Archive for the 'Nebbiolo' Category

2006 Mauro Veglio Langhe Nebbiolo “Angelo”

I’ve been looking for this Nebbiolo since Candace and I had it at the now-closed L’Altro Buca in Vancouver’s West End last year. Well, it seems that the fine folks at Kitsilano Wine Cellars have finally decided to stock it. I wandered in there  last week and was pretty bloody happy to see it on the shelves.

The nose is really sexy. There’s ripe berry fruit along with a walnut liqueur edge. A sip really shows the seductive side of this wine. The full body opens up with ripe strawberry, ripe black cherry and a walnut liqueur. It’s just what I remembered and reminded me why I had been trying to find it.

So good.

$41 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4    1/2 stars

2 comments

2005 Azienda Veglio Michelino e Figlio Langhe Nebbiolo

When I picked this wine up the other night, I mistakenly thought it was the Mauro Veglio “Angelo” Nebbiolo I’ve been looking for since I had it at L’Altro Buca last year. Not so much.

This turns out to be a Nebbiolo from a lower-end producer… and is definitely not as good as the Mauro Veglio wine. A web search yielded that this wine retails for only 2,90 Euros, making the price here in Vancouver sting a bit.

The “Angelo” Nebbiolo was rich, fragrant and delicious. This one? Well, it has some of the nice Nebbiolo notes on the nose – the floral and light berry notes with a bit of citrus, but the flavours don’t keep up their end of the bargain.

In the mouth, it’s quite thin and ends with a bitter note. There are some of those nice Nebbiolo flavours – the cherry brandy and a bit of the walnut I love from the grape… but it kinda’ peters out. I have to say I’m disappointed in the wine. It’s not terrible, but definitely not what I was expecting.

I had been on a roll with the value wines, so I was due for a miss. All in all, I’d give it a pass.

~$27 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

2.5  stars

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2007 Paolo Scavino Rosso Vino da Tavola

Paolo Scavino is known as a producer of great Piemontese single vineyard Barolos. What we don’t often see over on this side of the pond are the other, more everyday wines he produces such as this Vino da Tavola. The reason for the generic name is that it’s a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and  Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not 100% sure of the percentages of each, but it all adds up to a pretty tasty bottle of the juice.

It’s deep ruby-red in colour and its nose gives up dark cherry, mocha, violets and earth. The flavours? Well, I got black cherry,  black pepper and a rustic earthiness. That leads out to a medium-length finish showing ripe dark fruit with smooth tannins. Nice stuff.

All in all, it’s not the best $35 bottle of wine I’ve had recently, but I did really enjoy it (enough that I bought a second bottle to have sometime soon).

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

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2005 Renzo Seghesio “Ruri” Nebbiolo, Langhe

11192009This wine falls squarely in the value category – especially if you want to try a decent Nebbiolo, but don’t want to lay out the $60 CDN or so that a Barolo or Barbaresco will set you back. It’s $28 at BC LDB stores – or at least at the one in downtown Vancouver at Thurlow and Alberni. For what I’m getting in my glass, it’s a very good value indeed.

In the glass, it’s got a very nice darker-than-normal-for-a-plain-‘ol-Nebbiolo colour, with a brick-ish edge. It looks rich. The nose has that classic tar and rose with walnut and sweet dark cherry. A sip gives me a soft mouthful of dark cherry, chocolate and walnut liqueur. The finish is velvety soft and mineral-edged. It’s not all that long-lasting, but this is a regular Nebbiolo and not a Barolo or Barbaresco. It is what it is and that’s pretty tasty, especially for the money.

It’s very approachable and would be a good introduction to the main Piemontese red grape for folks who want to learn more about the region.

$27.99 at the Thurlow & Alberni LDB store.

4 stars

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2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco

10302009Here’s a producer whose wines I’ve been meaning to try for a while now. I drove by the winery a few times while I was in Piedmont last year, but didn’t drop in. They’re known as the “the best co-operative in the wine world“, are said to be the main reason why Barbaresco became a separate D.O.C. from Barolo… and being from my favourite wine region, who am I to argue that? They receive grapes from some of the best areas in Barbaresco such as Asili, Moccagatta, Montefico, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajé, Pora, Rabajà and Rio Sordo. So what better place to finally get to trying one of their wines than my living room? :)

According to the Wine Spectator, the “cooperative has always paid its members according to the quality of their crop rather than just the quantity. And that’s why it consistently makes outstanding Barbarescos.

I picked this up for what I think is a good price for a quality Barbaresco – around $40 CDN. How would I describe it? The first word that comes to mind is “delicate”. The colour is light and a bright brick-ish red. It literally feels delicate in the mouth – and that’s not a bad thing.

