar which is built into the hill.  The cellar features tall vaulted ceiling to accommodate large barrels.  There is also an infernotto or cold larder use to preserve cured meats, eggs, cheese, and wine.  Wine is produced from eight different vineyards.  The wines featured in today’s post are specifically from i Cortini and Santo Stefanoi Cortini is the closest vineyard to the castle and only features 1.25 hectares of Pinot Nero.  The Santa Stefano vineyard was originally fallow land acquired during the purchase of the castle.  It was transformed into a vineyard right away with the oldest vines currently being replanted.  Here they farm Nebbiolo, Riesling (!), and 1.58 hectares of Barbera.

i Cortini Vineyard, Image from Castello di Neive

i Cortini Vineyard, Image from Castello di Neive

Both of these wines were solid bottles but not thrilling.  While I liked the grippy nature of the Pinot Nero I preferred the Barbera d’Alba.  It might be best in half a year or so to allow the nose to open up, it remained quite tight over two nights.  The flavors, which I wish had more depth, were certainly delivered quite expansively.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2008 Castello di Neive, Santo Stefano, Barbera D’Alba – $16
Imported by Castello di Neive.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines planted in 1948, 1979, 2001, and 2005 on calcareous soils at 825 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 9 months in stainless steel and 3500 L used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  The nose was tight, only revealing some red and black fruit.  In the mouth there was tangy red fruit which was delivered with some gusto.  The acidity expands the flavors into the sides of the mouth.  A gritty texture comes out with some gentle salivation.  There is a long finish with some cranberry flavors in the aftertaste. ** Now-2017.

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2010 Castello di Neive, i Cortini, Pinot Nero, Langhe – $17
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Pinot Nero sourced from vines planted between 1988 and 2008 on marl soils at 750 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for one year in both stainless steel and used French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a nice, light nose of grapey, ripe red fruit.  In the mouth there was bright and tart red fruit with a little hint of red grapefruit.  The wine itself was a bit more linear than the Barbera d’Alba.  There was more red fruit in the finish which was a bit grippy.  ** Now-2015.

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We Try Dolcetto and Nebbiolo

Barrles Aging in Cellar, Image from Paitin

The Giovanni Rocca is a Farello Wine Selection imported by Monsieur Touton and available for $17 at MacArthurs.  The Paitin is imported by the Roanoke Valley Wine Company and available for $20 at MacArthurs.  I would recommend trying both of these wines.  I suspect the Giovanni Rocca will appeal to a wider audience with its soft, creamy, approachable nature.  The Paitin has more complex flavors which are livelier due to the structure.  I would give it another year or two to see how it develops.  For maximum enjoyment taste both of these wines with friends then let me know what you think!

2008 Azienda Agricola Giovanni Rocca, Pianromualdo, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC
This wine has dark cherry flavors which are primary and dense.  Tart fruit and acidity comes out mid palate with a tickling on the tip of the tongue.  It is creamy, delicate with butter notes.  This may be drunk now or within a few years. ** Now-2014.

2008 Paitin de Pasquero, Ca Veja, Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo aged for one year in French tonneaux and barriques.  The spritely red fruit has pomegranate like qualities mixed with bright blue fruit.  There is a bit of texture to the fruit.  The ripe tannins coat the top of the cheek and along with the acidity provide noticeable structure.  With air the nose takes on more floral aromas and the fruit gains texture. **(*) 2014-2019.