Barolo and Barbaresco
Let us bask in the pleasures of tasting Barolo and Barbaresco. For many, these two storied regions represent the pinnacle of Italian wine, taking Nebbiolo to great heights with powerful wines that age positively for decades and make a case for this grape as one of the world's most delicious. The vineyards of Barolo and Barbaresco spread out over large steep hills, the various contours of which have been studied and differentiated, named and mapped, celebrated and canonized. As in other historic wine regions, the crus of Barolo and Barbaresco have great significance, and concepts of terroir run deep here.
Oddero Barolo 2015
In the past, Barolo would have always been a blend. The idea of bottling single crus is relatively new, with the practice only becoming widespread in the late 20th century. A blend is reliable, maximizing the potential of an estate to make the best out of any vintage, and though single-cru wines can be much the rage, some of the most sought after wines of Barolo are still blends. Oddero's Barolo classico comes mainly from two vineyards: Bricco Chiesa, in La Morra, and Bricco Fiasco, in Castiglione Falletto. Small amounts of other vineyards make it into the blend, and when some of the more important crus don't make the cut for solo bottling, they will also be added. Oddero is known for a traditional style of Barolo with firm tannins, but their 2015 Barolo is incredibly easy to drink at four years of age. Bright, fresh and elegant, it has young grippy tannins, but its fruit and acid are on point, making every sip beg for another. This will age beautifully for many years (a decade or two in a cold cellar), but it is also an easy choice to drink today.
Brovia Barolo 'Unio' 2014
Brovia usually makes five Barolos. In 2014 they made one. It was a cold and rainy vintage in Barolo, and the commune of Castiglione Falletto, where Brovia's holdings are centered, was hit hard by hail. Quantity was necessarily compromised, but the quality of the 2014 vintage could be saved. With their single 2014 Barolo, Unio, Brovia blended two crus, though they would not reveal which, not wanting to color the world's opinion of their individual crus and their inherent virtues. The resulting wine is an elegant masterpiece. It will be a real treat to try this rare bird.
Cantina del Pino Barbaresco 2015
Many of you know Cantina del Pino's amazing Dolcetto; one of the best under $20 wines you'll ever find; based on how good it is and how much is made, it should really be $20+; you guys love it and it is a staple at Craft and Cru. Though their Dolcetto is super fab, the real glory of Cantina del Pino is in their Barbaresco wines. With a balanced and even style, Renato Vacca crafts pure fruit-driven wines that represent some of the very best in the region. Since their first vintage, 1997, his wines have won him plaudits, and it seems like every year they get just a little bit better. The 2015 vintage was quite sunny and warm, and this Barbaresco, a blend of the Albesani, Gallina, Ovello, and Starderi crus, is primary and young, yet open-knit and resonant. It will age beautifully for at least another 10 years, but it's ready to go today. More supple and juicy than the Oddero Barolo, this is a very friendly introduction to seriously structured Nebbiolo.
Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello 2014
This is the estate's best wine. Cantina del Pino has significant holdings in Ovello, which is really more of a district than a cru, encompassing a large hill with expositions every direction, but Renato always uses the same tiny south-facing sliver of hillside (hardly any of Ovello faces south) for his Ovello bottling. The 2014 vintage in Barbaresco was, unlike in Barolo, a resounding success. The season was not without its challenges but Barbaresco got much less rain than Barolo, and they had no hail. The best 2014 Barbarescos are incredibly aromatic and fresh, representing the unique qualities of a cool growing season. This wine was tightly wound last year, showing just a glimpse of its potential. Decant this wine before drinking, as it will definitely benefit from some air.