Umami blogging (and Nebbiolo gone wild)

Above: I poured an awesome flight of Nebbiolo on Tuesday night at The Austin Wine Merchant for my class “The De Facto Cru System in Piedmont.”

They say that parenting blogs, so-called “mommy blogging,” are the most lucrative: evidently, folks who write about parenting have no troubles finding advertisers. Among wine bloggers, however, the term “mommy blogging” denotes a sub-genre of posts in which bloggers “write home to mom,” telling her all the great bottles that they have opened. Italian Wine Guy often accuses me of this and I must confess that my mom does read my blog (hi mom!).

Since I am about to indulge in some flagrant, unapologetic mommy blogging, I’d like to propose a new sub-genre of enoblogging for your consideration: “Umami Blogging.”

Umami is one of the “the five generally recognized basic tastes sensed by specialized receptor cells present on the human tongue” and in wine writing, we often use it to denote a class of “savory” descriptors.

Umami, meaty, brothy, savory flavors were on everyone’s palates Tuesday night when I poured 7 bottlings of Nebbiolo from Langa at my weekly Italian wine seminar at The Austin Wine Merchant. Man, what a flight of wines! The de facto cru system of Piedmont was the topic and participants tasted bottlings from the east and west sides of the Barolo-Alba road as well as a Barbaresco and a Langhe Nebbiolo sourced in Barbaresco, where many believe the proximity of the Tanaro river adds another dimension to the appellation’s macro-climate.

Highlights were as follows…

Bruno Giacosa 2001 Barolo Falletto

This wine, from a classic Langa vintage, showed stunningly on Tuesday. Still very tannic in its development but as it opened up over the course of the evening, it performed a symphony of earthy, mushroomy flavors. The Austin Wine Merchant is selling this wine at release price (RUN DON’T WALK).

Brovia 2004 Barolo Rocche

My first encounter with this vintage from traditional producer, Brovia, one of my favorites. Here wild berry fruit ultimately gave way to a wonderful eucalyptus note. The wine is still very tannic, of course, but was suprisingly approachable after just an hour of aeration. I loved the way the fruit and savory flavors played together like a meal in a glass. Great value for the quality of wine.

Marcarini 2005 Barolo Brunate

This wine had a bretty, barnyardy note on the nose that was a turn off for a lot of folks but guest sommelier June Rodil (the current top Texas sommelier title holder) and I really dug this wine, which weighs in at less than $60. I love the rough edges of this rustic style of Barolo and only wish that I had some bollito misto and mostarda to pair with its vegetal, sweaty horse flavors.

Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco

Tracie B, who joined at the end of the class, and I agreed that this wine is beginning to close up. It is entering a tannic phase of its development and its savoriness overpowers its fruit right now. That being said, it still represents the greatest value in Langa today, at under $40. If you read Do Bianchi, you know how much I love the wines of Produttori del Barbaresco: I would recommend opening this wine the morning of the dinner where you’d like to serve it. By the end of the night, the tannin had mellowed and the fruit began to emerge.

To reserve for my Wines of the Veneto class (Nov. 3, a seminar dear to my heart because of my personal connection to the Veneto) or my Italian Wine and Civilization Class (Nov. 10, my personal favorite), please call 512-499-0512‎. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, we’ll all head over to Trio after class for a glass of something great to celebrate. Thanks again, to everyone, for taking part and heartfelt thanks to The Austin Wine Merchant for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for Italian wines with Austin!

In other Nebbiolo news…

My buddy Mark Sayre is pouring Matteo Correggia 2006 Roero Nebbiolo by the glass at the Trio happy hour at the Four Seasons. European wine writers have been paying a lot of attention lately to the red wines of Roero (an appellation better known in this country for its aromatic white Arneis). There isn’t much red Roero available in the U.S. and I was thrilled to see this 100% Nebbiolo in the market. It’s showing beautifully right now and is my new favorite pairing for chef Todd’s fried pork belly — my compulsive obsession — a confit seasoned with the same ingredients used to make Coca Cola.

