The ICC group met on Thursday 4th February for a Nebbiolo Tasting. This grape is more geographically centred than any other grape – half of it grown within an area of around 1,000 km2. The tasting bas based on wines from this – Langhe, Barolo, Barbaresco – part of Piemonte.

We tried 3 Barolo, 2 Barbaresco and one Langhe…

Here are my notes:
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE BARBARESCO 2012   –   14 %   –   Sainsbury’s £10
A quiet nose, with slightly meaty notes, the palate is initially sharp and tannic, showing a sweet (too sweet?) plum middle, a relatively short finish. Some Nebbiolo character but a bit simple and a little unsatisfactory.
Ratings: Quality: 12/20     Value: 13.5/20

TERRE DEL BAROLO 2011   –   14½ %   –   Waitrose £19
Quiet nose, showing light young herby hardness with a slightly floral hint as the wine warms. The palate has a tarry graint texture warming and drying but leading to a quite supple velvety finish which has hints of dark brooding fruit. Time could expand that “back” into the body of the palate, earning the wine another half-point. Also Waitrose sometimes discount this by £2 or £3 – earning an extra half value point!
Ratings: Quality: 15/20     Value: 14/20

NEBBIOLO LANGHE G D VAJRA 2013   –   13½ %   –   Wine Society £15
This does have definite floral notes on the nose, although not a specific bloom. Sour fruit – cherry maybe – too. The palate is drying – more though high acidity than tannin – giving a stalky impression. Lighter and less tannic than the other wines but pliant and food-demanding.
Ratings: Quality: 13.5/20     Value: 13.5/20

BAROLO LA FOIA (NADIA CURTO) 2011  –   14½ %   –   Wine Society £22
A quite closed and lean nose, which hints at dark cherry / plum fruit and latter mushroom hints. The palate is thickened rather than dried by the tannins and had real velvet-clad power, with earthy fruit and forest floor – almost claret – hints. Long and rather good.
Ratings: Quality: 16.5/20     Value: 15/20

BARBARESCO “ELISA” 2008 (ADA NADA)   –   14 %   –   Grower £26
This nose is much more open – pungent even: meat, lilies, liquorice, plums. The palate has cherry and plum fruit but a definite tarry body and a slightly bitter-chocolate finish. Very expressive and warmer and more evolved than the previous or succeeding wine. Probably near its best. Bought from the grower the UK price would probably take a point off the value score!
Ratings: Quality: 17.5/20     Value: 15.5/20

BAROLO BUSSIA “DARDI LE ROSE” 2008 (PODERI COLLA)   –   14½ %   –   Stone, Vine & Sun £30
As so many this is another wine with a quite closed nose, despite its age. Very light but definite floral hints. The palate has tar (less than the previous wine) and very savoury porcini mushroom element with a cherry inflected finish. Quite elegant but still some time to go with promise of another half point after another 2 or 3 years…
Ratings: Quality: 17/20     Value: 14.5/20

As we were a few people short at the tasting I vacuum sealed another sample of the two younger, 2011, Barolo and tried them 24 hours later. They each had a much more open nose and showed more integration and smoothness – particularly wine 2. So I would say a couple of years in the cellar, or a two hour decanting, might well earn an extra point (wine 2) or at least half (Wine 4).

A tasting that pretty well indicates you get what you pay for! Although there’s a bit of a cheat as Wine 5 was bought in Italy and current vintage would probably be £40 in UK! The Barolo all had restrained aromas – maybe an effect of ISO glasses, and more likely needing more time. Also wine 4 seemed more evolved – despite being 3 years younger – than Wine 6. Still… the four more expensive offerings of the tasting showed enough to encourage pursuit of the dark power of this esoteric grape.

Until next time…