This week in Barolo/Barbaresco ( lots of photos )

On the flight over ( 12 hours from Hong Kong ) I had a few glasses of Luce IGT 2008 which induced a long sleep, enabling us to hit the ground and run on arrival. Great blend, sure it’s ripe and showy, but it works well at altitude, with the fruit sweetness preventing a drying out on the finish.

The trip from Malpensa Airport to Barbaresco is under two hours and on arrival were greeted with postcard-perfect weather with views to the Alps. Despite having spent a month in Piedmont over the years, I had never seen the visibility this clear.

We stayed in a great little place in Neive, lunching in the old town, where there’s a new enoteca and guest room (pictured below), that last year was not so developed and good only for a coffee or quick glass of wine.

A glass of Dante Rivetti " Bric Micca " 2007 hit the spot. In a good window, simple and expressive of the region, dancy red fruits on a bed of darker licorice like fruit. Good line and length and sits well over lunch with its soft finish. Comfortably an early 90 pt wine.

After check in and fighting the jet lag, drove from Nieve to Barbaresco for a coffee but could not resist Cantina Boffa, which has magnificent views over the wine rich valleys and hills and the stunning Alps in the distance. The Tanaro River delivered on a warmish day, providing a gentle maritime like afternoon breeze. Two glasses of Boffa Paje Barbaresco 2007 & 2008 for comparison. The 07 was bright with red cherries and an earthinees, very defined, linear like structure, finishes with a lump of tannin and a pleasant persistence. The 08 was fuller with riper and darker notes, very long and well structured for a long future with a fascinating prospect for the generous and powerful fruit. I tried their 08 Ovello Barberesco too, which showed the power and a classical but pronounced ripeness of the 08 vintage versus the 07.

The dining area below at Casa Boffa and their accommodation looks great. I prefer Nieve to Barbaresco personally, but will stay here next year. Very warm hosts.

Monviso? With the Tower at Barbaresco off to the right.

View from our suite which had two balconies.

Light dinner in Neive, and the Produttori del Barberesco Ovello Riserva 2007 is in fine shape, great guns now and of course, will improve/hold for a long time. Red fruits and shades of black, an iron mineral spine in an elegant frame.

92pts +

Day Two, awoke early and the walk from Nieve to Barbersco, through Slizza and Ovello, is a great way to start the day. Stunning weather and the air was full of late spring fragrances.

Tasting at Bruno Rocca-

The Duck Feather label is something to do with the monks and telling their story through time. Bruno Rocca likes to tell the story of Barberesco through his wine.

His wines have great fruit purity and the oak, despite being pronounced, works well even in youth. The 2010 Dolcetto was very good and I wish the simplicity and enjoyment of Dolcetto made its way to Asia at a more reasonable price. If this was the case, I feel it would take off in Asia. Oddly, it gets inflated and rides the coat tails of the King and Queen of Piedmonte.

The 2010 Barbera was inviting with its dark fruit ripeness and a refreshing mintiness. Light grip on the finish. Great!

Langhe Rosso “Fralu” 2010 is 100% nebbiolo and is a good, modern expression of the grape. The balance is excellent as is the oak.

Langhe Rosso “Rabajolo” DOC 2010 is a Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Barbera blend which shows some warm cabernet notes, with some interesting herbal influences prior a more complete darker fruit spectrum taking over. Polished mouthfeel, long wine, fine and crafted finish.

2008 Barbaresco is from the Nieve area. Very modern expression, with oak integrating well early, perfumed and deep scents, full and youthful austerity in the mouth, a warm and long rise of fine tannins. One for the long haul.

2008 Barbaresco “Copparossa” is a blend of vineyards from Nieve and Treiso. Not as showy as the 08 generic, however, the red and black fruits show immediate complexity, white pepper and mint overtones add interest. Again, the wine is ripe and modern on the palate, violet edged dark fruits prior a very long rise of fine tannins building the finish.

I would have liked to buy a lot of their wines, but due luggage restrictions, took a magnum of 08 Maria Adelaide. A blend of the best grapes in the best vintages, made in tribute to Bruno’s mother who lived until 98- and drank two glasses of Barbaresco everyday!

The magnum was about the same price as a regular bottle if bought in the shops of Alba. Buy direct!!!

Moving on to Alba for two nights. Our strategy is to stay within walking distance of dinner. Piazza Duomo tonight. Exceptional dining, the freshest of local cuisine, some from their own gardens, with a chef’s twist.

A pictures tells a thousand words-

Wines. We started with a glass of Pomodolce Grue Timorasso 2010- An ancient grape making a revival and helped along by this organic producer. I liked the wine, it was interesting on the nose with a blend of white florals, peach-pinapple and minerality. Buttery texture in a rich fruit context, breaks off suddenly on the mid-palate and finishes with awkward mineral infused acidity.

Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Riserva Barolo 2002- Regal and commanding, yet there lurks great mystery with elegance offsetting the underlying power of the fruit. The wine is never out positioned by the degustation, it merely adapts and changes, and snares a glimpse at another angle to wine, as well as offering a snapshot to different development periods in the wine’s long future.

The sommelier did not decant the wine as he believed it would come up in the glass. I don’t think this was the right call.

97pts+

“L’ albese” was the best I have ever had by a margin.


The flavors here were out of this world-including the vegetables





The Local Degustation Option-

Tradizione e Innovazione

Trusot salad

“Tinca in carpione”

Fresh cod, buckwheat cream

“L’ albese”

Tonnato…non tonnato Financière sauce essence

Sweet agnolotti

Veal cheek…seasonal vegetables Hazelnut wafer

Day Four we moved to the village of La Morra and stayed at Timeless which was pleasant dspite mixed reports off tripadvisor.

