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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Nebbiolos - July 31, 2013

Ramping up to this week's NEB4 festival in Paso, We tasted last night (7/31/13) Some Nebbiolos:

  1. Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio DOC: Coste della Sesia Rosso (13.5%; 65% Nebbiolo/20% Vespolina/
    15% Croatina) vigneti de Marchi/Lesona 2007
    : Med.color; lovely fragrant lilacs/floral/Nebb/celery seed bit plummy/tarry/licorice quite aromatic nose; rather tart/lean/acidic somewhat bitey/tannic strong floral/ lilacs/Nebb/violets bit pungent/tarryslight plummy/licorice slightly thin/astringent flavor; long rather hard/ tannic/bitey slight pungent/tarry strong floral/lilacs/violets/Nebb/rose petal ratherr lean/hard flavor; speaks mostly of Nebb but the others add a richer plummy character; terrific Nebb for the price. $34.00 (AV)
  2. Proprieta Sperino DOC: Lessona (100% Nebbiolo; 13.5%; GiulianaImports/Boulder) 2007: Med.dark color; bit closed more road tar/pungent light floral/lilacs/violets/Nebb/rose petal rather elegant/delicate/
    ethereal beautiful nose; less acidic rather hard/bitey/tannic light tarry/pungent rather delicate floral/
    lilacs/rose petal/Nebb flavor; very long delicate/elegant some hard/bitey/tannic elegant/floral/lilacs/
    violets some road tar/pungent finish; quite a bit of somewhat bitey tannins buut not as hard/ astringent/ agressive as the Uvaggio; a rather soaring/delicate expression of pure Nebbiolo; bit pricey at $63.00 (AV)
  3. TenuteSella Casteltorto DOC: Coste della Sesia (13%; 60% Nebbiolo/35% Croatina/5% Vespolina)
    Bramaterra/Lesona OliverMcCrum 2009
    : Med.dark color; rather pungent/tarry/road tar/smokey some cracked black pepper light herbal/rosemary/mushroomy/truffly light floral/Nebb slight lush/plummy very
    attractive nose; bit tart/acidic slight bitey/lean/tannic somewhat mushroomy/truffly/herbal/rosemary/
    spicy slight tarry/plummy/floral/Nebb/lilacs lovely flavor; long pungent/truffle/mushroomy/earthy some
    herbal/rosemary/cracked black pepper light floral/lilacs very interesting complex finish w/ slight
    acidic/tannic bite in the aftertaste; not nearly as tannic & hard as the two Proprietas; reminds a bit
    of an ElDorado Syrah in character; an excellent AltoPiedmontese blend at a great price. $28.00 (SWC)
  4. Vietti DOCG: Barbaresco Masseria (14%; 5,000 Bottiglie/80 Magnum; U) 2005: Dark color; beautiful
    fragrant/perfumed high-toned/floral/lilacs/violets very slight road tar very spicy nose; bit acidic/
    tart rather hard/bitey/tannic very high-toned/floral/lilacs/violets slight tarry some lush/ripe/spicy
    flavor; very long/lingering very high-toned/spicy/floral/lilacs/violets slight tarry some lush finish
    w/ hard/ripe/astringent tannins; plenty of tannins but more rich/round than lean/bitey; needs 5-15 yrs;
    beautiful Nebb w/ amazing aromatics; renews my faith in B/B; alas the price. $99.00 (AV)
  5. Ar.Pe.Pe Sassella VignaRegina DOCG: ValtellineSuperiore Riserva (13%) Sondrio 2001: Med.light cherry color w/ slight bricking; beautiful fragrant/aromatic high-toned/floral/lilacs/violets/rose petal/very
    spicy some granitic/mineral/graphite slight earthy amazingly perfumed nose; softer less acid rich
    high-toned/floral/lilacs/Nebb some graphite/mineral/granitic very spicy delicate/elegant almost
    Pinotish complex flavor; very long/lingering light/delcate/elegant very floral/violets/lilacs/rose
    petal very slight tarry/pungent complex finish w/ slight tannic bite far in the backtaste; a spectacular
    expression of Nebbiolo; exactly why the variety incites such passions. $113.00 (BWM)
  6. IlGroppello DOC: GardaClassico Groppello (12.5%; www.AziendaAgricolaSanGiovanni.It) Raffa del Garda 2010: Dark color; strong plummy/licorice/black cherry almost Mourv-like some earthy/mushroomy/ loamy/ContraCosta lovely nose a bit like a Refosco or LaCrima di Morra d'Alba; soft/lush/rich/ripe strong
