This past week we’ve been introduced to younger Nebbiolo and I’m on board for the long haul. I used to always think of Nebbiolo like Cabernet in that it needed time for the tannins to mellow out but that’s not always the case. It’s true that Good Barolo and Barbaresco will often be more approachable with age like a good Cabernet however there are young Nebbiolos to be found at bargain prices that make great weeknight wines. This 2011 Silvio Giamello Nebbiolo is a perfect example. It does have some tannin but it’s very approachable and full of floral, earth, spice, and dark fruit notes. It’s young and alive on the palate and a little in your face vs. an aged, sophisticated, and complex Barolo. The best part is it’s only $20 wheras a quality Barolo or Barbaresco is going to run you at least $50. This is a very differenet way to experience Nebbiolo and something you can keep in your cellar for a nice hearty Italian dish on a weeknight where you don’t want to go crazy.
For dinner last night we made sweet Italian sausage in a tomato meat sauce with some rigatoni and garlic bread and opened this gem from Wine Library. This is by far the oldest, most unique, and on of the the best Barberas we’ve ever drank. It’s perfectly normal to question a 14 year old Barbera but Ian told us it was fantastic and he was right.
colonelgrape: 97. I have to give this the nod over the 09 Tenuta Olim we had last month as Barbera of the year so far. This is a spectacular wine. The first thing that stood out was the color was a combination of crushed brick and dirt, not much purple left. Earth, red fruit, and minerals on the nose. It was bigger than I expected on the palate, rich, decidedly full bodied, yet not overpowering. The acid was there but it had mellowed over time into a delightful yet background experience. The structure reminded me of a well aged Rhone or Bordeaux but the flavor was decidedly Piedmont. This was a unique Barbera experience. The best part is the price has bottomed out from $60 to $35 yet the wine still has life. I bought 6 more bottles for our cellar and UncleGrape picked up 3…if you find it (Ian has 4 left) and love Piedmont you need to experience this bottle.
MobyGrape: 95: Sweet merciful crap, this wine has forever changed the face of Mondays for me. Seriously, this wine is powerful. It was earthy and rustic (which is very much my thing right now) and looked like a glass full of brick-purple mud. It had a cherry flavor to it and I didn’t find it to be very acidic at all, or at least not annoyingly so (guess what isn’t my thing right now). Then again this wine could have convinced me that I was a goat, I would have believed it. I think this wine glamoured me, I looked into its eyes and I was helpless to resist. It’s sexy vampire wine. I’m thinking less Count Chocula and more Eric Northman.
The gang was back together again at Aunt and UncleGrape’s house on Saturday night for another spectacular dinner. We were joined by CousinGrapette, BoyfriendGrape, as well as SisterGrape who took a trip from school to join us. Fresh off our trips to Union Square, Eataly, and of course the Wine Library we got to work on dinner. Here was our menu:
Appetizers: Smoked duck breast, wild boar salami, goat cheese with rosemary olive sourdough bread, daikon radish with hummus or spicy brown mustard and Hawaiin volcano sea salt.
Main Course: Roasted boneless leg of lamb infused with garlic and rubbed with spicy brown mustard.
Dessert: Italian cookies with pistachio cream spread and assorted chocolates.
With the appetizers we decided to go with French whites. We started with the NV Guy Larmandier 1er Cru Champagne which was crisp, light, refreshing and had just the right amount of bubbles. That was followed by the 2011 Gilbert Picq Chablis which was similar to the Champagne w/o the carbonation. I probably favored the Champagne over the Chablis and Moby did for sure. I learned that Vielles Vignes means old vines after I butchered trying to say it in front of UncleGrape who speaks fluent French. While the duck and boar probably could have stood up to a light red the whites went well with everything. The duck was tender with just the right amount of smoke and the boar had an interesting sweetness to go along with good texture. The goat cheese paired well with the bread for a creamy mouthful of food. The daikon was very interesting…to me it tasted like a crunch wafer made of mushrooms and onion but it worked well with the smooth hummus and red volcano salt. All the appetizers were promptly destroyed and it was time to move onto the main course.
Since I got my hands on some 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel recently I brought a bottle and we decided to go a horizontal tasting of 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape.
1. 1995 Domaine de Beaurenard Boisrenard
2. 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel
3. 1995 Domaine de la Janasse
We started the meal a little bit later than anticipated because we didn’t realize the lamb was still partially frozen in the center. Not a problem for the Grape family as we had plenty of wine to keep us busy. We started with the Boisrenard which was surprisingly still tight. UncleGrape explained that 1995’s were historically tight but while it still had solid fruit coming through a bunch of us thought this was a bit too tight still. I’d love to try it again in 5-10 years.
We then moved on to the Beaucastel which had a very distinct old bandaid smell to it. Sounds appetizing right? It was delicious! UncleGrape filled us in on the smell…it’s called “brett”. Brett is a type of yeast called Brettanomyces that can be found on the skin of fruit and therefore in wine. Small amounts of brett are generally regarded as good for the flavor of the wine however large amounts can cause problems. That being said the Beaucastel was very bretty. AuntGrape is notorious for loving bretty wines so it’s no surprise she loved it the most. We enjoyed it too and it was an educational experience.
