Friday, November 30, 2012

Prosecco -- The wine production areas

Franciacorta is probably the Italian sparkling wine closest to Champagne in terms of cachet but it is Prosecco, one of the other Italian sparklers, that led the charge of Italian sparkling wines as they jumped ahead of French sparkling wine sales for the first time in 2009.  I will be exploring the reasons for this surge in Prosecco popularity but will first provide some background on the source variety and the growing regions.

The Prosecco DOC was first awarded in 1969 and was restricted to wines produced in the Conegliano-Valdiobbadene region.  Growers felt that the brand was under attack by "imitators" using just the grape variety and moved to isolate those competitors by changing both the rules and the venue of the game.  Prosecco growers agitated for, and gained regulatory acceptance of: (i) extension of the Prosecco DOC to cover all of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and approximately two-thirds of Veneto; (ii) promotion of the original Prosecco DOC to DOCG status; (iii) changing the name of the source grape from Prosecco to Glera; and (iv) restricting the use of the name Prosecco only to Glera sparkling wines produced within the delimited zones.  The growers felt that these actions would serve to protect their territory, the brand, and the quality of Prosecco.  The regulations authorizing these actions came into law in 2009.

The Grape(s)

Prosecco is primarily made from the Glera (formerly Prosecco; also known as Prosecco Bianco and Proseko Sciprina) grape variety, a native of northeast Italy which has been used to produce wines since Roman times.  This late-ripening, thick-skinned variety has greenish-yellow berries which evolve to a yellow-gold color as the grapes ripen.  The grapes are high in acid and have a white peach aromatic profile, qualities which render them eminently suitable for the production of sparkling wines.

Glera is primarily used in the production of fizzy and sparkling wines but there are a few examples of still Glera wines around.  In addition to Glera, Prosecco wines can contain as much as 15% of other grape varieties.  The most oft-used supplements are Verdiso, Branchetta, Perera, Glera Lunga, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.

The Production Areas

Prosecco DOC

Prosecco DOC wines are authorized for production in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto (provinces of Treviso, Belluna, Padova, Venezia, and Vicenzia).  Within the broader Prosecco DOC, there are two sub-zones: DOC Treviso Prosecco and Prosecco di Trieste. These sub-zones cover Prosecco made within these two provinces and wines made therein can so indicate on their labels.  Prosecco wines made in other provinces cannot carry the province name on the labels.


Prosecco DOCG

There are two separate Prosecco DOCG zones, both falling within the borders of the province of Treviso.  The first, and having the greatest repute, is Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.  This zone is approximately 50 km from Venice and 100 km from the Dolomites. It runs east to west from the plains to the foot of the Alps and incorporates the 15 hill communities that lie between Conegliano and Valdiobbadene.  Approximately 6100 ha of vineyards are deployed on south-facing slopes that range between 50- and 500-meters high.

An area within the municipality of Valdiobbadene called Cartizze is considered the region's cru.  This 106-ha area has a mild microclimate and a varied soil to include moraine, sandstone, and clay components.  The vineyards are positioned on south-facing slopes and have excellent drainage.


The second DOCG zone is Colli Asolani/Asolo and is located in the Montello e Colli Asolani wine region.  It encompasses a 5-mile-long ridge of gently rolling hills running between the towns of Cornuda and Asolo.  The best vineyards are found on south-facing slopes where the gentle gradients and loose soil combine for excellent drainage and optimal sunlight exposure.


A subsequent post will cover Prosecco viniculture and viticulture.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winery tour and Tasting with Angelo and Gaia Gaja: Decanter's Great Piemonte Reader Weekend

On Saturday we boarded the bus in front of our hotel and headed north.  Our destination? The Barbaresco winery of Angelo Gaja, the Piemontese winemaker credited by Wine Spectator with "driving Italian wine to higher ground."  This was the second stop on our Decanter Great Piemonte Reader Weekend which had kicked-off with a Truffle hunt and a winery tour at G.D. Vajra.

We were scheduled for a tour and tasting at the Gaja winery, followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant. We were told that Mr. Gaja would be our host on this tour but we were also warned that, this being harvest time, there was a possibility that he would be unable to meet that commitment.  In the event that he could not make it, his daughter, Gaia Gaja, would stand in his stead.  We had steeled ourselves for this possibility and let out a collective sigh of relief when we rolled up to this imposing, walled enclosure and the electronic gate was being operated by a slight-of-stature, distinguished-looking gentleman: Angelo Gaja.  He was here and we would be spending the next 5 hours in his company.  Heavenly.

