Above: the food at Alfonso’s wine dinner at Dolce Vita in Houston was excellent. But the dish I couldn’t stop thinking about was the flatbread topped with perfectly sliced mortadella.
One of the highlights of my birthday week was my first kiss with Produttori del Barbaresco 2010 Barbaresco (classic).
(Please note that I would never call this wine “normale” as many erroneously do. It’s not “normal.” It’s exceptional. That’s why I always use “classic” when referring to the Produttori del Barbaresco bottlings that are not designated by cru.)
The occasion was a wine dinner led by Italian wine maven and good friend Alfonso Cevola at Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca in Houston.
The food and service were superb (the halibut crudo was a stand-out, as were the spaghetti with Roman broccoli).
But my “first date” with one of my all-time favorite wineries still trumps the rest in my memory.
Produttori del Barbaresco sales director “Aldo Vacca told me that the winery didn’t bottle its crus [single-vineyard-designated wines],” said Alfonso to the small group of wine lovers who shared the meal in the restaurant’s swank private dining room.
“Instead,” he explained, “they used all of their top fruit to make their blended Barbaresco.”
The last time Produttori del Barbaresco opted not to release its crus was in 2006. At the time of its release (2010), Aldo revealed to me that the decision was driven, in part, by concerns about the financial crisis. (See my post here.)
Above: it’s always a thrill for me to taste these wines for the first time. It’s like falling in love all over again.
I imagine that the winery’s decision to create a single cuvée for 2010 was guided partly by potential commercial issues. I say this because by nearly all accounts, 2010 was a good to great vintage in Langa where the wines are grown and made.
As in 2006, there were late September rains that disappointed the expectations of many growers and there were issues with mildew and vine disease (in particular, pesky and sometimes deadly grapevine yellows).
But Nebbiolo was the least affected by these and top growing sites were mostly immune.
To my palate, the 2010 Barbaresco was fantastic. It had all the hallmarks of the great wines from this cooperative winery (which I collect religiously): acidity, clarity of fruit, minerality, and distinctive Langa traits (mushroom, earth, and rose petal). Not quite as great as the 2008 but a wine that will be well represented in my cellar.
We may never now why the consortium of growers at Produttori del Barbaresco decided to bottle only a cuvée for the 2010 vintage. But in my view, it’s a blessing.
As much as I love (and collect) the single-vineyard bottlings (Asili, Rabajà, and Montestefano are my favorites), the cuvée is nearly always the wine I find the most compelling. Where the cru enjoy privilege of site and can often excel anomalously thanks to its isolation in a challenging vintage, the cuvée is an expression of the appellation as a whole.
I loved the 2010 and am entirely geeked that I will be able to afford to “put down” more than one case in my cellar.
Above: Nathan Smith is not only the wine director at Dolce Vita. He’s also a musoid.
Thinking about that excellent dinner at Dolce Vita, I have to give a shout out to my buddy Nathan, who’s become one of my good friends since Tracie P, the girls, and I moved to Houston in February of this year.
He’s an Italophile wine lover like me. But he’s also a musoid, a musician’s musican. I finally convinced him to bring his axe over to my house and play on one of my songs.
He took the track to an entirely new level and we had a blast recording together. He’s super cool and he’s one of the top wine pros in our town.