Lastly we had the Janasse. Our last trip we had the 2000 which was good but not the best of the night however I’d argue for the 95 taking the show this time. I thought it had the most balance but not everyone agreed with me.
We couldn’t come to a consensus on the Chateauneuf like we did last time with the 2000 Charvin stealing the show. Here’s how we ranked them:
AuntGrape (brett lover): 2-3-1
Since Moby and I write the blog we’re going to declare the Janasse the winner but it was a split decision for sure. The one thing we all agreed on though is that the 1989 Parusso Bussia Barolo was the wine of the weekend. The Chateauneuf was great but the Barolo outclassed them all.
Last but not least AuntGrape treated us all to a very rare (and previously illegal in the United States) Italian digestif…Cocchi Barolo Chinato. Having never heard of it Moby and I were all in. We learned that Barolo Chinato is a standard barolo infused with spices and most importantly quinine which why it was illegal in the United States as that’s a drug found in prescription medications! The spices and quinine give it a gin like, piney taste to go along with some sweetness. On it’s own we weren’t huge fans but when paired with dark chocolate it was spectacular. Something about the combination worked wonders. We also had the Italian cookies and pistachio cream spread which was crazy good. The spread was a honey like consistency but had a sweetness to go along with the strong pistachio taste. We liked the wine much better with the chocolate than the cookies and spread but we both would have eaten the spread right out of the jar it was that good.
We concluded our trip next morning by making breakfast with the duck, turkey, and pheasant eggs which was great. The duck was probably the most different having a huge yolk and slightly different texture, the others tasted similar to a chicken egg just different sizes. We learned about brett and Barolo Chinato, had great food, great wine, and spent time with family so all in all it was a great trip. Keep an eye out for that 1989 Parusso!!!
Our first night visiting with Aunt and UncleGrape lead us back to 3Guys. Their food is always excellent and it’s BYO so it’s a perfect low key dinner to get the weekend started. Before heading to dinner we had some aperitifs at the house and went with two Italian whites. First the 2011 La Scola Gavi Bianco Secco which is made primarily from Garganega grapes. Not a big hit across the board, kind of hollow/boring, I wouldn’t recommend it. Next we had the 2011 Fattoria di Magliano Pagliatura which is made primarily from Vermentino grapes and it was excellent. Tart and flavorful, this was a nice alternative to the standard Chablis or Sauvignon Blancs of the world but with a similar flavor.
SisterGrape met us at the restaurant and we brought along some Nebbiolos. For starters we had clams casino, sausage and broccoli rabe, garlic bread with mozarella, and potato croquettes. Being our usual selves I had the veal parm and Moby had the gnocchi. It all paired wonderfully with the Nebbiolos.
2010 Sottimano Langhe Nebbiolo: A Barolo/Barbaresco from outside of their respective regions. Very young wine and UncleGrape pre-dinner decanted it for a couple of hours which was necessary. Still tannic but approachable. Great buy for under $20.
2004 Paride Iaretti Gattinara: Interesting story from UncleGrape about this wine. It was unavailable for purchase online so he went on facebook and became friends with the producer. From there he was able to track some at a local store in the city. I haven’t been on facebook in years but that’s a cool way to track down some rare wine. I liked this better than the Sottimano, it was more approachable. Another great value wine…if you can find it.
This brings us to the star of the night…the 1989 Parusso Bussia Barolo. Absolutely fantastic Barolo that opened up beautifully after a quick 20 minute decant. As you’ll read in our next few posts we sampled 11 bottles this weekend and this was the clear favorite. I’d love to have a case but the 89′ has vanished from the internet. I’m not sure how many bottles UncleGrape has left in his cellar but if you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some 89′ Parusso…do it. It certainly won’t be a value but you will be rewarded. Don’t sit on it though, it’s ready to drink!
Hello Piedmont, I’ve missed you. This bottle is another treat from Ian at Wine Library. Last time we spoke I mentioned I was looking for some good value Barolo’s and this bottle is $40. Normally I’m pro trying wines just by buying and trying with basic knowledge but like Bordeaux’s it’s important to do some research on a Barolo before you buy it because you can easily overpay for a lesser bottle. With typical prices ranging from $40-ridiculous I’d recommend talking to a trusted friend at the store or a trusted website (Grapestorm!) thinks before you buy. Everyone should drink Barolo, it’s that good, just be sure to do your homework!
colonelgrape: 93. One thing I enjoy about a Barolo is the color. Swirling, smelling, and inspecting Barolo’s is a lot of fun. This bottle has the classic translucense and brick red color of aged Nebbiolo grapes. Leather, red fruit, tar, and anise come through. It’s a young wine so the tannis are still firm but there’s enough acid and flavor to make it approachable now. We only decanted it for about 20 minutes but I’d recommend decanting a solid hour. This should get better with time in the cellar and for $40 it’s a fantastic bargain.
MobyGrape: 89. It was up to me to pick the Barolo for the evening so naturally, the one named Guido was the obvious choice. I’ve gotten so used to wines that look muddy it was weird to pour a clear brick colored one. It didn’t decant for long, and may have been a bit tannin-y up front, but it mellowed out after a while. As much as I want to insert an obvious Jersey Shore joke about tanning, I’ll restrain myself. If you’re looking for a solid wine for a solid Italian meal, this Guidette wouldn’t look much farther. GTL.