Soltanto vini…

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La Morra

Greetings and good cheer from Asti, where the sun is bright, the geckos scurry around in the morning warmth, and the vino flows like water. Or maybe the water flows like wine… either way, ciao! I’d like to report on some of the many wines I’ve been trying here, so get your palate primed, take at your best glasses, and let’s drink.

We could sit here and wax poetic on the qualities of this wine, the complexities of that wine, and make all sorts of stretched-out, goofy wine faces about them. But I’ll try and keep things to the point in terms of categories, favorites, and availability. I’ve made sure to ask all the wineries and enotecas visited about distribution in the states.

At least I think I have.

A couple of days ago, I wandered into the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco with the intention of just asking for directions to a couple wineries nearby. Somehow, six different samples of Barbaresco wound up in my hand, nose, mouth, and brain. All before noon. In the 89 degree heat.  Probably not going to have too detailed of a report on those.

What I can tell you is that they were all very good and nothing was wasted.


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The underground cellars of Luigi Coppo in Canelli


Sparkling:

Being here in Asti, one needs to embrace the Moscato. Get over any hang-ups you might have about sweeter wines, and get Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante out of your head. We’re tasting Moscato d’Asti, a wine that’s less sparkling, more aromatic (sorry Chris), and has better acidity than its more popular counterpart in Asti. Made from the white muscat of Canelli grape, or just Muscato Canelli, these wines are mouth-watering and surprisingly complex in both bouquet and flavor.


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The best one I came across was one probably not available to most of you guys out there, but don’t quote me on this; I may have misunderstood Stefano, but I think there isn’t going to be a big distribution of Clarte, from Elio Perrone, in the states. That’s too bad, ’cause this was pretty special. Flavors of anise, mint, peach jumped all over the place and the trademark acidity of good Moscato cleaned things up nicely on the finish. The good news is his other Moscato d’Asti, Sourgal, is also fantastic, and one I used to love selling back in Portland. Now is the time to sit on the deck with this baby and a bowl of fresh fruit.



White:

I’ve been really surprised by how many producers here either make very little white wine or none at all. But then again, the real demand from this part of the world is for the Barbera, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo wines. Still, the regional Arneis, Gavi (Cortese grape), and Favorito (related to the Vermentino grape) wines can all be very nice. Thank you to Kim and Julie (Or was it Julia? Read Barbarescos before noon…) for sharing the bottle of Favorito with me at lunch. Good to meet you guys, thanks for saving all the fish, and enjoy the rest of your time in Italy.

What I’ve really enjoyed here, however, is a French grape– Chardonnay. The combination of elevation, soil types, cooler and windy evenings, and maybe most importantly, the winemakers style, all add up to some really elegant examples of this grape. Think Burgundy. Maybe not intense and ultra-complex like some of the great wines from Mersault or Montrachet. But flinty, mineral-driven Chardonnays are being made here that remind me of some Macons or even Chablis. I tasted two from Barolo today, and they were both outstanding if you like very little wood and butter in your Chardonnay.

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Not that you’ll see these in the states (but hey, you never know…), but they were produced by Barale Fratelli and Viberti Giovanni. The latter was especially beautiful, well-balanced with a zippy finish, and is winemaker Gian Luca’s “experiment” and homage to the white wines of Burgundy. While not as elegant as the two from Barolo, I still enjoyed Coppo’s Costebianche 2007 Chardonnay. Refreshing, bright green apple on the palate and an easy summer quaffer with a big Pranzo.

Barbera d’Asti/Barbera d’Alba:

Since they can be very different, I thought I’d divide this category into Alba and Asti. Unfortunately, I really haven’t been wowed (at least not as much) by any of the Alba Barbera’s thus far, so I’m recommending a couple of guys from Asti.

Barbera’s one of those do-all wines, much like a pinot noir, where it can be matched up with all sorts of foods and is pretty damn good on its own too. Like Moscato, these grapes are all about good levels of acidity, which translates into great food wines, full of bright red fruit and spice.


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Is it just me, or is that angel… nevermind.

Try and land a bottle of the Coppo’s 2006 Camp’ du Rouss Barbera d’Asti or the Tas Mor Can from E. Perrone. Both of these wines are fresh and delicious, without heavy amounts of wood to interfere with the bright cherry and raspberry flavors. How much you ask? I think they were both around 8-10 Euros– that’s a bargain even in dollars.

A good start, I think. Savor those choices for now, and we’ll head into Barbaresco and Barolo territory next time we sip. You should be able to find both Coppo and Elio Perrone pretty easily in the states– let me know if you want distributor names, and I’ll e-mail them to you, or do my best to find out who they are.

Buona notte!

Jared


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~ by Jared on June 16, 2009.

4 Responses to “Soltanto vini…”

  1. You are drinking right up my alley. Be a pal and pass along some of those names. Sparkling”chick wines” excluded of course. Here’s to your fine swollen liver.

    • OK, big daddy…

      Ask your local wine pimp (there will NEVER be another pimp like me, though) to get you some of the Coppo Barbera (either Camp de Rouss or the bigger Pommorosso) from either Galaxy or Columbia, and the Barbera from Elio Perrone from Casa Bruno.

      Cheers,
      Jared

  2. Alright, OK, now Greg will “really” be ready to jump on a plane and raise a glass with you!!!! Ciao.

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