I called Maria Theresa from Bartolo Mascarello and asked if I could come down and buy only. I have toured before and I just needed to replace a case of 07 Barolos which I lost to heat damage in shipping. I had a glass of 07 and 08 Barolo whilst there, and the 07 was riper and rounder, very good but not as classical as the 08.

Dinner was at Bovio, and old favorite, which has a superb wine list and panoramic views.

This Arneis was superb! The best of have had and it comes in below Bruno Giacosa’s. It was highly recommended by the ladies at Bruno Rocca cellar door. It was striking in its fruit purity, delightfully refreshing in the mouth and finishing long and clean. Impeccable balance.

92pts

Elio Grasso “Runcot” Barolo 2004- I felt like a big but smooth and approachable Barolo. I had this at cellar door two years ago and I found the folks at Elio Grasso warm and hospitable. Inviting nose, massive morello cherries, vanilla and menthol lifts a Borneo Spice like overtone. Dense and smooth, it shows well already but will be better in the future. Finishes long, with the French Oak building the structure throughout- though it is never out of place.

93pts+

Bovio had a bad night. It was sad that the service fell short and was rushed. We contacted them four times to make our booking a few weeks ago; the whole place seemed disorganized. Food was average tonight and seemed overcooked.

Fourth visit and all prior were fantastic.

Jamie,
Good to see you’re drinking well - and taking great photos - magical place,the Piedmont vineyards.
Nigel

Thanks for your report and pictures. I was thinking of this area last night when I uncorked a Ceretto Dolcetto D’ Alba Rossana which was wonderful. I feel like I vicariously enjoyed your trip.

Brings back memories of our stay in the town of Vergne just outside of Barolo. Just beautiful. Thank you for posting.

Nice stuff. Just got back from the region. Walked by Timeless and thought it looked like a nice in town option (of which there are not a lot in La Morra). We ended up slightly out of town and that was actually very nice with very easy parking as well. While I was far from 100% health-wise when we went to Bovio it was not a great meal by any measure. Service was good but the food was below average. Incredible wine list for sure.

Even if they made no wine there it would still be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. [basic-smile.gif]

Great post; I love the pictures. Piedmont is very high on my list of places to visit. I found your comments about '07 versus '08 interesting. I haven’t tried any '08 Nebbiolo yet, but I have found '07 to be a vintage which I would consider very ripe on the whole, with many wines displaying more fruit and less acid than I am used to. You’re saying I can expect even greater ripeness from '08? I thought I had read otherwise at some point, but now I think I might not be remembering correctly.

Great report, Jamie. Thanks for all the pictures. They certainly show off the clarity of the air those days. Rare not to get some mist or cloud cover most days there.

I found more structure in the '08s, especially in Barbaresco. Certainly the '08 Ratti Marcenasco Barolo was far more appealing to me than the very ripe and nearly unctuous '07. The '07 Produttori Normale Barbaresco is delicious and sumptuous in a very good way. I have not had the '07 Ovello yet but I generally found Produttori’s '07 crus to be rich and tannic. The '08 Rabaja was very, very powerful and obviously more masculine and firm tasted against its '07 counterpart.

Thanks for the input. I have certainly enjoyed some '07s, including Produttori Normale and whichever Elio Grasso Barolos I tried (don’t remember), but my overall take has been that it’s a generally very ripe vintage. I would welcome any other opinions of '08, specific wines or the vintage in general.

Re the duck feather labels: about 15 VinItalys ago, we were dining down in the cellar at the late lamented Il Cantinon and Bruno was at a nearby table having too much fun. Somehow he hit our table and knocked over a partially full bottle of wine. He apologized profusely then took his wristwatch off his arm and gave it to me as a token of his sentiment. It had those duck feathers for the hands and his cantina’s name on the face. I still have it…

Hi Doug,

The 08 Barbarescos I tried and in chats with locals, are showing up as very good wines built for the long haul. The 07’s, I wouldn’t call them fruit forward, but they have a softness and drinkability that shows the structure off nicely now. I wouldn’t call the 08’s as more ripened than the 07’s, they are more powerful and muscular and obviously so, when lined up against the 07’s I drank.

Bovio has been great on three previous occasions and is acknowledged by a number of local winemakers I have talked to as being a great place to get traditional local food.

I thought it might be a bad night, but perhaps not if your food was below par too. Oh well, what a shame. And that said, Piazza Duomo’s Monfortino was 40 euros a bottle cheaper than Bovio and four glasses of white were gratuitous. The food was incomparable and I’d suggest Piazza Duomo at least a one off must for visitors to Alba.

No kidding. I have to get there some day.

Thanks for the great notes and pics. I remember the first day I saw Piedmont without fog, and had the realization Pie…Monte. Stunning place. Loved our meal at Piazza Duomo. Innovative, pure and flavorful. Hoping to get a table there when we return in September. Thanks for the vicarious ride.

Cheers

Jamie,

Loved the photos and your text. Made me instantly hungry, thirsty and jealous. Pity about Bovio. We had an unforgettable truffle degustation lunch there a number of years ago. By the way the picture was misleading - I am sure those two glasses were quickly emptied.

Anthony.

This was a great job of documenting your trip and with all the pics, it really transported me while reading it. It really is too bad you can’t bring a ton of bottle home with you. Thanks for sharing.