The WING Tutored Tasting subject for August is Barbaresco.

Barbaresco is a small wine area to the North East of Alba, in Piedmont Italy. The wine that bears the Barbaresco name is made exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape, like it more famous neighbour (to the South West of Alba) Barolo. Other grapes are planted in the area, but they can only bear the names of Langhe or Alba. Barbaresco has about 685 hectares of Nebbiolo under vine split between communes of Barbaresco itself, Nieve, Treiso and part of Alba itself called “San Rocco”. Altogether the Denominazione produces 4.24m bottles – the area and production are just over a third of what Barolo produces…
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Barbaresco has a reputation as slightly softer, earlier maturing, more consistent and “warmer” than Barolo – though without some of the elegance at the very extreme top end. Certainly the physical impression from a visit to the area seems to show a slightly more consistent southerly aspect in the vineyards. Two or three other factors are often cited as contributing slightly “easier” style, these are:
*    A slight warmth factor by being so close to the River Tannaro, a factor shared in Barolo by the communes of Barolo itself and La Morra; communes that are often thought to be the closest to Barbaresco in style of all the (11) Barolo communes;
*    A soil type for both areas is calcerous white marl with viens of clay, however much of the South East three-quarters of Barolo has a sandstone element (again, coincidentally missing in La Morra and Barolo itself) which hardens the wine slightly;
*    Finally, the soil in Barbaresco has slightly more nutrient rich soils, and tannins are therefore slightly reduced.
Which, if any, of these is persuasive in explaining the perceptible difference in the wines is up to you. Suffice to say that the greater fruitiness and quicker-softening (if not less?) tannins is appreciable. So too are a relatively higher consistency and lower prices.

Barbaresco only has to age for 2 years rather than the 3 years for Barolo, however many growers decide for themselves to age more than the minimum (wines 3 and 4 below had 22 months in 3,000 litre Slovenian oak Botti, followed by 9 months in bottle before release). Expected flavours are “floral, wild berry and mineral notes and earthy hints with a full bodied but elegant structure”, and famously: “Tar & Roses”!

On Monday 11th August we tasted 6 examples – 3 are pictured.
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Here are some notes about the wines. These are a composite, common denominator, notes from comments by Rob, John, Ann, Yvonne and myself – which (in the main) seemed to have pretty close agreement:

Barbaresco Corsini 2011 (Araldica)
Pale, thin in colour – nose closed with hints of raspberry/cherry. Palate is tannic but overwhelmingly lean acidic though with jammy fruity tones. Quite forward, generic and one-dimensional.

Barbaresco 2008 (Produttori del Barbaresco)
Deep Cherry red – slightly fruity perfume, hints of violets and tar. Palate has lots of tannin and acidity together. Liquorice and earthy hints on the palate, richness rather than less tannin makes it softer than first wine. Still young and tight and a little thick – softens a little with time showing cherry and length – but much too young.

The final four wines are from a small Treiso winery – Ada Nada, which  has 9 hectares, about half planted with Nebbiolo. The make a generic sub-zone wine: “Valeriano”. But these two special cuvees: Cichin” from their best site, with later picking, longer maturation and aging. “Elisa” from a small parcel in the neighbouring Rombone sub-zone, from 40 year old vines. They make one 3,000 litre, Slovenian Oak Botti of each so there are 4,000 bottles made, they are £22 or £23 at the vineyard.

Barbaresco Cichin 2007 (Ada Nada)
Darker with pale rim, drainy then liquorice, and a sharp, rustic quality. Dry – with big, chunky mineral acids and grainy, tarry tannins – but with quite a lot of dark fruits coming through.

Barbaresco Cichin 2006 (Ada Nada)
Garnet, paler rim – fruity, dusty warm nose with hints of “tar and roses” (really for the first time). Palate has (relatively) softer acid and tannin but well integrated, complex and more elegant – cherry cough-drop flavours, some mineral / soil notes and a subtle long velvety finish – very good.

Barbaresco Elisa 2008 (Ada Nada)
Dark with pale rim – some cherry fruit and violets at first but seemed to close down – tannic, sharp, tarry creosote and volatile warmth, mineral hints. Later seems to integrate and open with more floral elements, length and fruit-acid. Probably needs another 2 years.
May be in a dumb period, because two years ago I had this as “Fragrant, violet nose sensuous but powerful palate with dark fruit and chocolate notes – good”.

Barbaresco Elisa 2005 (Ada Nada)
Deep and dark with a pale rim. Big non-fruity nose: liqourice quite closed with some wispy herb/mint/eucalyptus and violet and lily notes. Palate tannic and sharp with a dry dusty quality  then opens with more sweet fruit more velvety length! Similar to the 2008 but bigger and more complex – maybe near its peak?

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