We disembarked and he welcomed each of us with a broad smile and an effusive handshake.  We initially toured the courtyard of the winery while Mr. Gaja described the improvements that had been made to the winery and the surrounding vineyards since 1982.  Sometime during this courtyard discussion we were joined by Gaia Gaja.  While in the courtyard, Mr. Gaja pointed up to the tower on the hill and said that that was our final destination.  The tower had been purchased by Gaja several years ago and had been connected by an underground tunnel which had been dug meter by meter over many winters.  We stepped into the winery to begin our journey to the tower.

The first room that we entered was devoted to a collection of "unique" pieces of art and larger pieces were sprinkled throughout the winery.  As we wended our way through rooms with casks and barrels, Angelo kept up a steady stream of conversation on the winery and winemaking operations.

After a fairly extensive walk underground, we debouched onto the ground floor of the castle and then made our way outdoors into a trellised garden.  The trellises were bare, the result of a plant-stripping storm which had recently passed through the area.

Used with permission of Decanter

Used with permission of Decanter
This was definitely not a wine geeky tour.  Mr. Gaja spent a lot of time on the tradition and history of the winery, his philosophy, and the challenges of getting his vision implemented in a culture which values inertia.  After completing a tour of the castle and grounds, we made our way to a room which was set up for our tasting.

Used with permission of Decanter

The table below shows the totality of the wines produced by Gaja.  The actual tasting was drawn from the subset pictured below.

We were led in the tasting by Gaia Gaja.  The first wine tasted was the 1998 Alteni di Brassica in magnum.  This 100% Sauvignon Blanc wine is classified Langhe DOC and is sourced from a vineyard attached to the famed Sori San Lorenzo as well as the Sauvignon Blanc grapes planted in Sperss after its purchase in 1988.  According to Mr. Gaja, the Alteni di Brassica gets its high acidity from Sori San Lorenzo and its sweetness from Sperss.  The wine was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in barriques for 6 months.  The wines from the two vineyards are blended after aging.  This wine exhibited petrol, rust, and green phenols on the nose.  On the palate a hint of tannin accompanying medium+ acidity, minerality, and a long, spicy finish.

Next up was the 2009 Barbaresco DOCG in magnum.  According to Angelo, rain during this vintage caused a collapse of the surrounding hills.  Unfortunately this rain happened to coincide with flowering resulting in "more stems than berries."  It was hot during the summertime and ripening proceeded "beautifully" but "there was more skin than juice." This wine had ripe rhubarb and pomegranate on the nose along with tar.  A lean structure accompanying drying tannins on the palate.

The Sori Tildin 2001 magnum is classified Nebbiolo DOC and is 95% Nebbiolo and 5% Barbera.  According to Angelo, Sori means top of the hill facing the sun and this vineyard was purchased in 1964 by his grandfather.  It has historically been considered one of the best locations in Barbaresco.  The Barberesco soil, according to Angelo, is older and softer and softer soil yields a softer wine.  The soil is comprised of compact clay and limestone below a sandy top layer.  The vineyard is at 300 meters altitude and is always windy.  Dark fruit and licorice on the nose.  Elegance, acidity, balance, and length on the palate.

The Costa Russi 1998 was sourced from 70- to 80-year-old vines in the Costa Russi vineyard.  The vines are planted horizontally with densities of 4200 vines/ha with higher spacing between vines to compensate for higher humidity.  This wine is 95% Nebbiolo and 5% Barbera and is classified Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.  Blackberry and red fruits on the nose along with tar and a florality.  Ripe fruit and spiciness on the palate.  Drying tannins on a long finish.

The Sperss 1989 magnum is classified Barolo DOCG.  This vineyard was bought in 1988 according to Angelo, and has a lot more iron in the soil than any of the other vineyards. Wet wood and blood character along with a blueing on the nose.  Slight bitterness and heavy iron content on the palate.  Metallic tannin.

The 1978 Barbaresco DOCG showed its age in the color and exhibited a piney characteristic along with white spice on the nose.  Great weight on the palate, rust, dried fruits and a spiciness to go along with a long finish.