The nose belies that. It has light ripe cherry brandy, nuts, tar and a floral rose thing going on. A taste follows along that line with a medium-weight mouth-feel that finishes with a long walnut/cherry/mineral-edge.

I love this kind of wine, so I’m going to give it a good rating. It has gorgeous flavours that stay with you and it’s extremely good value for the money.

Give it a try if you find it. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

$43.01 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

2004 L’Azienda Agricola Renato Fenocchio “Aurora”, Langhe Rosso

10142009This wine has been my go-to secret for a while now. Via Kitsilano Wine Cellars, I was able to get my hands on 6 bottles of it a while back… and I savoured every one of them. Candace and I have had it many times and also shared a bottle with Graham – making him want to find more of it as badly as I did.

It’s a hard-to-find (until now – I’ll get to that in a minute) blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera from the town of Nieve in my favourite wine region, the Langhe in Piedmont. It’s named for winemaker Renato’s daughter, Aurora and I think it’s even some of her young artwork that decorates the label.

I’m not 100% sure of the blend, but I think it’s mostly Nebbiolo with a dash of Barbera to spice things up. Now when I said it was my secret go-to wine, it was because you just couldn’t find this wine in town until last week – Kitsilano Wine Cellars received a shipment of ~ 10 cases. Now you and I can quaff this to our heart’s content.

In the glass, it’s got a classic light Barbaresco-like nose of dark cherry brandy, cinammon spice, nuts (think walnut) and a perfumed violet-edge to its tar scented finish. There’s even some of my felt tip marker in there. A big ‘ol sip gives up ripe red cherries, a kinda’ walnut liqueur thing going on and a long spicy finish.

2004 was a great year in the Langhe and this is a wine to try. It offers up a lot for the money. Most really tasty wines from the area run over $50 (at least) in our local stores. Kudos to the guys at Farmstead Wines for picking this one to bring in. In keeping with their standards, the grapes that make up Fenocchio’s wines are naturally farmed.

On their site, they point out that, “Not only do they have some of the best vineyards in the Barbaresco region, including parcels adjacent to Angelo Gaja’s, the family does all of the work themselves by hand… Renato and his wife Milva spend a ridiculous amount of time in their vineyards. In fact, their grapes are so good that they often sell excess to Bruno Giacosa.” I have to agree. These are some seriously tasty grapes, especially for the money.

$45 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

5 comments

2004 Paitin Nebbiolo d’Alba, Ca Veja

09122009This past weekend, Candace and I were in Portland, right near the Willamette Valley, which is home to some of my favourite Pinots… so what do I do? I head to Vinopolis Wine Shop and grab an Italian wine. Hey, they had a sale on and I always like a good Piemontese wine. I did bring back 5 bottles of Pinot  – all destined for write-ups on the site over the next while.

A bit later in the afternoon, when we were back at the Hotel Lucia for a bit of a break, I popped it open and stuffed my nose in the glass. What did I smell? Rose petals in cherry juice with a touch of your next-door neighbour tarring their roof, with an edge of felt tip marker. ‘Nuff said. It smelled pretty good. I like those smells from Nebbiolo.

I took a sip and tasted walnuts dipped in cherry syrup followed up with a gnaw on a leather bootstrap… with a long and very tannic finish. The flavours are good, and certainly reflective of what I’ve come to expect from a Nebbiolo-based wine, but it lacked the build and linger of the good stuff. The middle gets lost somewhere. It’s wandered away in search of its big brother, Barbaresco and the better grapes.

Don’t get me wrong I do like this wine. I just don’t love it. After having the Barbaresco from these folks, I was just expecting more.

$18.99 (on sale from $21.95) at Vinopolis in Portland.

3 1/2 stars

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2008 – My Favourites in Wine and Music

It’s the time of year that the “best of” lists make their appearances. Despite what some folks may say, these lists are pretty fun to put together and it’s always good to hear what others liked the most in the past year. What better thing to do on a snowy Saturday than to sit down and make my list? :)

Music and wine are a natural match. I’m a music freak/I’m a wine geek. Almost every memorable bottle of wine I’ve had over the years was drunk while music was playing. With that bond in mind, I thought for fun that I’d put together a list of my most memorable albums of the year and pair them with the wines I loved most in 2008 (in no particular order and based only on full bottle samples).

mgmt12000 Paitin Barbaresco, Sori Paitin paired with Oracular Spectacular” by MGMT
I’ll lead off with this one because they were both my top choices for the year. The wine was memorable in a way no other matched and the album still gets regular play. There’s more going on with both than you get at first taste or listen. They both just get better as you go. The wine was, in a word, stellar. The album had standout tracks such as “Time to Pretend”, “Kids” and “Electric Feel” – great stuff.

