In the past month and a half, I’ve bounced back and forth between Philadelphia and California, Arizona, Texas, and Israel. Aside from the permanent crick in my lower back and my ever-growing disdain for airport food all over the world, the other result of this is a serious back-log of tasting notes and stories that have to be posted here. Coming off an extended absence, then, I thought I’d start chipping away at it with three stand-out Piedmontese reds from the excellent Dalla Terra Winery Direct. What better way, after all, to get back into the swing of things than with some great Nebbiolo?
All three of these are from excellent years: 2007 was particularly good for both Barolo and Barbaresco, and 2006, especially in Barolo, was also a standout. My notes are below.
Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga 2007
Perfumed nose, with licorice and flowers peeking through aromas that are still a bit reticent. With air, however, the concentration of this wine comes through, with red fruits and more licorice, as well as hints of sage and thyme. That concentration, as well as some real power, pulse behind the sappy red raspberry and cherry fruit, all of it backed by a rose character that ultimately follows through beautifully to the exotically spiced, sandalwood-flecked finish. Fine-grained tannins and the spine of acidity either ask for decanting now or holding the bottle for another 5 - 6 years (and then, after that, it will continue to drink beautifully for another 10 - 15).
Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2007
Still holding back on the nose, but with subtle autumnal aromas of fallen leaves, iron, a hint of flowers, and fresh red fruit in the cherry and raspberry vein. This silky wine, however, is built for the long-haul, the tannins clamping down on flavors of fresh mushrooms (morels, truffles) and tar, both joined by rose petals on the finish and a distinct, wholly unexpected note of kumquat. Energetic, powerful, and very appealing. Hold for 6 - 8 years, and then drink through 2028. Excellent.
Boroli Barolo 2006
Mature in appearance, with amber and orange at the edges and brick at the center. If you’ve ever been to Piedmont, this is likely to elicit some sort of Proustian flowering of memory: Aromatically, this is a dead-ringer for the air there, or at least the tasting rooms. Spicy cherries are present, but it’s really defined by its leather, dried roses, cranberries, creamed fennel and fennel seeds, and, perhaps above all else, a distinct note of white truffle. On the palate, the tannins are still present, though I’d say this is a wine at its peak between now and 2016 or 2017. It would be tough to not fall in love with its charms immediately, however: Lively flavors of cranberries, flowers, roses, more truffles, dried porcini, a touch of birch bark, leather, cigars, spice, licorice, and tar sing through with clarity and energy. What a treat to drink.