At the conslusion of the tasting we repaired to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Used with permission of Decanter
Used with permission of Decanter

Angelo Gaja is an inveterate and accomplished storyteller.  From the moment we stepped off the bus until we re-embarked 5 hours later, our ears were his.  He told stories about the expansion of the winery over the years, the procurement and incorporation of the Barbaresco castle into the Gaja winery holdings, how he got his daughter to come home and join the family business, the family history, how he had moved Gaja from a local player to a worldwide power, what it means to be an artisan winemaker, and about the greatest wine he had ever drunk.  And we listened captivated and open-mouthed.  Where did the time go?

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stellar vintages in the Luma Cellar: A tasting (In collaboration with Ron Siegel)

Saturday last, Ron pulled together a group of the "regulars" for a dinner and tasting at Luma on Park, one of our favorite restaurants in the Orlando area.  There was no predetermined theme.  Everyone brought whatever they wanted and Ron assigned the bottles to flights.  The actual event took place in Luma's basement cellar, which, in a prior life, served as the vault of the long-departed Barnett Bank.  This bottle-lined, world onto itself is a perfect retreat for an event such as this with no external intervention beyond the coming and goings of the always attentive wait staff.

Traffic was heavy on I-4 so by the time I got to the location, the assembled group had already polished off a 1996 Roederer Cristal and were well on the way to demolishing an NV Jacques Selosse Initial.  The cocktail hour was extended to include a session of Palmer and Pizza wherein the famous Luma flatbread Pizza was paired with a 1975 Chateau Palmer.  The Palmer had black and red fruit on the nose, forest floor, spice and red pepper.  On the palate pepper, dankness, tar, and a tongue-coating minerality.  This wine was elegant with medium plus acidity and a long, drying finish.

Ron Siegel, friend, tasting organizer, and occasional guest poster on this blog, takes up the narrative from this point.

Our first course was accompanied by a 2004 Bouchard Pere et Fils Corton-Charlemagne and a 1993 Haut-Brion Blanc.  The Corton-Charlemagne had a nose of citrus, lemon, green apple, and asparagus. It started out drinking like a Chablis with notes of sea shell and flint.  This wine should have been decanted as it took a while to open up.  Wow on the Haut-Brion Blanc.  It might be my favorite vintage for current drinking; showing sweet fruit of lychee along with green mango.  Much more open than the Corton Charlie with classic candle wax and flinty, smoky notes on the nose.

The bridge between the white and red wines was a 1947 Casa de Sonoma California Cabernet Sauvignon brought by Steve Alcorn. This wine had been recorked in 1982 at Sebastiani Cellars and the original cork was in a pouch attached to the neck of the bottle. See Steve's blog for tasting notes on this wine.

We followed the bridge with a Remoissenet Burgundy flight wrapped around a pork course.  The 1964 Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes had a nose of red fruits and forest floor but had this musty and woodsy smell that made it my least favorite of the flight.  The 1971 Corton Diamond Jubilee started off with a little curry and sweet red fruit. Fat and round with a touch of burnt marshmallow.  More opulent in style than the Nuits-Saint-Georges.  The 1971 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Argillières exhibited nice cherry aromas, more acid on the fruit, and nice length.  A very enjoyable drink but leaner in style than the Corton.

The Remoissenet flight was followed by a second Burgundy flight wherein two of the three bottles were drawn from the fabled 1947 vintage, considered by some to be the greatest Burgundy vintage ever.  The first bottle of the flight, the Remoissenet 1947 Chambertin Clos de Beze, drank like a 1990.  Amazingly rich and youthful.  Showing the classic soy and Asian spice.  Really a step up over the 71’s.  The Drapier 1947 Romanee St.-Vivant was very aromatic.  A nose of cherry, cinnamon, clove, and Asian spice. Classic Romanee St.-Vivant, feminine and aromatic but not as powerful or rich as the Clos de Beze.  The final wine in this flight was the 1961 Hudeolet Bonnes Mares.  Dark color, very spicy and floral. Someone referred to it as almost-perfume-like.  A great flight of Burgundies.

With the Burgundies behind us, we turned our attention to that other great French gift to wine drinkers: Bordeaux.  We had three separate Bordeaux flights beginning with one featuring wines from the 1966 vintage.  The wines in this flight were Chateaus Leoville-Poyferré, La Mission Haut Brion, and Canon-la-Gaffeliere.  This flight was a little disappointing as nothing stood out.  Even the La Miss, which had won wine-of-the-night honors the last time that it was opened at one of our events, seemed to be a little off even though some at the table really liked it (Editors note: I don't know what they were thinking or drinking).