tvontheradio2001 Yalumba The Octavius, Barossa Old Vine Shiraz paired with Dear Science,” by TV on the Radio
What can I say about these two?.. This was what I popped open on my fortieth birthday and TV on the Radio have put out three of my favourite albums. Both have layers and layers and make you think as much as they are just plain good. The more you taste the wine, the more it comes alive – the same goes for the album. It requires multiple listens to worm its way into your consciousness… and I’m glad it did. Standout tracks include “Halfway Home”, “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose”.

boniver2003 Russell Creek Winemakers Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley paired with For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver
This is one of my favourite Washington State wineries, owned by a cantankerous and interesting guy, Larry Krivoshein. I bought this wine at his tasting room in Walla Walla and really liked talking and tasting with him. Both the album and the wine are the work of solitary guys in relatively remote locations – Justin Vernon in a remote Wisconsin cabin during a cold winter and Larry down in Walla Walla (seriously, do the drive some time). Both of them doing it their way. In 2008 they both put out products worthy of praise and enjoyment. Standout tracks on the intimate and beautiful album are “Skinny Love”, “The Wolves (Act I And II)” and “Blindsided”.

m831997 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico paired with Saturdays = Youth” by m83
Both the wine and the album had many layers… Hell, the wine was in the running for my wine of the year. Everyone who knows me knows that I love the Amarone.. and this is a helluva’ bottle of the Amarone. The wine was absolutely seductive – with raisins, plums, cherries, brandy and spice in its flavours. The album? Amazing. m83, aka Anthony Gonzalez, pulls off stuff you wouldn’t think anyone is trying these days. It’s symphonic in parts, with a sense of pop melody that leaves many of the songs in your head long after you’ve given it a listen. It’s also a “grower”, which is a good thing – it’s one of those albums you like more with each listen because you’re getting more from it. Strong stuff. I’d say it’s in my top 3 albums of the year. Tracks such as “Graveyard Girl”, “Kim & Jessie” and “Couleurs” help show why this album made my list.

elbow1999 H. Billiot Millésime Champagne paired with The Seldom Seen Kid” by Elbow
Classics… that’s what both of the wine and the album strike me as. The Billiot is amazing… and to me, is what a Champagne should be – toasty, complex and sexy, with an everlasting finish. The flavours were all about baked apples, along with some peach, honey and ginger spice. Onto the album – Elbow is one of those bands about whom I constantly marvel they’re not more popular. The singer, Guy Garver has an amazing voice that sounds like Peter Gabriel on a bender… and they consistently record strong albums. Great songs on the album are “Grounds For Divorce”, the cheery, hopeful and amazing “One Day Like This” and “The Fix” which just begs to open a British gangster film. I may have listened to this more than any other album this year.

fleetfoxes1998 Castello di Verduno Barolo, Massara paired with Fleet Foxes” by Fleet Foxes
Both of these choices were unexpected finds in 2008. I stumbled on the wine while having lunch in Verduno, Italy. It may have been the setting, but I loved this wine. The Marsala sherry, nuts, leather, cherry and flowers led to a sexy cherry brandy finish. Likewise for the album. At first it struck me as too softly harmonic and folksy (very Simon & Garfunkel-y)… but the more I listened to it, the beauty of the music won me over. It’s a mellow-day album that will leave you in a better mood for having heard it. I can’t say there are standout tracks. It’s a complete and round achievement that stands as an album.

hercules2005 Mazzocco Sonoma Zinfandel Pony, Dry Creek Valley & 2004 Mazzocco Stone Ranch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley paired with Hercules and Love Affair” by Hercules and Love Affair
These choices represent the good-times party choices of the year. If you’re at a party and drag these wines out, anyone who likes wine (especially a great Zin) will love them… and the album will get their booties moving. Both the Mazzocco Zins are made in that crushed blackberry syrup and briar style with balanced structures and finishes. Winemaker Antoine Favero does a great job there. I think they were my favourite Zins of the year – and that’s saying a lot. The Hercules album has the fantastic tune “Blind” that Pitchfork chose as their track of the year. I have to admit, it is pretty bloody good.

neonneon2006 Orin Swift Cellars “The Prisoner” paired with Stainless Style” by Neon Neon
Both of these choices are just plain unique and rock n’ roll. Dave Phinney heads a small (when we visited last January, there were 4 people doing it all) operation that turns out phenomenal wines. I first tried this wine in their offices and then gladly took one to enjoy that night. Graham’s review noted, “the Prisoner has a vibrant blackberry and ripe plum on the bouquet, which opens into briar and with some dark chocolate in the mix.” Loved it. Neon Neon grab you right away with their brand of tense early-80’s musical nostalgia and take it from there. It’s a lot of fun for someone who actually became an adult in the 80’s. I loved the tracks “Dream Cars”, “Belfast” and “Michael Douglas”.