    plummy/licorice/black cherry bit earthy/mushroomy/loamy flavor w/light soft/round tannins; long ripe/
    lush/plummy/black cherry/licorice/Mourv-like some mushroomy/loamy/earthy finish w/ modest soft tannins;
    some like a ContraCosta Mourv, some like a LaCrima di Morra d'Alba; delicious red at a very good price.
    $25.00 (BWM)
  7. Harrington Nebbiolo 60% AJBVnyd/40% LunaMataVnyd/PasoRobles (14.1%) 2009: Med.light color; rather ripe/lush/bit jammy/Paso lovely black cherry/plummy/spicy some floral/lilacs/Nebb strong fruit lovely nose; soft ripe/bit jammy strong black cherry/plummy/cherry pie very spicy light Nebb/floral/lilacs light oak
    flavor w/ modest tannins; soft/ripe/lush strong black cherry/black cherry cola/plummy/spicy slight Nebb/
    floral/lilacs finish w/ modest tannins; speaks strongly of a very good PasoRobles red on the more
    elegant side and only whispers of Nebbiolo. $30.00
  8. Harrington Nebbiolo 60% AJBVnyd/40% LunaMataVnyd/PasoRobles (14.1%) 2010: Med.light color; much more elegant/delicate/Pinotish some black cherry/cola strong floral/lilacs/Nebb lovely nose w/ more varietal Nebb character than the '09; bit tarter/harder/tannic/angular rather Pinotish/black cherry/cola some floral/lilacs/Nebb complex flavor w/ some hard tannins; very long Pinotish/black cherry/cherry pie/ cola some floral/lilacs/violets/Nebb finish w/ somewhat harder tannins; speaks more of Nebb and less
    of ripe PasoRobles red; a lovely Nebb rather lightesh/delicate Pinotish in style. $30.00
  9. Harrington Calif RW (14.2%; 1 brl Teroldego/Lagrein/Charbono + 1 brl PinotNoir) 2011: Very dark/near black color; very strong plummy/licorice/black cherry/DrPepper/very spicy bit herbal/rosemary/ thyme some toasty/oak slight earthy nose a bit like a Foradori Teroldego or a Friuli Refosco; soft/lush/
    ripe very spicy/licorice/plummy/black cherry/DrPepper some spicy/thyme/rosemary slight toasty/oak
    slight earthy finish w/ some smooth/round tannins; very long light toasty/oak lush/ripe plummy/ licorice/ black cherry/cola/DrPepper slighht earthy finish w/ light smooth tannins; a very/very interesting blend some like a Foradori Teroldego w/o the hard/earthy character and a bit like lush/ripe Friuli Refosco; fairly drinkable and very well-priced at $25.00
  10. WindRoseCllrs Nebbiolo 24K Vnyd/WahlukeSlope (15% Barbera; 85 cs; www.WindRoseCellars.com; 14.2%) DavidVolmut/Grandview 2009: Light some orange Nebb color; low-key/delicate floral/Nebb/ lilacs some mineral/graphite/smokey rather strong spicy/minty/black cherry/plummy lovely/unusual nose; soft light floral/lilacs/Nebb bit smokey/mineral/graphite rather lush minty/black cherry/plummy flavor
    w/ slight tannic bite; very long/lingering some floral/lilacs/Nebb ripe/lush/black cherry/framboise
    finish w/ some hard/bitey tannins; needs 4-8 yrs; speaks quietly of Nebb/floral and almost a RRV
    Pinot/black cherry character; quite an unusual & pretty rendition of Nebb. $30.00 (vSC)
  11. WindGap Nebbiolo GlenRose&LunaMata vnyds/PasoRobles (275 cs; 14.2%; #2582) PaxMahle/Forestville 2006: Med.color w/ slight orange/brick overtones; light floral/violets/rose petal somewhat Rhonish/smokey/roasted/pungent slight road tar/pungent bit earthy quite interesting/ atypical nose; rather hard/tannic/austere light tarry/pungent somewhat roasted/Rhonish/ smokey/pungent very light floral/lilacs/violetsrose petal/cranberry flavor; very long lightfloral/violets/rose petal/cranberry somewhat hard/tannic/austere rather roasted/Rhonish/smokey/pungent finish; seems to show mostly whole-cluster ferment and whispers of Nebb floral character; very unusual rendition of Nebb but quite interesting; reminds a bit of a Gattinara from the early 2000's. $36.00

