It is has been a little while since I last posted on this blog, but that is mainly due to the fact that I have been very busy with various different projects, and whilst I did promise you a book review and some other bits and pieces, it has been too long since our annual trip to Piemonte, and I just felt that I have to get the trip written down…
…it was too much of a joy, and contained too many gems in terms of visits to wait any longer.
One Long Road Trip.
This year, rather than flying in, we took a fairly leisurely drive down to Piemonte, and annoyingly this created a few problems. Namely that there was an enormous queue at the Tunnel de Frejus that connects France and Italy near Modane in the Savoie. As such we missed the first appointment at Az. Agr. Giacomo Conterno , but luckily our friend were there and were able to tell me all about how the 2005 Monfortino is absolutely stunning. , this didn’t dampen our appetites and our trusty mutt was happy to be in new surroundings, so we had a quick snack and moved swiftly on to our next appointment at a new name for me, Poderi Elia.
The Wrong Appointment
As it so happens, Poderi Elia wasn’t the producer where we had intended to undertake our appointment, but it wasn’t until many months later that this was discovered. This year we will most certainly visit the correct Cantine, not that the visit wasn’t enjoyable and the winery isn’t wrong, they just are not Az. Agr. Elia… more that the organisers had become confused!!
The wines at Poderi Elia are certainly are most certainly made in a modern style, which was described to us after visiting the vineyards that sit just behind the Cantine in Neive. In general, the Barbera and Nebbiolo see an average of 14 to 15 months in oak, although some botti is used in the Barbera. All other grapes only spend their days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, which maintains the freshness and acidity that these wines so often require. Poderi Elia produce roughly 40-50 thousand bottles per vintage and the wines are certainly well made and of high quality. In fact, they quite often lift themselves above their oak content.
2010 Dolcetto d’Alba; rich, plum and chocolate, with plenty of zip and a pleasant freshness, lots of fruit with poise and depth. Perhaps even a touch subdued and brooding. Some herbs, sap, extraction and power, with a nice restrained finish showing sandstone, minerals and graphite. 60+/100
2010 Barbera d’Alba; [spending 14-15 months in botti, this wine comes from 40 year old vines, and could be called a "Superiore" due to its oaking]; perfumed, lifted, elegant red and black fruits, gritty, herby and with a subtle elegant finish, dusty, linear, rich and powerful backbone of structure with a smoke and tobacco infused finish that starts to beguile with time in the glass. 63+/100
2009 Piemonte Barbera; [this is a Barbera that comes from vineyards outside of the Langhe area]; sandstone, minerals and restraint, with an almost Nebbiolo-like feel to it, herbs, grit and really easy to drink, balanced, simple, round and appealing, red plum and tobacco on the finish that is simply, but elegantly attractive showing some hidden smoke and meat complexity. 63/100
2011 3UVE; Vino Rosso; [a blend of 75% Barbera, 15% Nebbiolo & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon]; easy, round and earthy with notes of soil, roses, sandstone, grit and cassis. Slightly lactic and milky, with decent complexity. A long dark fruit finish keeps one intrigued by this well made and predominantly red fruited wine. 61/100
2010 Barbera d’Asti “Superiore”; [this spends half its life in botti and half in barrique]; elegant, fruit driven and perfumed, slightly dusty and mineral. Round, soft strawberry fruit, smoke, tobacco and ash intermingle in the fruity finish. 64/100
2008 Barbaresco; smoke, herbs, banana, tar, roses, elegant and perfumed with rich strawberry fruit and powerful tannins, raspberry, milk, lots of freshness, wax, ash and graphite, poised and mineral, very nice, very impressive but that lingering white fruit that I don’t like is there again! Vanillin. 67+?/100
2007 Barbaresco; bold, perfumed, expressive, dense and concentrated. Poised, mineral, strawberry, tar, fairly classically styled, round and mouthfilling, long with plenty of woodspice, cedar, and a haunting perfume. The tannins are very soft but this remains structured with herbs and salinity on the finish. Fabulous wine but being modern it won’t be to everyone’s taste. 75+/100
2011 Moscato d’Asti; lemon, lime, spritz, elegant and long, with hints of grass and limestone, fresh and with good concentration. 66+/100
The wines at Poderi Elia are clearly modern and their top wines show plenty of density, dark fruit, vanilla and a lactic note that speaks of barrique, which to be honest isn’t really my ideal in the wines of Piemonte, but if I am completely honest, there is plenty of good dusty, gritty substance underneath the oak in abundance. In the better wines, it is so abundant, that it clearly breaks through the walls and shows you all that is good about the region.
No one home!
Our next stop before dinner was meant to be with Luca Roagna, but Luca being Luca (according to hearsay) he had seemingly forgotten we were arriving, despite the fact that we were sure that someone was in the winery, so we made a quick dash down the road to another Barbaresco producer in the village, Az. Agr. Giuseppe Cortese. I’ll stick my neck out here and say that these are truly the sort of wines that I come to Piemonte to find, and many who know the region well call his “Rabaja” the Monfortino of Barbareco. High praise and in my opinion, fully deserved.
All the wines here see only large oak barrels (botti) that range in capacity from 15 to 26 hectolitres. They produce 50 thousand bottles on average per vintage.