lykkeli2001 Damilano Barolo paired with Youth Novel” by Lykke Li
I loved this wine… it was one of my finds at the Vancouver Wine Fest and was helping me set up for my forthcoming trip to Piedmont at the end of March. Like I wrote back then “…it’s a complex mix of brandied cherry, plums, leather, tar, and spice along with a violet-floral thing going on.” This family-owned winery located near the town of Barolo consistently turns out some of the best values (and wines) from the Langhe. Production on the album is provided by by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Björn and John and are just plain catchy – with Lykke’s sexily fragile voice. Standout tracks are “Dance Dance Dance”, and “Let it Fall”.

cutcopy2007 Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County paired with In Ghost Colors” by Cut/Copy
An amazing wine and an equally impressive album. The Seghesio Zin was tapped by the Wine Dictator as their #10 wine of the year and given a hefty 93 points. I can’t disagree with them much. Personally, I enjoyed the Mazzocco Zins more, but I also loved this wine. We’ve gone through 6 bottles in the last while. It’s got ripe and juicy blackberry fruit long with a form and tannic backbone showing a brambly and spicy finish. Wow. The album is also a “Wow”. I loved it the first time I heard it and have listened to it countless times since then. It’s another 80’s-influenced wonder, is funky as Hell and makes you want to shake your ass. I’m still digging tracks such as “So Haunted”, “Far Away” and “Hearts On Fire”.

frenchkicks2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough paired with Swimming” by French Kicks
I’ve drunk a helluva’ lot of this wine this year. It’s amazingly diverse in its food pairings and is mouth-wateringly tasty… and it’s the wine I ordered on my first date with Candace in 2008. We still drink it regularly. It’s got lots of tropical and citrus fruit, with a crisp backbone of acidity. It’s also a pretty amazing deal at $21.99 here in BC making it my value wine of the year. The album. I loved it. It’s one of those albums you put on and like pretty much every track. I’ve listened to it a tonne this year while preparing dinner, driving and working. It stands pretty strongly as an album, but also has great tracks with chiming guitar like “Sex Tourists”, “Abandon” and “Love in the Ruins”.

lsp2005 Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards “Three Hills Cuvée” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley paired with The Age of the Understatement” by The Last Shadow Puppets
OK, last on the list, but certainly not least… I grabbed this bottle on a trip down to the Willamette Valley last year and had been saving it… for a Pinot craving. I popped it open after Candace and I visited Portland in October and it was all it should have been – blackberry, dark cherry, dark chocolate and earthy spice. The album? Again, I loved it. It’s a very stylish side project from the Arctic Monkey’s singer, Alex Turner and  good friend of his, Miles Kane, the guitarist of the Rascals. What they came up with is a stylish and catchy sound that’s like a 60’s garage band that has developed a sudden taste for martinis. I personally think it’s a crime that the amazing tune “My Mistakes Were Made for You” wasn’t the theme for the latest Bond film, “Quantum of Solace”. Other good tracks are “The Age Of The Understatement”, “Standing Next To Me” and “I Don’t Like You Anymore”.

Honourable mentions for wines in 2008 (based on me just really likin’ them):

5 comments

2004 Flavio Roddolo Nebbiolo d’Alba, DOC

So, this is the first of the Piemontese wines I brought back from my trip to Italy that I’ve cracked open. That boy Flavio (that’s him in the pic) – he rocks. Seriously… not only is he a really nice guy, he just happens to produce some of the best wine I’ve tasted in the last year.

Since I got back, I’ve really missed the Nebbiolo grape. It makes pretty much my favourite wines – Barolos and Barbarescos. Even when it’s done in the fruitier, less complex Nebbiolo d’Alba style (Nebbiolo d’Alba requires only 1 year of aging vs. 3 for Barolos and 2 for Barbarescos), it can really rock my world.

This one gives up a nose of ripe cherry, plum and walnut (yes, I picked that up). A happy sip gave me a mouthful of all that ripe cherry, some spicy licorice and a loooonnngg walnut-y finish that had a healthy dose of tannins to give the whole package some great structure. This is a wine that reminds me what I love about the wine in Piedmont’s Langhe.

It could really be aged for a while. Though it drinks pretty bloody well now, I’d say it would easily go another 5-10 years.

If you’re lucky enough to find some, grab it and go home with a smile on your face – you’ll like what you’ve bought.

~20 euros.

4 1/2 stars

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