When you think about Ribera del Duero, white wine may not be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, they are not even authorized in the D.O.’s regulations. It’s a region for robust reds produced mainly from tinta fino (tempranillo) and for some more than respectable rosés, wines to chill for an aperitif before the main course of sausages or meats for which this region of Castilla y León is famed.
But in terms of whites, there is nothing. Or, at least, not much. Ever heard of Albillo? It’s the only white variety permitted in the D.O., one that mostly took a backseat in the history of Ribera wine. As Alfredo Maestro explained, growers traditionally planted albillo to blend with tinto fino. “Albillo ripens before tinto fino,” he . . . Continue reading →
The last day of Nebbiolo Prima was devoted to riserva wines from Roero, Barolo and Barbaresco, and offered some of the most interesting comparison tastings of the week. Not only were all three appellations pitched side by side, but there were also three different vintages.
2009 Roero Riserva
While the regular Roero requires 20 months of aging with at least six of those months in wood, Roero Riserva must age for at least 32 months (with many producers choosing to go beyond the minimum of six months in wood). According to Angelo Negro of Negro Angelo & Figli winery in Monteu Roero, 30-40% of the production of Roero DOCG is riserva, which means that a high percentage of the best grapes in any given year get used for the riserva. Perhaps this explains why the 2009 Roero Riservas were, . . . Continue reading →
A month ago, I had sampled twenty 2009s from Castiglione Falletto at a pre-release tasting held at the Cantina Comunale. Based on that, 2009 seemed a big, ripe, round vintage. Despite being just released (or just about to be), many of them were already approachable, suggesting a vintage more suitable for early (five to eight years) drinking than for extended aging.
I was not really surprised: 2009 was an odd year. It began with an extremely cold and snowy winter that lingered into a cool spring with higher than usual rainfall. Bud-break was late and flowering was disrupted by persistent rain resulting in uneven ripening of grapes. Summer arrived suddenly in early May with intense heat that continued through August and with periodic interruptions of rain. Temperatures began to drop in September but still remained higher than usual with . . . Continue reading →
Each day after the journalists have tasted blind, the wines are put out and producers are welcome to come and taste.
Barbaresco 2010 was next on the line-up, more than 80 of them spread over two days, from the three municipalities that make up the zone: Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso. Regardless of their numerous stylistic differences, the wines fell into two basic groups: Some were dark, red-black, inky and opaque, with pronounced alcohol, an earthy aroma of dull, over-ripe fruit, and harsh tannins. The others were brick red with orange highlights and a nice shiny transparency, a subtle inviting aroma, and a mouthful of ripe cherry, strawberry and/or cranberry fruit framed by firm, supple, pleasantly astringent tannins. Wines that fell into the first group seemed heavy and prematurely old, those in the second young and promising.
Same grape variety, same appellation, same year but two totally different styles; I was a bit perplexed so asked a . . . Continue reading →
In the Trenches of Barbaresco and Roero
The first day of Nebbiolo Prima: 20 Roeros and 57 Barbarescos, all from the 2010 vintage. So much for a soft opening.
The games begin in Roero, the black sheep of the three great nebbiolo appellations. While both Barbaresco and Barolo are in the Langhe, the Roero is on the other side of the Tanaro River. Both Barbaresco and Barolo must be made from 100% nebbiolo; Roero can have up to 5% of other grape varieties added to it. And while the Barolo and Barbaresco areas were formed in the late Miocene Epoch (about 16-11 million years ago), the Roero is the newer kid on the geologic block, dating back five million years (more or less) to the Pliocene. The Roero hills are lower and more spread out but pointier—cone-heads compared . . . Continue reading →