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Posts Tagged ‘Barbera D’Asti’

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.

A casual tasting from a 1975 Spanna to a 2012 Favorita

A last minute offering to host some friends at the house resulted in four of us tasting through some excellent wines.  With a little bit of back and forth Lou, David, and Bill settled down in my living room with variety as our theme.  We began with a Piedmontese white wine which is something I have never tried before.  The 2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi is made from Favorita which is a relative of Vermentino.  Tim (MacArthur Beverages) pointed this wine out to me and I am glad he did.  I was surprised by the floral aromas and even more so by the waxy, sweet lemon fruit, and substantial mouth feel.  It turns out the grapes are harvested ten days after maximum ripeness so as step everything up.  There were comparisons to Loire Chenin Blanc so if this sounds remotely interesting then you must grab a few bottles.

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I kicked off the red wines by serving the 1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara in a paper bag.  I had double-decanted the bottle two hours prior.  Both then and during the tasting I arrested by the amount of sweet fruit and freshness of the flavors.  Indeed, many guesses settled towards Bordeaux from the 1989 or 1990 vintages.  This wine reflected its outstanding provenance as you would expect from a Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Company) selection.  While it comes across as fresh it has complexity from age.  Spanna is the local name for Nebbiolo.  If you have any interest in Barolo or Barbaresco then this wine must be on your list of bottles to try.

We moved onto younger wines.  The first bottle of 1998 Contratto, Solus Ad, Barbera D’Asti was recently brought back from Rome by Lou. Popped and poured, this bottle offered up coffee infused aromas and flavors.  Its heft was balanced by a certain roundness making it a solid, aged Barbera.  The 2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino continued to offer deep, dark fruit flavors that were an easy match for the substantial structure.  At 15 years of age, I found it hard to resist this bottle since the harshness of youth is all gone.  It will continue to develop.  I want to try more Brunello.

We then moved to the Rhone in the form of another brown-bagged wine.  The fruit in the mouth was substantial, which gave me some doubt as to the origins, but I think we all pinned the floral aromas as being from a Syrah and Viognier blend from the Northern Rhone.  There were even guesses as to Cote Rotie but no one got the vintage correct.  The wine turned out to be the 2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie.  David picked it in response to a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape tasting where none of the wines were found to be overripe.  The 2003 vintage was very hot and has its critics.  This bottle of Cote Rotie exhibited the vintage by dialing up the fruit a notch (or two!) without losing any characteristics of the varieties and region.

This was the last good wine we tried.  The bottle of 2007 Bastide St Dominique, Les Hesperides, Chateauneuf du Pape was “troubling” with a consensus that it was heat damaged.  I returned with a brown-bagged 2003 Archery Summit, Pinot Noir, Arcus Estate, Willamette Valley.  David had mentioned the Archery Summit, Arcus in a winter time conversation so I thought this would match with his 2003 theme.  Let’s just say the guesses leaned towards Spanish Grenache.  This massive wine bore no resemblance to Pinot Noir.  While it was not an off bottle, no one drank it.  Why bother when there were so many good wines to return to?

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2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi – $25
Imported by The Sorting Table.  This wine is 100% Favorita.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose attracted with heavy floral aromas which were rather sexy.  In the mouth the flavors were waxy with sweet fruit and lemons.  There is acidity in the start with some chalk in the finish and an aftertaste that left ripe texture on the gums.  If it is a little expansive in the middle then it reigns it in by the finish.  *** Now.

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1975 Antonio Vallana, Gattinara
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  Bottom-neck fill.  There is a little funk and animale on the complex nose which reminds me of some 1960s Californian wines.  In the mouth there is still sweet fruit, lovely acidity, and a impeccable quality of freshness.  The wine is still structured leaving fine grip on the gums. The fruit mixes with floral notes before taking on a hint of tartness.  **** Now but will last for ages.

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1998 Contratto, Solus AD, Barbera D’Asti
Imported in a suitcase.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose evoked coffee and shoyu.  In the mouth the flavors continued with coffee infused dark fruit.  The wine was rounded with some density but did not overreach into sexiness.  There is a roast note to the fruit, good acidity, and fine, drying tannins in the finish. *** Now – 2021.

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2001 Lisini, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Wine Cellars Ltd.  Alcohol 14%.  The deep dark fruit is never ending which acts as a counterpoint to the substantial amount of tannins.  As substantial as the wine is, the acidity is bound in allowing the fruitiness to be enjoyed.  With additional air it takes on hints of wood.  This is still young and will continue to develop for several more years.  **** Now – 2026.

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2003 Duclaux, Cote Rotie
Imported by Chateau & Estate.  This wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier which were co-fermented in concrete vats then aged for roughly two years in a variety of oak casks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is meaty with some maturity and a floral aspect pointing to Viognier.  There is a substantial amount of fruit in the mouth with a lot of drying tannins.  This mouth filling wine is slightly sexy.  If the fruit is almost effusive at the start it takes on tart red and black notes which balance everything out.  A pleasure to drink but will persist.  ***(*) Now – 2021.