It’s a long time between entries as far as writing on this blog (I’ve been focusing much more on The Vincast), but I thought it was about time to start putting pen to paper (metaphorically) again. I’ve decided to start something a bit different; rather than a simple tasting note on a wine, or a description of a producer and their methods, I would make the point that a bottle of wine is the property and perspective of the drinker when they open it. Every so often I open a bottle from my own collection or I taste a wine that has a personal story and a connection for me. In addition I will talk about the context in which I have enjoyed said wine; who I drink it with, where and what with. I hope you enjoy, and of course you are welcome to share some of your own experiences, whether with the wine in question or a different one entirely.
Way back in April of 2012, just after Easter in fact, I was making my way through Italy as part of my wine odyssey, and I happened to be in the Piemonte region of northern Italy, predominantly spent in Alba in and around Barolo and Barbaresco. Up until that point in my imbibing career I’d had very few opportunities to explore the noble nebbiolo wines of Italy, having limited finances and limited working experience in a position that would afford it. Those instances I had the pleasure of tasting had intrigued me and led me to believe they were the finest wines Italy had to offer. Bold yet fine, intense yet supple, having the potential to be consumed (relatively) young yet possessing incredible ageing potential.
The fourth day in Alba was my last day for this trip, and was also the day I visited three very important producers in Luciano Sandrone, Chiara Boschis and Roberto Voerzio. All three are great estates albeit relatively small, producing outstanding but quite different examples. Of the three producers, Voerzio to me, even then, was clearly the most extreme. It’s interesting for me to look back on the visit now, as I am a lot less inexperienced and naive as I was then, yet I was already beginning to hone in on the type of wines I most responded to. If I am to be honest, the only extreme thing I prefer about my wines is where they come from. And by extreme, I’m talking about remote places, or steep vineyards, or very poor soils, or locations of significant history. Nothing about the viticulture nor winemaking should be extreme in any way in my estimation.
The bottle in question was the 2006 Barolo Cerequio from Voerzio, and if you look at my entry and subsequent tasting notes, I didn’t actually taste this wine when I visited. In fact the bottle was gifted to me by my generous host Davide (Robertos son). The bottle then travelled with me for the next five weeks as I made my way south through Italy, tightly rolled in a jumper and tucked in my backpack for safekeeping. I managed to get the bottle back to Milan where I left it with a family friend for the rest of 2012 in their cellar. The wine was collected just after Christmas that year when I returned, came back with me in February of 2013, and has been in my cellar under my parents house ever since.
I opened the wine recently at Ostera La Passione restaurant in Richmond, Melbourne. I was invited to join importer/distributor friend Nazzareno Fazio of Vinosita and sommelier friend Loris Sain, along with their respective partners, as they were planning on opening some Barolo wines to enjoy over dinner. I relished the opportunity, as I knew one would be a 2004 Cappellano Barolo Rupestris, a classic old-school producer and a reportedly benchmark vintage. Searching through my meagre collection of nebbiolo wines the one that stood out was the Voerzio, mostly just to see what Naz and Loris thought of it.
The meal was beautifully rustic and authentic, lovingly prepared (and at some points served) by chef Carmine Costantini, who earned his stripes in the famous food town of Modena in Emilia-Romagna. Perhaps unsurprisingly the pasta dish was a tagliatelle alla bolognese, which worked well with the barolos, as did the suckling pig for main. What worked even better with the wines was the company, as we covered numerous topics of discussion mostly relating to Italy and Italian wine. With none of the wines being older than ten years, we agreed that they were still for the most part babies, and although the Cappellano was fantastic the stand out for me was the Cantina del Glicine Barbaresco Currà 2010 which was crunchy yet fine and long.
The 2006 Cerequio was as I expected stylistically; very dense, warm and lifted tannins, bold long fruits and all hot notes. The concentration was evident, and unquestionably the wine was far too young. The overwhelming impression I had was that of oak sitting over the top of everything like a feather quilt, that barrique quality creating an impenetrable fortress from appreciating the nuances of site and variety. In hindsight I of course should have kept it down longer, but my opinion is that no amount of cellaring would have led to that oak disappearing completely. And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to see oak in wine. At all.