TNs: Nebbiolos at Zucca with the EWG

On Thursday Feb. 4 the EWG got together at the behest of Gregg G. and we had an Northern Italian Nebbiolo themed dinner at Zucca in downtown L.A. as part of the “dine l.a.” week. Excellent meal for a super price, and of course really great Barolos, a couple Barbarescos, and some other interesting bottles. Gotta love being in the fishbowl room too! Thanks to all for sharing such a good selection of wines.

The Whites:
2007 Balgera, Terraze Retiche di Sondrio IGT, Chiavennasca Frizzante
70% Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca); 30% Pignolo and Rossolo Valtellinese in Valtellina, Northern Lombardia. Never had a white Nebbiolo, or Nebbiolo frizzante for that matter! Very clever twist on the theme, and wins the “farthest north” prize. This was very pale, light, and somewhat non-descript, but I liked the touch of nutty-hay flavors, and an ever so slight caramelized sugar note. Good simple summer appetizer sipper. 87
NV Tanore, Prosseco di Valdobiadene, Extra Dry
Bright, clean, white fruit and light floral notes with delicate candied tropical fruit notes. A perfect extra-dry with just a smidgeon of sweetness on the palate. Nice Prosseco with good character. 88
2008 Marc Olivier, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Clos des Briords
Low aromatics on this, but really tight and acidic with pure lemon juice sucking in my checks in the back end. Good mineral aspect and slight yeast element in this. Maybe this will soften up in a year or two, although I don’t think it will last much beyond that. I have recently had some 8-9 year old Muscadets that have held up quite well but they were more extracted and probably saw more time on the lees. Great seafood wine, but seemed a bit out of place amongst the Italian whites (either that or we just needed some seafood!). 88
2007 Vigneti Massa, Colli Tortonesi DOC, “Derthona” Timorasso
I could smell this wine a mile away. Really strong nose with nutty, vinous character but with nice fruit and a touch of honey, and even floral notes. Very complex. It had a silky, viscous texture and packed in the flavors as well, with lots of extract and a really long finish. This was not a shy wine at all, but really good and very interesting and had a lot of class. I loved this, although it seemed a bit hot (I didn’t note the alcohol level). 100% Timorasso grape. Colli Tortonesi is just north of Gavi in Piemonte, where Cortese is the main grape. 90+

The Reds 1st flight:
1989 Domenico Clerico, Barolo, Ciabot Mentin Ginestra (Monforte d’Alba)
Dusty nose at first with dried fruit, prune notes; super silky, delicate and graceful entry into the mouth, yet sleek and powerful. Expands on the palate; Nice underlying core of black fruit with some pot pouri. This had extremely fine tannins, still good structure, and a very long finish. Quite amazing stuff and seemed to be at its pinnacle, although probably has many years ahead of it (I’m just saying that to appease David). 94
1996 Giovanni Manzone Barolo, Santo Stefano (Perno)
Polar opposites from the Clerico. Licorice, cardomon, clove, blackberry fruit, very forward with a rich body, with big, but somewhat supple tannins. This is the definition of “chewy”. Although not as elegant, it still had lots of class, had a lot going on, and was still very young. I’d place the style somewhere between traditional and New World. I’d love to try this in 5-8 years, and maybe on it’s own (i.e. not after a 21 year old Clerico Ginestra). 92
1997 Terre del Barolo Riserva
This was the lightest red color of the night from what I could tell, with lots of fading. If the above was modern, this was traditional. Restrained dusty earthy nose, not too vibrant in the mouth, with mostly resolved but very sticky grabbing tannins. But it did open up a bit and interestingly showed some berry candy fruit. Fairly structured, but not flashy at all. I re-checked my notes and can’t believe this was only $16.65 in 2004 from the co-op. 91

2nd Flight:
1999 Aurelio Settimo Barolo, Rocche (La Morra)
I loved the metallic-mineral and plumy aspect of this. Silky, very well balanced, everything worked for me in this wine. Nice long finish. Excellent stuff and a great ’99 to save. 93
1999 E. Pira, Barolo, Via Nuova (Barolo)
Similar to the Settimo, but a bit harder in the mouth. Classic licorice and prune notes, but just slightly lacks the gracefulness of the Settimo. The Boschis family bought the estate after the last male component of the Pira family line died. Ms. Chiara Boschis has run the estate since 1990. 91
1999 Mauro Sebaste, Barolo, Prapo (Serra Lunga d’Alba)
This wine was more expressive with a hint of rose and with darker fruit. Great nose. I found it slightly tart, but at the same time with a rich, round mouthfeel. Good structure, but slightly fatter than above. Full of dichotomies I guess, but I was intrigued. 92

