More Nebbiolo news (and a lil’ guitar porn)

One of the frequent questions that we wine folk get is “what’s your favorite wine?” It’s not an easy one to answer. I always tell people, it depends on where I am, whom I’m with, and what I’m eating. A favorite wine could be a humble bottle of grapey Lambrusco with some belt-busting gnocco fritto and rendered lard or it could be a 40-year-old Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino and a blood-rare porterhouse steak, the genteel noble tannin of the Nebbiolo waltzing with the marbled meat.

But if there ever were ONE wine, one winery that I could point to and say that’s my favorite, it would have to be Produttori del Barbaresco. I love the wines, I have deep respect for the people who grow it and make it, and the ideology and winemaking philosophy that stand behind it. I also love it because I can afford it and because I can afford to “follow” each vintage. And more than anything else, I love how the style of the winery has remained so consistent: whether tasting a ’67, an ’89, or the current release ’05, the style of the “house” steadfastly represents the terroir and the vintage.

And so it was a thrill yesterday to taste the 2008 Langhe Nebbiolo by Produttori del Barbaresco, the cooperative’s entry-level wine, made from the member growers’s younger vines, and vinified with shorter maceration time and aging.

The 2007 was an anomalous vintage for this wine. The bumper crop of noble fruit resulted in a more tannic and richer expression of Nebbiolo than you usually see in this wine (I think this is what BrooklynGuy found to be off-putting when we exchanged notes about it). When I told winemaker Aldo Vacca that as much as I loath the expression “baby Barbaresco,” the ’07 was the one instance when I thought the Langhe Nebbiolo was “Barbaresco-esque.” “Baby Barberesco?” he said to me with a quizzical look. “Baby Barolo!”

With the ’08, the wine has returned to is more classic style: a Nebbiolo lighter in body, with very approachable berry fruit and sour cherry and already mellow tannin. Great for drinking now. Damn, I love this wine. It should retail for around $20, more or less. A great value.

In other news… boys will be boys…

John Roenigk and I played a little hooky yesterday after tasting and some lunch: we went to one of the most amazing guitar stores I have ever visited, Quincy’s here in Austin. (John’s an amazing musician and I’ve been helping him transfer some of his recordings from the 1980s to digital format, one of the other things that GarageBand is great for. That dude can play him some serious geetar.)

I sure wish I had the dough to afford one of these handmade beauties. It’s hard to convey what it’s like to play guitars of this caliber. Their sounds are warm and round, with the bass notes resonating like a train in the distance and the highs sparkling like stars in the sky. That’s a 1999 Gibson SJ200 Custom (Brazilian) in the foreground.

But when you actually play them, the sensation of feeling the sounds emanate from the warm wood pressed up against your belly is purely transcendental. That’s a ’52 Martin D28 above — one of the few vintage guitars owner Pat Skrovan had in the store yesterday.

Feast your eyes on that National Steel Reso-Phonic Delphi Deluxe, above.

Happy halloween ya’ll!