Ever since wine maven and merchant Jamie Wolff of Chambers St. Wines poured the 1996 not so long ago in Manhattan, Lino Maga’s Barbacarlo — the legendary monopole from Oltrepò Pavese — has been the toast of the New York wine scene cognoscenti.
Jamie’s (and New York’s) recent discovery has been a best-kept secret among the Italian wine glitterati for decades. And in recent years, library releases of these extraordinary wines have been popping up in the old country.
Ubi major minor cessat. I couldn’t have said it better than Jamie when he wrote:
“Made from roughly equal parts Croatina, Uva Rara, and Vespolina, the wine is clean and it’s very distinctive. It’s dark and savory with very complex aromatics of rhubarb, plums, violets, and tea; it’s structured and tannic, and there’s a bit of spritz on the palate which gives lift. Chemicals have never been used in the vines; fermentation is spontaneous, in large old botti; aside from a couple of rackings no other processes are done — the bottled wine has sediment. After tasting at Maga, I could see my friend Luca’s point in drawing a parallel between Maga and Bartolo Mascarello; aside from being of the same generation and sharing the same philosophy of wine, Luca’s view was based on the quality of their wine: both winemakers reject flashy effects, both are determined to sustain the tradition and practices of their families and of their regions; both obtain authentic wines of the highest possible quality.”
On Saturday, April 9, at 3 p.m., I will be co-presenting a vertical tasting of Barbacarlo at the ViniVeri fair in Cerea. It will include the 1983, 1989, 1999, 2007, 2010, and 2011.
The tasting will also feature the 1982, 2010 and 2011 vintages of Montebuono, another historic label by winemaker and Knight Commander Lino Maga.*
The event is not cheap at 50 euros per person. But it is sure to be a blockbuster.
A few weeks ago when ViniVeri consortium president Giampiero Bea contacted me about giving the association a hand this year in promoting awareness of the fair and its causes, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
But I never would have dreamed that one of the perks would be chasing a natural wine unicorn.
I’ll be at the fair in Cerea all day on Saturday, April 9. Please join me if you can, whether for the walk-around tasting or the Barbacarlo event.
And don’t forget that Davide Vanni will also be presenting his new film “Vitae” that same evening. It’s a documentary chronicling his visits to 50 natural wine producers over the course of a year and it’s one of the most talked-about events at the fair this year.
*Knight Commander in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Image by Marina Ciancaglini via Intravino.