The second Bordeaux flight was a Chateau Haut-Brion mashup: 1962, 1971, and 1990.  This flight was very interesting as I had never had the '62 or the '71.  The '62 had a very dark color, rich sweet dark fruit in the mouth.  Almost syrupy in texture with tobacco, smoke, and black fruit.  A nice wine. The '71 was not as rich or as youthful as the '62 but showed the classic Haut-Brion style of cigar box, smoke, black fruits, and spice. The '90 was a different beast as it was still very young and needed more time to open.  I wish that I had decanted it a few hours ahead instead of doing a pop-and-pour.  Nose of black fruits, soy, and cigar box.  Very aromatic with spices and herbs.  The wine kept building in the glass and I am sure that with a few more years it will be one of the great Haut-Brion’s.  I will be purchasing more of this wine.

The final Bordeaux flight was a Pomerol-Pauillac face-off: 1994 Petrus against 1982 and 1989 Lynch Bages.  The '94 Petrus was a surprise as it showed some lovely sweet red fruit and seemed fully mature, drinking beautifully now, with great balance and texture.  The best '94 Bordeaux that I have had!  The 1982 Lynch Bages also showed well.  Red and black fruits with leather and spice with nice minerality.  This '82 appeared to be fully mature and was drinking well. The '89 is a great Lynch but is way too young as it was showing a lot of tannins.  I have 2 cases and would not touch for another 5 years minimum. I love Lynch but am currently drinking the '60’s, '70’s and the early- to mid-'80’s as they need time.

The Dessert flight was interesting with the 99-point 2001 Rieussec and the 100-point 2001 Climens.  I thought none of them showed as well as the Suduiraut or Yquem, the stars of the '01 Sauterne vintage.

Dinner was over but there was still some drinking to do so I opened a 2000 DRC Echezeaux. This wine is still very young with a nose of black cherry, soy, spice, mushroom and a florality.  I love the power and structure of this wine and will revisit it in a few years.  I also opened an 03 Rayas that was not in Steve’s Blog.  This did not disappoint. It was not a blockbuster but showed the classic Kirsch, strawberry, and spice that makes this wine special.  Classic Grenache flavors but none of the overripe fruit that is normally associated with this vintage.

The full Monty.

It was another great night of wine discussion and appreciation as it is very interesting to drink these great wines and compare them to their peers.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The risks of sluggish and stuck fermentations when utilizing natural yeasts

I have previously characterized the risks associated with natural-yeast fermentations thusly: (i) stuck fermentations; (ii) yeasts washed off grapes during inclement weather; (iii) spoilage yeast contamination; (iv) lengthy fermentation times; and (v) persistence of negative characteristics.  I have begun a process of exploring these perceived risks in greater detail -- beginning with a recent post on spoilage yeast contamination -- and will continue on that path with the current post on the risks of sluggish and stuck fermentations.

Slow or sluggish fermentation is characterized by low sugar utilization by the attendant yeasts while incomplete (stuck) fermentations occur when a higher-than-desired level of residual sugar remains at the conclusion of alcoholic fermentation (Klaus A. Sutterlin, Fructophilic yeasts to cure stuck fermentations in alcoholic beverages, PhD dissertation, Stellenbosch University, March 2010).  Sluggish or stuck fermentations are the second most significant enological problem faced by winemakers (2003 American Vineyard Foundation survey and 1996 Association for the Development of Wine Biotechnology survey, both cited in Sutterlin 2010) and, with more than 60% of respondents  admitting to having experienced one or both of these problems, the economic costs are perceived as being enormous.

According to Bisson and Butzke (Diagnosis and Rectification of Stuck and Sluggish Fermentations, American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 51(2), 2000), there are four types of fermentations which deviate from the "normal" fermentation profile: (i) sluggish initiation with the rate eventually becoming normal; (ii) normal initiation becoming sluggish; (iii) sluggish throughout the entire process; and (iv) abrupt arrest late in the fermentation.

Bisson and Butzke report that slow fermentation initiation (Type (i) in the foregoing) can occur in both natural and inoculated fermentations and, in the case of natural fermentations, "the sluggish start may simply be due to low numbers of yeasts in the must and not reflect any particular problem other than an initial low biomass."  Based on their research, the authors aver that fermentation will go to completion, depending on juice conditions and the presence of other organisms, with as little as 100 viable Saccharomyces cells/mL present at initiation.

