Working in the wine trade has its ups and downs. But, man, last week was one for the books.
It started on Monday in Midtown Manhattan where I sat down with Raffaella Federzoni from Fattoria dei Barbi and a group of wine writers and trade member for a vertical tasting of the estate’s Brunello stretching back to 1971 (above). The 89 and 81 (especially) where my highlights, with so much freshness and vibrant fruit that you would have thought the wines much younger. An incredible experience and tasting, on so many levels. What amazing wines.
Raffaella’s insights into Brunello and its legacy are always so compelling. She’s such a cool and massively well read person and great writer. I love her and I love working with her.
On Tuesday, my wonderful and generous friend Jamie Wolff saved me a seat at a dinner featuring Barale Barolo stretching back to 1958 (above). The 89 (wow!!!) and the 78 (gorgeous, a wine at its peak) were the highlights. I loved the aromatic fil rouge of eucalyptus and sage that ran through these wines, playing against their earth, fruit, and tannin. Another breathtaking tasting.
The setting was Popina in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, which I loved.
Jamie is such a remarkable taster and Nebbiolo intenditore. His laugh is as warm as his embrace and I could spend a lifetime hearing him speak about the New York art scene in the 90s.
By Friday I was tasting in Piedmont at Scarpa, a new winery I’m helping out. Well, new for me but also one of Monferrato and Langa’s oldest and most beloved legacy producers.
Lunch at the legendary Del Belbo da Bardon included a mini vertical of the winery’s flagship Barbera d’Asti La Bogliona (above). The 08 and the 12 were equally delicious but the 2011 was showing the best that day imho. The Rouchet (Ruché, I’ll explain later) was INSANE with the Gorgonzola at the end of the meal.
Back at the winery, this 1996 Barbera d’Asti La Bogliona (above) was one of the best wines of the week… one of the best of the year, really. So fresh and so in focus, with such clarity in the fruit.
I couple of my ex-students, two of my best, are working at the winery and it was so much fun to reconnect with them.
Nebbiolo, just before sundown, in their rows in Monvigliero, a Barolo cru in Verduno village (above).
The whole vibe of Scarpa is super cool. From the old chain-smoking cellar master Carlo to the brilliant woman, Riika (another alumna of the Master’s Program at Slow Food U. although she graduated before I started teaching there), who keeps it all together.
That’s their I Bricchi cru in Barbera d’Asti (above). La Bogliona is on the other side of the road at the top of the hill.
And the end of our tour, we sat in the shade of the trees by the abandoned farm house and talked about Cesare Pavese as Gregorio, my ex-student, picked juicy ripe figs from the edge of the vineyards and Caro smoked. I took this photo not far from the house.
On Sunday morning, I was walking through Nadia Zenato’s beautiful organic Sansonina estate (above), a stone’s throw from Lake Garda, where her family’s been growing Merlot and Cabernet for a couple of decades now.
Nadia is so hip and glamorous and her family is engaged in so many cool charitable, community, and cultural projects in Verona province. I always knew their wines but didn’t know the people until she reached out and asked me to give her a hand with some translations and content this year. Super cool family and business leaders with a lot of soul.
That evening I tasted her Sansonina 2016 Merlot. The acidity and balance in this wine were spot on, with great freshness and texture. I really dug it and dig the whole crazy Zenato gusto for life and doing things that really matter.
I’m posting right now from the flight back across the Atlantic. It’s been an incredible week of tasting, learning, and hanging with people who really love what they do and who do what they do really well.
All in all, it’s nice work if you can get it… Thanks for letting me share one of the most amazing wine weeks of my life.