The 2008 Alba Wines Exhibition is a rare "ticket." The member
winemakers invite a bunch of wine writers from Italy and elsewhere and a small
group of wine merchants is allowed to participate, as well.
It is an honor to take part in these tastings.
This year the tastings featured the 2005 releases from the Roero and Barbaresco
appellations, along with Barolo wines from the 2004 vintage.
In addition, special educational seminars and informal tastings were arranged
and we kept busy most days from sunrise to well after sunset!
With the rather "friendly" 2005 vintage and the more classic, firm
2004s to evaluate, I am a bit torn with respect to posting tasting evaluations.
So many of the wines showed well. The "problem," if you want to
label it problematic, is that many wines are recently-bottled. Not knowing
precisely when each sample was bottled adds to the difficulty in really
assessing the wines.
I've attempted to evaluate them, but please realize these are rudimentary
tasting notes made while the wines are in the "nursery."
Actually determining which ones are going to be "cum laude,"
"magna (or magnum) cum laude" and "summa cum
laude" is nearly impossible at this stage.
There is a combination of factors contributing to the (good) qualities of these
First, favorable weather conditions means winemakers have fewer obstacles to
overcome in producing a good wine.
Secondly, the current generation of winemakers in the Langhe has its doors
"open." Producers fraternize with each other far more than did
earlier generations who viewed their neighbors as
"competitors." Even at the 'informal' tastings I attended,
I saw winemakers tasting the wines of other vintners...a very healthy concept!
Thirdly, the region has become rather prosperous over the past decade, or so,
and wineries have made significant investments in their vineyard work as well as
in the cellar.
I've highlighted wines which I felt were really good and of interest. My
notes are not complete, as I've not mentioned wines which, for a variety of
reasons, were not showing well or were not to my taste.
Perhaps we had an "off" bottle of something? Perhaps some wines,
having been recently bottled, were not especially expressive (rather like when
you have your picture taken and your eyes are closed...that's not how you are
most of the time, but that's how you were when the camera snapped the
photo). Perhaps a particular wine was simply in the shadows of others...
ROERO The region north of Alba and west of the
Roero reds are usually comprised of Nebbiolo grapes, but the law does
permit a tiny percentage of the white grape, Arneis or a very minor
amount of other "local" red grapes.
The normal bottlings of Roero red must be 20 months old and have spent,
at least, 6 months in wood. For the Riserva designation, the wines
still must spend 6 months in wood as a minimum and they can only be
released when they're 30 months of age.
One winemaker told me
"We're the Sonoma region of the area...Barolo and Barbaresco:
The wines of the Roero come from sandier soils than those found in
"Napa," so the wines have a slightly different
structure. Many, though, have a moderate amount of tannin, but as
a group, they don't seem to have the longevity of many Barolo wines.
My Top Wines of
the 2005 Vintage
(Keep in mind, we tasted only a relative few of the wines made in
Roero...many producers did not submit wines this year.)
3 stars is tops, with one star being quite good and two stars being very
good. The descriptors give you an idea of what to expect from the
wine presently, while the stars are a purely personal notation of my
appreciation for each wine.
I only included wines with some level of "excitement," so I
did not post notes from wines which had "no stars."
MASSUCCO 2005 Roero
Medium garnet in color, this shows a
typical Nebbiolo perfume with notes of cherry-like fruit.
Dry. Medium tannins suggest cellaring 5-10 years.
PONCHIONE 2005 Roero Monfrini
Fans of oak will find this to be a
favorite. I felt it had more wood than you can shake a stick at,
so-to-speak. Lots of oak, spice and cinnamon and nutmeg tones here
and the flavors follow. The Nebbiolo character is quite subdued at
this stage. Will it evolve into something more recognizable from a
varietal standpoint? Only time till tell.
BUGANZA (Renato) 2005 Roero Gerbole
Medium garnet in color, this shows a hint
of resin with eucalyptus-like tones. Bright cherry notes of the
Nebbiolo show nicely, though. I like the intensity and vitality of
this wine. It's got good cellaring potential and a nice spice
element on the finish.
GIOVANNI ALMONDO 2005 Roero
Nicely woodsy on the nose, this is a
medium-bodied, mildly tannic Roero wine. It's certainly modern and
bright on the nose and palate with cherryish fruit and some oak.
There's a hint of earthiness but this is overshadowed a bit by the
ANGELO NEGRO 2005 Roero Prachiosso
This is a very pretty and charming
rendition of Roero. The color is medium garnet and the aromas
deeply cherryish along with notes of other red berries. The wine is
mildly tannic and well-balanced. Very pretty.
CASCINA VAL DEL PRETE 2005 Roero
Here's a mildly woodsy Roero, quite typical
of the Val del Prete winery. Wild berries and oak on the nose with
a hint of leather and cedar on the palate. Mildly tannic, there
seems to be sufficient fruit to balance the astringency here.
It's unfortunate that we did not have a greater number of
Roero wines represented this year.