04 Roagna Barbaresco Pajé INSANE

I didn’t get to taste every wine at the Dressner magical mystery roadshow yesterday in Los Angeles, but I did devote ample time to Luca Roagna’s wet-dream flight of his family’s crus (above). The 05s were showing nicely but the 04 Barbaresco Pajé was INSANE, with bright acidity, wonderful wild berry notes and the earthy tones that define Barbaresco when vinified by one of the great ultratraditional houses of the appellation (IMHO). Killer wine.

I was also geeked to taste Arianna Occhipinti’s new “négociant” project: Arianna (above) has begun supervising growing practices and vinification for other growers. The 2010 Tamì Grillo was awesome, salty and crunchy and delicious, with bright, bright acidity, remarkable for
Sicily where winemakers have trouble obtaining acidity in their wines. Very groovy.

Many more LA stories to come but now I gotta get my butt back to Texas for some rock ‘n’ roll!

The San Diego Kid vs. Coalminer Mark, part II

To decant or not to decant… that was the question…

It was a damn good thing that Sheriff Houston was there when Coalminer Mark “the best sommelier in town” and the San Diego Kid (that’s me) squared off the other night over a 1999 Barbaresco Pajé by Roagna and a 2001 Barbaresco Pora by Produttori del Barbaresco.

My preference is nearly always not to decant. Yes, I know the 2001 Pora was going to be “tight,” as we say in wine geek parlance. The 2001 harvest was a fantastic, classic vintage for this wine, one of the greatest in recent memory, and this young colt has powerful tannins that currently overwhelm the beautiful fruit that is sure to emerge with its evolution. Coalminer suggested we decant it for the sake of aeration and he was right to do so: as the tight or “closed” wine came into contact with the air, it began to oxygenate and age more quickly, thus gently coaxing its fruit to come forward.

But being the diehard old school Nebbiolophile that I am, my preference is to pour the wine without decanting and aerating: I want to experience it in its evolution at that very time and place, capturing a moment of its life and its story on my palate. Of course, 2001 Pora is a wine I am sure to experience many times over the course of my and its lifetime.

Luckily, Sheriff Houston intervened, a decanter and plate of house-cured charcuterie in hand. We did decant the 2001 Pora and it was delicious, as was the 1999 Pajé with its crazy eucalyptus note.

Tracie B and I retired to our room and read Gideon’s Bible. And the world was still safe for Italian wine…

Above: Coalminer Mark (Mark Sayre, foreground) and Sheriff Houston (Ryan Mayces) played bocce at April and Craig’s crawfish boil a few weeks ago.

From the “just for fun” department…