Tunnel Vision

Greetings from Piemonte! I’m here as a guest for Nebbiolo Prima, a tasting of new releases from Barolo, Barbaresco and the Roero, happening next week. I’ve wanted to attend this tasting for the last several years but because of publishing schedules I couldn’t get away. Now that I’m more of a free agent, well, I just had to make this one a priority.

For these few days before the tasting, however, I’ll be visiting producers and generally getting into trouble. Stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, some crappy iphone photos from yesterday’s jet-lagged haze. I forgot the cable for my digital camera, so you’ll have to content yourself with the phone pics… sorry!

To transfer to the short-jump European flights at the Frankfurt airport, you need to pass through this underground tunnel. Early in the morning after a transatlantic flight.

La Morra overlook. It’s a little rainy here these days.

Castello di Verduno’s delightful 2008 Pelaverga with carne cruda.

Giuseppe Rinaldi’s awesome 2008 Barbera d’Alba and a couple plates of tajarin to take the edge off after a long flight.

Wine Blogging Wednesday: Piemonte

(For background on Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted this time by David McDuff, go here)

I’ve not done one of these before but since it’s about a quarter to midnight on the west coast–and thus just under deadline–what the hell? At the moment I’ve got a raging fire to my left and a glass of riesling in my hand. But this post isn’t about that wine, but instead the 1999 Barolo Massara from Castello di Verduno, a traditionally-minded producer located in the commune of Verduno at the northern end of the Barolo appellation, just before the Langhe hills stop at the Tanaro river.

Massara is a relatively young cru of nebbiolo, planted in the late 80s and early 90s in calcareous sand and limestone laden clay common to this Barolo subregion. Nebbiolo from here is often more approachable at an earlier age than say, Serralunga or Monforte, although we’re not talking about lightly structured wines. This is drinking well now, and you can get it for the relatively inexpensive price of around $40 at Arlequin Wine Merchant in San Francisco (about the only place in the US to carry this wine, or at least this vintage).

massara(Silly me, that’s the label for the ’01 vintage…)

Anyway, a tasting note: Aromatic, with notes of dried rose and cherry, this feels fine and elegant on the palate, with a lasting stony quality. It finishes bright and firm, the structure there for another 4 or 5 years in the cellar. Although it kicked ass with fresh potato gnocchi (gotta love my new potato ricer) topped with a wild mushroom ragù. Yum.

Arlequin has more of this by the way…