See, mom? You can sleep peacefully knowing that your son is drinking great Nebbiolo! ;-)


Does anyone remember Tom Lehrer’s “So Long Mom, I’m Off To Drop a Bomb”?

10 thoughts on “Umami blogging (and Nebbiolo gone wild)

  1. che strano…Matteo Correggia e il suo vino capitano nella mia vita per la terza volta in due settimane.
    La prima grazie ad Arturo Rota di Veronelli Editore. Mi ha raccontato in breve la breve vita di questo produttore piemontese. A Correggia è dedicato il penultimo libro della collana “I semi” di Veronelli Editori.
    La seconda è stata martedi scorso, al Boccondivino di Bra (proprio dietro la sede storica di Slow Food). La mia ospite ha scelto la stessa bottiglia della tua foto per accompagnare un antipasto di salsiccia cruda di Bra (una bontà infinita), carne battuta e du fette di lardo.
    La terza qui, da te.

  2. Nice looking flight! I’ve always been a fan of Produttori and I got a chance to stop in and visit with Aldo Vacca last year (who took me on a great tour). You’re right about value as well.

    Is that first bottle from Damilano? If so how’d that fare?


  3. I can’t wait for the Nov. 10th class! All your postings about the classes thus far have been a delight to read and I am so disappointed that I can only attend one. I hope you conduct more of these classes in the near future.

  4. Stellar line-up, Obe-won-Cannubi. I felt a little sorry for the ole Robert Voerzio next to stunners like the Brovia and Giacosa, but a wonderful flight, nonetheless.

    Thanks for having me!

    P.S. Folks, seriously ’bout the Giacosa. I’ll race you to the store.

  5. The professor of my Fundamentals of Enology class was obsessed with umami (to the point I thought he was going to suggest adding MSG to wine!) I think he actually just liked saying the word.
    Just how bad was the Brett in the Barbaresco?
    I love Pulltaps, my favourite corkscrew.
    Great post.

  6. Do:

    I notice a Roberto Voerzio wine in the photo. Wow- I’m surprised you included that – the times, they are a changin.

    But I notice you didn’t inlcude it as a highlight of the evening!

  7. wow, thanks everyone for the comments and for reading!

    @Abalush l’abbinamento salsiccia cruda-Roero Nebbiolo mi sembra una trovata veramente divina! Sono contento che hai ritrovato il tuo Roero qui da Do Bianchi! :-)

    @Jake I can’t say that I’m such a fan of Damilano but I wanted to include a modern-leaning Barolo in the flight as well. I do think that as far as modern Barolo goes, Damilano does taste like Langa. The now own the lion’s share of the quintessential vineyard of Barolo, Cannubi, once owned by Jedi knight Obi-Wan Cannubi. ;-)

    @Adrian the waiter’s key is always my go-to wine key. Great minds, right? ;-)

    @Michelle I’m so glad that you can finally join us. The Italian Wine and Civ class is my personal fav.

    @June it was so great to have you with us the other night. Thanks again… It’s always so much fun to taste with you.

    @Vinogirl the Barolo Brunate was super bretty but super good, too. Maybe not for everyone but I loved it. It was a pity to taste it without food. Wines like that really need food to show how great they are. Thanks for the kind words!

    @Tom I included the Voerzio because I wanted to show an iconic modern producer as well. His entry-level wines are more true to the appellation, I think, than his top wines. A lot of folks love those wines and that’s fine by me! I also tasted his current release Dolcetto yesterday. It was good but it lacked the earthiness that I look for in Dolcetto.

    @Anne the 2005 Produttori is a great wine for cellaring. It will only get better with time. And if you want to drink it now, just give it a little aeration time before serving (I would recommend opening it around lunchtime the day that you plan to serve it; by dinnertime, the aeration will “open” it up and bring the fruit out.)

    Thanks for reading, ya’ll! :-)

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