3rd flight:
1996 Malvira’, Roero Superiore, DOCG
I believe this was the “Trinita Riserva” not the Superiore, but someone let me know. Roero got its DOCG in 2006. Just North of Barolo on the other side of the Tanaro River. 100% Nebbiolo. I got fumey, gassy notes on this at first. But it seemed to blow off to reveal a somewhat simple, in your face, fruity and structured Nebbiolo. I wrote “sticky tannins, seemed very young still (for a 1996 Roero?), and not as together as the others”. For all that I still gave it 90 points.
1998 Paitin, Barbaresco, Sori’ Paitin
Immediate hints of rubber in the nose with some obvious V.A., but it blew off (or I got used to it) and had intense blackberry fruit, and huge but supple sticky tannins. Not what I would expect from an older Barbaresco. 89-90
2003 Traviglini Gattinara, DOCG
Nice juicy mouth, with raspberry and blackberry fruitiness and a touch of spice. This was somewhat lighter, with medium tannins, and slightly tart. Seemed young and bright, but nicely balanced. Delicious, good bottle! 89-90
2005 Olek Bondonio, Barbaresco, La Berchialla
Olek is an Italian snowboard champion and set up a winery at his family estate, La Berchialla. This is his first release. Good ripe berry fruit aspect with some green stem-branch nuances in there. This was stylish, with a nice silky mouth and young, drying tannins. Good first effort and could be ever nicer in a few more years. 90

Great night. I really enjoyed most of the wines. The Sori’ Paitin seemed off which was a disappointment to me as I was looking forward to trying it.

Thanks to 3G for hooking this up.

  • 2007 Vigneti Massa Timorasso Colli Tortonesi Derthona - Italy, Piedmont, Colli Tortonesi
    I really enjoyed this. Very explosive and unique. A rich and think wine but the acidity held it together. I also enjoyed that it played like a totally different wine with the bolognese. (91 pts.)

  • 1989 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Wow! Thanks to David Lewin for bringing this. I think this is the best dry wine I have had in 2010 and drinking in a perfect place right now. Tannins are almost transparent but not absent. The acidity remained in balance from the start to finish and it seemed to keep all the flavors awake. Wow again. (95 pts.)
  • 1996 Giovanni Manzone Barolo Santo Stefano - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    It might be partly due to the wines tasted next to it but this did not do so much for me. Just didn’t show much finesse. More in your face with earthy, possibly oak elements. Solid tannins but I couldn’t get a fell as to where this wine is going.
  • 1997 Terre del Barolo Barolo Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A very nice surprise. Still very fresh. I didn’t find this very complex but it didn’t really matter because it tasted so good. At that price I would have loved to have got cases of this stuff.

The 99 Flight
I enjoyed this flight although it was a bit overshadowed by the older wines. I did think the wines were similar. I have included the note on my wine which I payed most attention to.

  • 1999 Mauro Sebaste Barolo Prapò - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    I meant to hold on to this but when the flight of 99s showed up I thought I should pop it. The wine didn’t disappoint but still needs some more time. It had not rounded the corner that the 89 and 97 had turned but it has all the right stuff to do it. This showed a lot of complexity imo. (91 pts.)

After the flight of 99s I continued to enjoy the wines but didn’t really keep track of what was what.


Posted from CellarTracker

That Balgera Frizzante is the very same as described here by RPjr:

“Balgera Chiavenna Frizzante…Valtellina’s answer to Moscato d’Alba? …pretty apalling stuff…like bad bubble gum and artificial fruit flavors…at least it had low alcohol and is served cold…but a bad joke when compared to a good moscato d’Alba…”

Aside from there being no such THING as “Mostcato d’Alba”, did any of you guys find it sweet at all?

Yes, I found it to be a sweet flabby mess; not even the co2 could lift it.
However there is a Chiavennasca I tasted a couple of years ago in Italy (forgot the producer or vintage) which was a very good high acid still white made with Nebbiolo.

I didn’t perceive this as “sweet”. Certainly a fruity character and maybe even a candied quality at some points but not something I would consider sweet at all. Although I can’t say I spent a lot of time with the wine, I didn’t find it appalling in any way but not something I would be buying.


Hmmmm…VERY popular aperitivo here. Especially with Brits & Italians…

small world, I work in the building zucca Is located in

Those Brits and Italians must have been living in LA too long…
Seriously, sometimes I’m amazed at the praise some clearly off dry wines get here. Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc comes to mind.
Not that there is anything wrong with that…

That wine has some fruit but NO residual sugar. I’ve seen the lab sheets. Most people say it is “nutty” more than fruity.

BTW, Roberto do you know how much alcohol is in it? Seemed like it had normal alcohol levels to me. This has nothing to do with Moscato d’Asti. A ridiculous comparison…

10.5% ABV (the grapes are picked VERY early for crispness.