A rare & reluctant Barolo thanks to @BRZimmerman #Boulder

barolo canonica paiagallo

One of the most fun things about what I do for a living is that my colleagues always love to “taste me” on wines I’ve never had before.

What a thrill for me when Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman asked me if I wanted to taste the 2009 Barolo Paiagallo by Canonica, one of the appellation’s most coveted “cult” producers!

Brett and his lovely wife Jenn had me over for dinner last night in Boulder, where Brett owns and runs the Boulder Wine Merchant and Jenn works as a lawyer specialized in the restaurant trade (more on my visit with them below).

I’d only ever read about this elusive wine on Levi Dalton’s superb blog. And what Levi wrote about this wine, although from a different and perhaps better vintage in Levi’s case (the 2008), rang so true: this wine has a jaw-dropping “clarity of fruit.”

If ever there were a wine to be called sui generis, this is it. It’s entirely unique and it stands alone, instantly recognizable as Barolo but apart from the canon (similar to the way Soldera’s Brunello di Montalcino is an entirely idiosyncratic expression of its appellation).

I love what the Barolo di Barolo website says in its profile of Giovanni Canonica, who owns just 1.5 hectares planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo: the winemaker “wants to stays as far away from the market” as he can, writes the author of the piece; his wines are “extorted” from him rather than “released” by him, says Canonica.

And I love that this reluctant barolista has named his farm and agriturismo after the iconic painting, “The Fourth Estate,” by twentieth-century master Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo.

It’s one of the most extraordinary (literally) bottlings of Barolo I’ve ever tasted, a wine that wears its ideology on its sleeve, and I highly recommend it to you.

boulder wine merchant

I’m in Boulder today because Brett has asked me to become a regular contributor to his shop’s blog. I’ve already begun to publish some wine education posts there and as our work together expands, I’ll be posting on featured wines, wine tourism, and Brett’s work as a wine educator and Master Sommelier (he recently returned, for example, from La Paulée San Francisco, where he and team of his fellow Master Sommeliers oversaw wine service for the event).

Brett and I have known each other for more than seven years now and I’ve always enjoyed following his work and his seminars at TexSom, the annual sommelier gathering in Dallas.

He’s one of the nicest people in the trade and I am entirely geeked and proud to be working with someone of his caliber.

I’m also excited about having an excuse to visit Boulder a few times a year. There are more Master Sommeliers and top-notch wine professionals here pro capite than anywhere else in the country and the general level of food and wine connoisseurship here — among professionals and consumers — is remarkable. It’s one of our nation’s new meccas for gastronomy and I love it here.

Stay tuned… my two-day Colorado adventure has just begun.

4 thoughts on “A rare & reluctant Barolo thanks to @BRZimmerman #Boulder

  1. Thanks for jogging my wine memory. We visited Boulder a few years ago–and obviously had to find a good wine store. By dumb luck, we happened upon Boulder Wine Merchant. We tasted through Piemonte for 10 days the previous year; back in the States, we searched in vain for Barolo by Bovio. WOW!! On their shelves, I found 3 different Bovio creations–bought them all!

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