And more inane ramblings from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. This is one of the best tastings of Nebbiolos that I've ever had. Probably because there was only
one Barbaresco included. And it was magnificant. I liken drinking Nebbiolo from B/B to stuffing violet
petals up one nostril, lilac petals up the other nostril, sealing both nostrils w/ a plug of hot road tar, sticking your tongue out between the jaws of a vice and torqueing that sucker down; there are some
pleasurable things involved... but there's also a lot of pain involved.
2. Groppello: There are several distinct grape varieties in Italy that go under the name Groppello. The
one around LakeGarda is known as Groppello di Mocasina. As usual, RobTebeau has a good rundown:

I've had two other Groppello. This one was easily the best. It reminded me a lot of good Refosco or
LaCrima di Morra d'Alba from it's plummy black cherry character. They should be planting this all
up&down the coast of Calif.
3. Nebbiolo&Terroir: It's been stated that Nebbiolo is the grape variety that displays its terroir more
than any other grape variety. NoNoNoNo insist the Burgundy-lovers, it's obviously PinotNoir that
expresses terroir best. Not sure I have the definitive answer, but I lean towards the Nebbiolo camp.
The diversity that Nebbiolo displays in Italy and in Calif is one of the things that makes the variety so interesting. I find it fascinating that many of the Calif winemakers who are interested in Nebbiolo are already making fine PinotNoir.

The big problem is to get folks to try US Nebbiolo with an open mind. Many folks will try a US Nebbiolo and find it lacking...it doesn't taste like Langhe Nebbiolo. Well....doh....there's no friggin' reason that it should...no more than Valtelline Nebbiolo tastes like Langhe Nebbiolo. For those folks, they should remain in their tiny little boxes and drink only Langhe Nebbiolo till the cows come home (Kansas colloquialism for "forever"). But I think the real potential for growth in the US Nebbiolo market is open-minded wine drinkers of Calif/WashState wines that try them and find something unique. Just like everyone from Atlanta doesn't speak w/ a Southern drawl; there is no reason that Nebbiolo can't speak in a different voice from Langhe or Valtelline Nebbiolo.

I thought all of these Calif/WashState Nebbs were as good as any I've had. They all spoke of Nebb varietal character..some w/ different voices than others. It's certainly not clear what PasoRobles Nebbiolo is "supposed" to taste like and those who worship at the altar of varietal typicity or the altar of terrior are likely to find hese US versions wanting...but I thought they were all danged fine wines. End of rant.
4. WashStateNebb: Way back when, PeterDow made the first WashState Nebbiolos. I did a visit w/ him early on at CafeJuanita where he made the wine. They were quite good and reminded me much of some of the Valtelline Sfursats. The wines were pretty big, fair amount of oak. Alas, never had an older one. I understand he no longer makes Nebbiolo. Cavatappi was the label. Just noticed a Cavatappi Nebbiolo Grappa at a local wine shop this weekend.

This WindRose of DavidVolmut's was the first new WashState Nebb I've tried. Never heard of the 24K vnyd before & not sure where it's located. Again, the Nebbiolo spoke in a voice I'd never heard
before. Definitely Nebbiolo, but a black cherry character that reminded me some of RRV or SRH Pinot.
A pretty big wine, but very well-made.
5. Pelizatti-Perego: I first encountered these wines back in the early '70's, when they were under the ArturoPelizzatti label up at LiquorMart in Boulder. They were wines that made me fall in love with
Nebbiolo, especially those from the Valtelline. The wines sorta disappeared from the market in the
mid-late '70's. About 2-3 yrs ago, I stumbled upon the wines from Ar.Pe.Pe (Arturo Pelizzatti-Perego)
up in Boulder. Not a name I recognized, but I immediately recognized the design of the label as almost exactly the old ArturoPelizzatti. Their WebSite (www.arpepe.com/en/copertina) is worth taking a look.

The vineyards are absolutely spectacular...must be brutal to harvest. I've had some 4-5 of the Ar.Pe.Pe wines since I rediscovered them. They have all been very good to outstanding. This Sassella absolutely blew me away...one of the most spectacular expressions of Nebbiolo I can recall. It had amazing aromatics and flavors that absolutely soared across the palate. I could only think of the TWA overhaul hanger in KansasCity, designed by the great Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, or MosheSafdie's spectacular EwingKauffman PerformingArtsCentre in KansasCity; two of the most spectacular pieces of architecture I know; structures that soar & sweep across the sky like an eagle gracefully seeking its prey. This wine is equally spectacular.
6. Harrington: These are wines made by BryanHarrington in SanFrancisco. WebSite: www.HarringtonWine.com He, like MattRorick/Forlorn-Hope, has an interest in making varietals that are on the obscure side. Alas, many of then are done in miniscule quantities. I think he's doing a particularly good job with Nebbiolo in Calif. And he's still trying to figure out how to make the stuff. Bryan's wines tend to be more on the elegant side of the spectrum. Particularly his Pinots are some of the more refined/elegant Pinots being made in Calif. Yet he hasn't (yet, anyway) become one of the poster childs for the IPOB crowd. But, given the right grapes, he's fully capable of making big/extracted wines that would play well in Monktown...if'n they ever made it there.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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