Barolo and Barbaresco. Two of the best from Italy’s Piemonte

Barolo and Barbaresco. Two of the best from Italy’s Piemonte. 

“In a world where wines are generally produced using the same grapes, the same technology, the same additives, the same oak for ageing and above all the same wine makers, our aim is to obtain a wine which is the expression of the vineyard it comes from, of the grapes it is made of, and above all of our own ideas.” So say Ascheri on their website. The result, in this case at least, is excellent.

The DO is in the Piemonte, not too far from Turin and a next door neighbour to the Barbaresco. Since its earliest days Barolo is referred to as “the king of wines and the wine of kings”, the red wines of the area having been developed by various noble families. Counts (including di Cavour, a leader of the Italian unification movement) and Vittoria Emanuele II (the first king of a unified Italy) were among those associated with the area.

Speaking of unity, I am reminded that there are differences in Barolo bottles. Those from the northern side where the soil is softer tend to to be smoother, less tannic, and more approachable.  From the south and its slightly older soil, you'll find the wines are a little bit more "muscle'y", more spicy, a bit more structured. Besides, there is a traditional approach (buy to lay down) and a modern approach (buy to drink soon) and each has its passionate devotees here.

But back to the matter in hand. Mid to light ruby, close to the normal Pinot Noir colour. Beautiful aromas, light fruit, sweet and floral notes. Soft and round on the palate, elegant rounded fruit flavours. There an overall harmony here, an amicable unity of flavour tannin and a refined power, with a gentle lingering finish.  Complex, soft and round, this 100% Nebbiolo is Very Highly Recommended. "Good Barolo," according to the World Atlas of Wine, "is arguably the world's most uncompromising wine.. ."

Try this “classic of the wine world” with Fillet Steak, Pork, Rib-Eye Steak, Roast lamb/beef. Perhaps with one of those wild mushroom risottos recommended for the Barbaresco. Best served at 14°/16°C.

As you may know by now, I usually keep an eye on the sales and offers for wine and was glad to get this for 24.95 in the O’Briens pre Christmas Fine Wine Sale. The Nebbiolo vines are grown on steep hillsides and all grapes are picked by hand. The wine is aged for 12 months in steel tanks, 24 months in large oak barrels (70% old, 30% new).

You may come across, most likely in Italy, a Barolo Chinato; this is an aromatised wine made from a base of Barolo wine and usually drank as a digestif.

Barbaresco Pora Riserva 2011 (DOCG), 14.5%

Only in the very good vintages, the best grapes from historical crus (single vineyards) of the Barbaresco appellation are vinified separately. They are released after four years of ageing, as Riserva. It is bottled by “one of the best cooperatives in Europe” (according to The Modern History of Italian Wine), a cooperative founded in 1958 by Fiorini Marengo “to give dignity to a depressed area”. Now the famous wine brings dignity to the table. And indeed, it is referred to as "the wine of queens".

The proud past of Barbaresco and the dedication of its creators have made the Produttori one of the greatest producers in a great wine-producing area; it... ”continues to set some of the highest standards of wine making for any cooperative in the world”. (Robert M. Parker, Jr.; The Wine Advocate, 2-28-90). “Textbook Barbaresco made in traditional style” according to Vino Italiano.
Colour is mid-ruby. Sweet ripe fruit aromas. Sweet cherry and plum and a wash of spice flows across the palate. Smooth, with a medium body, with pliant tannins, this harmonious wine, somewhat lighter and brighter on the palate than its neighbour, is quite exquisite with a long and pleasurable finish. Good acidity also and that helps it go well with the rich food (best described as forestale, according to Vino Italiano) that local restaurants serve: wild mushroom risottos, golden Toma cheeses, all sorts of chestnut and hazelnut torte. Very Highly Recommended.

A quick check on the internet showed that you can buy the Pora for €68.33 (for the 2014) at Millesima; my 2011 was bought at the 2019 Karwig Wine closing down sale for much less. Production in 2011 was 16,666 bottles, and this bottle is numbered 4877. The DOCG, in the Piemonte, is not too far from Turin.

In great vintages, nine single-vineyard Barbarescos are produced from nine classic premium sites within the Barbaresco village boundaries: Rabaja, Asili, Montestefano, Pora, Ovello, Rio Sordo, Montefico, Moccagatta and Pajè.
These are the geographical names of sites where Nebbiolo grapes have always been cultivated. The names of the single-vineyards, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyards are marked on the labels.

The current edition of the prestigious World Atlas of Wine also has high regard for the Produttori, naming it in a handful of "outstanding producers in Barbaresco today". It also tells us that Nebbiolo finds its "most dazzling expression... in the Barbaresco zone .. and around the village of Barolo".