The risk of deficient (< 100 viable cells/mL) Saccharomyces populations leading to a problem fermentation is highest in the earliest portions of the crush.  As crush is prolonged, Saccharomyces bacteria will colonize the winery equipment such that juice and must passing through said equipment will have their levels of Saccharomyces elevated.

In the cases where there are low initial levels of Saccharomyces, holding juice at low temperatures is risky as it (i) encourages the growth of Kloeckera apiculata and (ii) is injurious to the existing Saccharomyces yeasts.  If the Saccharomyces yeasts are able to dominate, the fermentation will proceed to completion; if not, the fermentation will arrest.  It should be noted that the lower the level of the initial Saccharomyces population, the greater the growth requirements of the juice.  Bisson and Butzke estimate that it will take 13 generations to get from an initial level of 100 cells/mL to a typical innoculum level of  106 cells/mL.

According to Malherbe, stuck fermentations can be caused by glucose/fructose ratio imbalance, nutritional limitations of the must (nitrogen deficiency, oxygen deficiency, mineral deficiency, vitamin deficiency), inhibitory substances (ethanol, toxic acids, the effects of sulphites, killer toxins, fungicide/pesticide residues), and a number of physical factors (excessive must clarification, temperature extremes, excessive use of Sulphur Dioxide).  When compared to this range of potential stuck-fermentation causative factors, the risk of low initial yeast population in natural fermentations does not seem that stark.  Bisson and Butzke has shown that fermentation can conclude successfully even beginning with yeast levls as low as 100 cells/mL and if the fermentation continues in a sluggish manner, or gets stuck, it is a biomass rather than a starter problem.  Further, the risk of sluggish initiation is not restricted to natural yeast fermentations.  According to Bisson and Butzke, poor starter culture can lead to sluggish initiation in the case of inoculated fermentations.

To conclude then, sluggish/stuck fermentations is an issue that a winemaker always has to be cognizant off and has to constantly monitor against.  There are many opportunities for this curse to be visited upon the winemaker and one of those cases is at the initiation of the fermentation where it will register as a sluggish start.  Such a manifestation could be apparent whether the fermentation is natural or inoculated.  All things being equal in the biomass, the natural yeast fermentation should right itself and proceed to completion.  There does not seem to be an outsized and determinative risk of stuck fermentations if one practices natural yeast fermentation.  There is an obvious lag phase however, as the yeast levels build up from cellar-entry levels to standard starter inoculate levels.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lunch and winery tour with G.D. Vajra: Decanter's Great Piemonte Reader Weekend

Azienda Agricola G. D. Vajra, a winery owned by Milena and Aldo Vaira, produces Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto wines in the Barolo commune of the Langhe sub-region of Piemonte. In this post I will discuss our lunch and winery visit hosted by this esteemed estate as a part of Decanter’s Great Piedmont Reader Weekend.

The G. D. Vajra (The family name is Vaira, similar pronunciation as for the winery, with the difference in spelling resulting from a printer's error which the owners retained as the winery name.) vineyards cover 60 hectares and are planted to Nebbiolo at elevations between 350 and 400 meters and Dolcetto and Barbera at lower elevations.  In addition to the vineyards in Barolo (Bricco delle Viole, Fossati, La Volta, and Coste de Vergne) the Vairas have taken over control of the Serralunga d'Alba vineyards (Baudana and Cerretta crus) of Luigi Baudana via a purchase by the Vaira children.  Giuseppe is the winemaker for the wines produced from these vineyards.

We were scheduled to begin the day's events with a lunch at Tra Arte e Quercie (between art and oak trees) in Monchiero with Giuseppe Vaira (of G.D. Vajra).  When we arrived at the destination, we were greeted warmly by Giuseppe in the restaurant courtyard and treated to a short discourse on the area, the restaurant, and our activities for the remainder of the day.  After this sun-soaked introduction, we were ushered into the restaurant for a much anticipated lunch paired with Vajra wines.

The first wine tasted at lunch was the 2011 Langhe Riesling.  According to Giuseppe, 2011 was a warm vintage in Langhe, one that will prove to be exciting because of the incidences of rain and hailstorm.  He saw it as reminescent of the 2008 vintage.  Prior to the 2011 vintage, the Langhe Riesling was called Langhe Bianco.  The vines for this wine were planted 21 years ago and the wine, according to Giuseppe, is notable for its sense of place, its personality, and its ability to pair well with regional foods.  This wine had a lot of tropical notes and was perfumed and floral.  It reminded Giuseppe of a Trocken from Rheingau.  On the palate, lime, a sweet minerality and refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity.  To me, a fruitier version of a JacobsCreek Steingarten Riesling.

