Piedmont Tasting At WineRoute (May 27, 2007)

I was initially suspicious of this tasting and only signed up for it after I was assured there'd be no dumping, no 2002's. Then I totally forgot about the tasting and when the store rang up to remind me, my first thought was "oh, no". So as it happened, I approached the tasting in a lethargic state of mind. Turned out to be quiter an enjoyable evening, I must admit. No "big" wines, but highly enjoyables wines, charmingly presented by Ms. Hila Ronen Sofer.

Elio Altare, Dolcetto d'Alba, 2004

Jammy fruit on the nose, the jaminess fading away after a few minutes in glass. Despite Hila's claims that the wine was fermented in oak and matured in tank, I picked up a lot of oaky spices on the nose that morphed into toastiness. Bitter on the palate with a mid palate hollowness that fills in a bit after some time. Interesting but not very rewarding. (89 NIS)

Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto d'Alba, Falleto di Serralunga d'Alba, 2005

Much more subtle and Old World than the Elio Altare, with red fruit and leather on the nose. Better balance, structure and acidity than the Elio Altare, longer too, but it stands on its own so well I may be rude for making a comparison. Not a big wine, but very, very nice and sometimes nice is enough. (99 NIS)

Domenico Clerico, Barbera d'Alba, "Trevigne", 2004

This was the second time I've had this wine. The first time was in a private blind tasting and no one guessed it was a Barbera, not even the more experienced Piedmont lovers. It was a similar experience this time, with explosive, highly extracted fruit, though not obnoxiously so, just confusing. Very youthful, with high acidity that needs to calm down. Develops aromatic complexity, with coffee notes. I would wait a year for my bottle. (129 NIS)

La Spinetta, Barbera d'Asti Superiore, Bionzo, 2004

Lots of oak overwhelming the fruit, managing to be both green and dusty. This is the second La Spinetta Barbera that I didn't enjoy but having said that, there is something interesting about the aromatics even with all that oak. Not very appetizing to drink, but interesting to taste. (199 NIS)

Roberto Voerzio, Nebbiollo Langhe, 2004

An elegant wine with a mostly red cherry personality and hints of tea leaves. Ripe acidity, smooth tannins. Still tight but an attractive package that needs a couple of years and should not be overlooked. (195 NIS)

Gaja, Sito Moresco, 2004

This blend of Nebbiolo, Cabernet and Merlot is more or less Gaja's entry level wine. It is, to my palate, a distinct improvement on the only other vintage I've tasted, the 1999. A charming, extroverted nose of smoky red fruit and leather. Quite intese on the palate, if not at the level of a Barolo or Barbaresco. No doubt it will keep several years but it's drinking so well now I wouldn't wait. But as much as I liked it, I prefer the Voerzio for its elegance. (195 NIS)

Albino Rocca, Barbaresco, 2003

Hot vintage or not, this wine is not approachable right now. A grungy monster with a tight, monolithic, earthy nose that hints at high fruit extraction. Very tannic, long and powerful with high acidity. (215 NIS)

Mauro Molino, Barolo, Gancia, 1999

Another tight wine, though a smoother monster this time, with sweetish fruit on the nose. The palate is more generous, with intense flavors and a long finish. Very classy and fairly priced for a single vineyard Barolo. (249 NIS)

Paolo Scavino, Barolo, 2001

Even tighter, about as muscular as the Albino Rocca. Took over 20 minutes in glass to even hint at its potential but getting at whatever lurks within it is beyond me. And it's only the generic Barolo, anything higher up the hierarchy would probably have completely baffled me. (279 NIS)

La Spinetta, Moscato d'Asti, Bricco Quaglia, 2005

A single vineyard Moscato d'Asti, said Hila. Buy me, said the bottle. Fun, fun, fun. (60 NIS for a half bottle)