2011 Langhe Chardonnay; lemon, lime, butter, fire and chili spice, banana and a really lovely fiery length, lacking in obvious fruit (a good thing), with subtle hints of nuts and bread. Very good. 64+/100
2011 Barbera d’Alba; chocolate and dark plum with freshness and elegance. Nice length, showing hints of herbs, earth, minerals, red plum and cherry. Dusty and spicy. 62-64+/100
2010 Langhe Nebbiolo; [coming from young Rabaja vines, this spends 12 months in botti]; clay, roses, rosewater, wet stones, brewed Chinese tea leaf, tar, smoke, delicate and perfumed with lots of freshness and zip, wild raspberry, herbs, and salinity. Pure, lovely, appealing and with good structure and balance. 65+/100
2007 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; rich, herbs, soil, decaying leaves, tar, roses and rosepetal, clean, fresh and with herby fruit, dried herbs, tobacco, ash, soil, hints of cocoa, smoky, Pu-Ehr tea leaves, silky, elegant, sexy, poised, precise, and with a long finish showing roses and wild strawberry. Beguiling, effortless and light on its feet. 72++/100
2006 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; herbs, structure and restraint but very big or imposing, always remaining elegant and poised, precise, tightly knit, roses, tar, less fruit driven, raspberry, cherry, more subdued but with huge amounts of depth, beautifully elegant. 70-73++/100
2003 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; decaying fruit, raisins, roses, rosebush, rich, tobacco, tea leaf, herbs, grippy tannins, slightly short but still nice. 67-69/100
2004 Barbaresco “Rabaja” Riserva; [the Riservas receive a minimum of 7 years ageing before release]; elegant, smoky, tea leaf, Pu-ehr, tar, roses, perfume, elegant, pure and lifted, meat, smoke, structure, balance and wonderful freshness, herbs, strawberry, cherry, sandstone and an endless finish that creeps up from nowhere, violets, roses and mountain flowers. 73-76+/100
2001 Barbaresco “Rabaja” Riserva; richer, smokier but still elegant with notes of herbs, riper fruit, sous bois, poised, long, balanced with nice structure, showing more roses and bramble. Lovely freshness, restrained, raisins, sunflower oil, elegant and very pure, dried fruits, iron, rust and sandstone. 76/100
The wines at Giuseppe Cortese are absolute stunners, showing elegance, restraint and a beguiling perfume. The 2003s perhaps suffer from 2003ness, but are still lovely wines. All in all, one has to be dissappointed that Roagna was not an option, but if we had gone there, we would have missed what was arguably one of my favourite visits of the whole three day trip.
Food, Wine and Bed.
As, unlike other trips where there were 16 of us, there were only 4 of us(and over three days instead of four), we were able to stay in a small Agriturismo where they also own vines and produce their own wines called Il Bricco , and it was a great place to be, overlooking the vines in Treiso. We had a home-cooked meal of traditional foods from the region, and by golly gosh the meal was tasty. Add to that some lovely wines, and we were happy as larry!
Before dinner, we sat on the Balcony of one of the rooms looking out at the setting sun with the following wine in Magnum: 2001 Barbaresco; Poderi Elia; rich, woody and powerful, round, black fruits, smoke, rosebush, strawberry, raisins, decaying roses, a bit of smoke and funk, simple but loveable , and good quality for the money 63+/100 (somehow looking back at my notes, whilst this was a lovely wine, one has to hope that the shutting down fruit, outlives the wood that has been used on it.)
With dinner we drank the following:
2011 “Flores” Langhe Favorita, Az. Agr. Il Bricco; lemon, lime, herbs and a fruit pastel, sherbet nose, grass, herbs, marble, minerals and a lovely fruity length. Mineral, crisp but also rounded and easy to drink already. 64-66+/100
2010 “San Luigi” Dolcetto di Dogliani d’Alba; Marziano Abbona; smoky, perfumed, chocolate, dark plum, some herbs, lots of concentration, tarmac, earthy, structured and impressive, plum, cherry, dusted chocolate, cocoa and some minerals. Rich, powerful and imposing. 65++/100
2008 Barbera d’Alba “TreVigne”; Domenico Clerico; rich, powerful, woodspice, tobacco leaf, vanilla, herbs and nice length, cocoa and coffee, dark cherry, chocolate coated strawberry, silky and smooth, unashamedly modern but it knows what it is and what it is doing, so you have to decide whether you like the style or not. Smoke, earth, and loveable. 61-63/100
2010 Langhe Nebbiolo “Ca Real”, Il Bricco; smooth, perfumed, roses, herbs, rosebush and strawberry, fresh and minty, cherry, red and black plum, nice depth and hints of cocoa, deep, brooding, almost verging on closed and unforgiving. Simple, and in need of time. 58-64+?/100
2006 Barbaresco “Marcarini”; Az. Agr. Ca del Baio; roses, strawberry, tar, minerals, earth, raspberry, plum, fruit driven, but with a dusty, ashy, herby note, gritty tannins and a touch of depth, perhaps a little top heavy and it feels like it is slowly shutting down in the glass! Based on what has come and gone, I’d give this the benefit of the doubt in terms of whether it will come round. 59-62+/100
2011 Moscato d’Asti “Siva”; Il Bricco; lemons, limes, balanced and elegant, a touch sweet but still well made and pleasant enough. 59+/100
And so to Bed after another long day in the foothills of the Alps. The second day of our shorter than normal trip, would be a long one with plenty of excellent wines from both the famous and the unheard of…
Until Next Time