Our second course, the Pumpkin Pudding with Cheese Fondue, was paired with a 2010 Dolcetto d'Alba.  The beauty of Dolcetto, according to Giuseppe, is that it can be a difficult teenager so you have to give it extra love.  It needs a good vineyard in order to blossom and needs to be smelled and tasted regularly in the cellar.  It is a reductive wine and has to be racked two to three times more than Barbera.  It is truly a high maintenance wine.  This wine exhibited cherry and blueberry notes which carried through to the palate.  It paired beautifully with the meal which served to extend and expand the weight and reach of the wine on the palate and in the finish.

The Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 DOC was Giuseppe's favorite of the wines we were tasting at lunch.  The wine was made from grapes sourced from young vineyards.  It is not yet focused but its potential is apparent.  Giuseppe described it as ethereal and a perfect pairing for cheeses.  Florality and spicy cherry notes with proto-Barolo tannins and power accompanying a long finish.

The final wine tasted at lunch was a 2008 Barolo Alba, a gentler and more approachable style of Barolo.

At the conclusion of lunch, we embarked on a truffle hunt in the forest adjoining the restaurant and, following that, travelled to the Vajra facilities for a winery tour and taste-through of the remaining wines in the portfolio.

Upon our disembarkation at the winery, we were greeted by Aldo and Milena.  In describing his philosophy, Aldo indicated that he sees the winemaker's task as deriving the greatest harmony possible from the factors at his disposal: terroir; diversity and complexity of soil; and grapes (each variety bringing its own characteristics).  He expressed that being able to interact with customers was a gift and that his greatest disappointment is not knowing each and every pwerson who drinks his wine.  Post our conversation with his parents, Giuseppe referred to his Dad as the creative mind in the business and his Mom as the support structure.

As we toured the facility we learned that Vajra had gained the first organic certification in Barolo in 1971 but had stepped back from that arena in the 1990s.  They farm all of their own vineyards and practice green harvesting in order to ensure high quality in the surviving grapes.  A first sort of the grapes is conducted in the vineyard at harvest.  A table has been placed between the crusher and destemmer in order to allow a sorting for stems and minimal stem effects in the wine.  Top quality grapes make it into the top wines while second level red grapes are bottled as Langhe Rosso.  WInes are subjected to long periods of maceration in stainless steel tanks.

Upon completion of the tour we repaired to the tasting room to complete our immersion in the Vajra wines.  The first wine up was the 2011 Dolcetto d'Alba.  This was the current release of the wine tasted earlier in the day and had similar characteristics.  Grapes for this wine were sourced from southern exposures in the Costa di Vergne and Fossati vineyards.

The 2009 Barbera d'Alba Superiore was sourced from the Bricco delle Viole vineyards blended with grapes from the Bric Bertoni vineyard in Serralunga d'Alba. The wine was macerated for 35 days and then spent 2 years in large casks prior to bottling.  The 2009 vintage in the Langhe resulted in richer wines and this wine was no exception.  It had great aromatic strength with cherries and blueberries dominant.  Minerality and acidity on the palate preceding a spicy, medium-long finish.

The 2008 Barolo Bricco delle Viole exhibits violet florality, rusticity, iron, orange zest, and sweet tobacco on the nose.  Tannic on the palate but elegance shines through.

Cerretta is an up-and-coming, clay-limestone vineyard in Serralunga d'Alba from which 300 cases of the Barolo Cerretta is produced.  This 0.8 ha vineyard was originally planted in 1970 and lies on Serralunga d'Alba's eastern slope.  These wines are fermented partially in oak and partially in stainless steel and are aged in Slavonian casks for 36 months.  The 2008 Barolo Cerretta exhibited violets, cocoa, tar, mint, and chocolate on the nose.  On the palate, depth, complexity, and a long finish.  The 2008 Barolo Baudana, drawn from another famed Baudana cru, is also grown on limestone soils.  This wine had a rustic minerality, violet, tomato, dried tobacco leaf, leather, and sweet tobacco on the nose and elegance on the palate.

All in all a wonderful day.  Giuseppe was a wonderful host and teacher all day and it was a pleasure to observe the lovingkindness that suffuses the entire family as they work towards their objectives.  Wonderful wines.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme