My first post for Denver off the Wagon highlighted the ‘Outstanding California Cabernet’ session at this year’s Aspen Food and Wine Classic. As part two of the F&W recap, this post will share some wines from the ‘Piedmont Beyond Barolo’ session with Antonio Galloni.
My introduction to Italian wines involved me sitting in front of a then brand new Amante on Walnut, at the ripe old age of 22, drinking bottles of Barolo like they were going out of style. At first sip, I was hooked! Barolo’s are often luxurious rust colored wines with rich tannins and common aromas of roses, tar, tobacco and spice. It’s a wine that makes you just want to dive into your glass and go for a swim. At the time, I was dating someone in the industry and was able to indulge in these wines, at cost, any time I wanted. But let’s be real – it’s uncommon to be able to drink Barolo regularly as its entry price is ~$60/bottle, and they’re really meant to be enjoyed with a fair amount of age on them. Let’s just say that neither of those love affairs were particularly practical or lasting!
Fast forward to 2012. While choosing classes for the Food and Wine Classic, ‘Piedmont Beyond Barolo’ was one I couldn’t pass up. Since my Barolo imbibing days, I’d tasted some Nebbiolo’s and other wines from Piedmont, knowing that my favorite Italian wine hailed from the region, but I was always left disappointed. They were too light, often un-oaked and SO far from what my palate wanted. I eventually moved to buying primarily Napa Cab Sauv and other blends that I knew would delight.
The F&W session brought us six wines from the Piedmont region (and as promised, they’re all under $25). All of these are entry level wines from vineyards that are producing some great Italian wines. Note that these wines were served at the very last minute so that they were ‘cool.’
2010 Elio Altare Dolcetto D’Alba, Piedmont, Italy $20
2010 Giorgio Pelissero Dolcetto D’Alba Munfrina, Piedmont, Italy $17
We started the tasting with two Dolcetto D’Alba’s. Both of these wines are aged in stainless steel and considered ‘easy drinking’ wines. Mostly bright fruits, balanced tannin and acid, will pair well with pasta or white meats.
2009 Sottimano Barbera D’Alba Pairolero, Piedmont, Italy $25
2009 Elvio Cogno Barbera d’Alba Bricco Dei Merli, Piedmont, Italy $25
Next we moved on to two lovely Barbera D’Alba’s. These were my favorite wines of the session by far. The Sottimano is aged in French Oak and has dark fruit, licorice, tar and violets on the nose. The Elvio Cogno is aged in oak, with notes of cherry, plum, rose, forest undergrowth and spices. I would enjoy these wines with rich proteins, perhaps a lovely rack of lamb.
2010 Domenico Clerico Langhe Nebbiolo Capisme, Piedmont, Italy $23
2009 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy $25
We wrapped up the tasting with two Nebbiolo’s, the grape of Barolo. The Capisme had great flavors of dried fruits, tobacco, smoke and dried flowers, though its light tannins, medium body and youth left me wanting a little more.
While Antonio was saying that the Vietti Langhe was “nearly Barolo” its youth and lack of body took center stage for me. One review I found cited this wine as being “Old tack-room like” with “an attractive nose of cherry pits with a patina of leather, dust and cobwebs” – this part-time equestrian is in a tack room three times a week, and though I can imagine where the author is going with this, I’d recommend a ‘grain of salt’ approach to this review!
Upon researching for places for Denver off the Wagon readers to buy these wines, I found that they’re incredibly rare and difficult finds (though a few are available at wine.com). I did, however, receive a note from a distributor friend mentioning that Hazel (Boulder’s newest liquor store) may be able to bring a few of these wines in for interested parties. If you’d like to try a selection of these wines, leave a comment below and I’ll see what I can get my hands on for you!
Next, keep an eye out for my 10 Great Wine Finds from the Classic, followed by notes on the recent Frasca Food and Wine guest series with Yes, Chef author, Marcus Samuelsson. Soul food with wine pairings by Bobby Stuckey, MS? Yes, please!