25 March 2010

Re of sunlight

Bologna “Serra dei Fiore” 2008 Langhe Riesling Renano “Re di Fiore” (Piedmont) – Very ferric, austere, and long. One must like drinking both iron and steel, though. Interesting. (3/10)

Don't be an Asso

Bologna “Serra dei Fiore” 2008 Langhe Chardonnay “Asso di Fiore” (Piedmont) – Peach and citrus rinds. Straightforward. Nice. Hey, it’s only chardonnay, what more do you want? (3/10)

Ed Fiore

Bologna “Serra dei Fiore” 2009 Langhe “Il Fiore” (Piedmont) – Chardonnay and nascetta. Possibly some other grapes; it’s a little unclear amidst the din of a crowded room. Very aromatic – citrus flowers, apples (with skin intact) – and a pleasant hint of fatness. Well-formed. (3/10)

Monella Fitzgerald

Bologna “Braida” 2009 Barbera del Monferrato Frizzante “la Monella” (Piedmont) – Raspberry, apple skin, and needles. Short but fun. The aggressive acidity of barbera is utilized to excellent effect in a wine like this, even if this particular bottle is no more than middle-of-the-road. (3/10)

Luncheon meat

Bologna “Braida” 2008 Barbera d’Asti Montebruna (Piedmont) – Red fruit (mostly raspberry), clean and crisp. Long. Great purity of expression. This is the large Slavonian oak bottling, and it shows. (3/10)

Bacialé ball

Bologna “Braida” 2008 Monferrato Rosso “il Bacialé” (Piedmont) – Barbera with pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. Structured, very young, and completely dominated by dill, green coconut, and oak tannin. Yuck. (3/10)

Been a long time, been an Uccellone, llone, llone, llone, llone time

Bologna “Braida” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Bricco dell’Uccellone (Piedmont) – 15.5% alcohol, but not showing it except in overall size. Big fruit offset by apple and walnut skins. Very spicy. Not at all bad in its style. (3/10)

Bigottoa small

Bologna “Braida” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Bricco della Bigotta (Piedmont) – Big, with an intense core of fruit nearly obscured by layers of spiced coconut and vanilla. Radiates sophistication, but all that polish comes at a very woody price. Anyone have some Pledge? (3/10)

Suma cum (not) Langhe

Bologna “Braida” 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Ai Suma” (Piedmont) – Late-harvest barbera (that is to say, made from grapes that have desiccated on the vine). Dark. Heavy. Licorice-infused fruit, and a lot of it. Very Amarone-like in style, for sure, though the organoleptics are – aside from the licorice – different. I guess if one must have something like this, it’s a good example. (3/10)

Oscar Mayer

Bologna “Braida” 2009 Brachetto d’Acqui (Piedmont) – Pure strawberry, sour cherry, watermelon Jolly Rancher™. Fine acidity balances the light sweetness. Very nice. (3/10)

Making a Liste, checking it twic

Damilano 2005 Barolo Liste (Piedmont) – Roses – a surplus of them – with absolutely brutal tannin. There’s fruit, too: red cherry and strawberry. Also, bark and a cheese rind texture (not the spoilage or refermentation aroma, just a texture). Probably balanced in its idiom, but the twenty or so years likely required to bring the tannin down to something manageable…I just don’t know. I doubt there’s the complexity or fruit persistence to sustain that sort of timeframe. I guess we’ll see. (3/10)

Tippe Cannubi (and Tyler too)

Damilano 2005 Barolo Brunate Cannubi (Piedmont) – Even more muscular than the Cannubi, with a wallop of angular tannin, but better-balanced. Yet again there’s some syrup marking the midpalate, after which it finishes hard. Steroidal, and then dressed in designer duds. Will this ever be drinkable? And why the sheen in the meantime? (3/10)

Cannubi any more annoying?

Damilano 2005 Barolo Cannubi (Piedmont) – Laughing roses and the expected mass of structural tannin. Underneath, however, there’s a swell of New Worldish concentration that pretties this wine up a little more than is good for it. The finish returns to the hard, hard road Barolo often travels. There’s a good wine in here somewhere, but I don’t think it’s been dealt with as well as it might have been. (3/10)

All Aghõghē

Crivelli 2007 Monferrato Rosso “Aghõghē” (Piedmont) – Ruché and syrah. That’s a first for me, I think, and I’m surprised to find that it works. Smooth and leathery, with blueberry and blackberry paired. Micro-bead structure and lingering tannin. Quite long. Muscular but impressive. (3/10)

Crivelli full

Crivelli 2008 Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato (Piedmont) – Living up to ruché’s reputation as “red gewürztraminer” with its lurid aromatics and neon fatness. Cherry, pastille, and exotic weirdness. I wouldn’t want to drink it every night, but I kinda dig it. (3/10)

Crivelli laugh

Crivelli 2009 Grignolino d’Asti (Piedmont) – A brittle shell of a light red wine, with cold tannin encasing sharp acidity. Very severe. (3/10)

The Giai hypothesis

l’Armangia 2009 Moscato d’Asti “Il Giai” (Piedmont) – Very, very flowery. By-the-numbers moscato d’Asti. (3/10)


l’Armangia 2006 Monferrato Rosso “Pacifico” (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo, merlot, freisa, barbera, cabernet sauvignon, cat, ’81 Volvo, and bits of the last 15 prime ministers of Italy. (No, no. I’m just kidding. Send the lawyers home.) Thick and very tannic, with a chewy, leafy structure. Dull. (3/10)

l’Armangia 2007 Monferrato Rosso “Macchiaferro” (Piedmont) – Acidic strawberries. That’s all I’ve written, so there must not be much more than that. (3/10)

Lurëi of sunshine

[asti vineyards]Il Falchetto 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Lurëi (Piedmont) – A dramatic wine, and for a change that drama has been written by the authors Grape and Site, not the infamous ghostwriter Tonnelier. High-toned minerality dominates this wine, which is firmly-structured with graphite-textured tannin and great acidity. “Fruit,” such as it is, is dark and scowl-visaged. Very, very impressive. (3/10)

Fant, um, of the opera

Il Falchetto 2009 Moscato d’Asti “Tenuta del Fant” (Piedmont) – Very fresh, sweet, and pure. Orange and apple blossoms with bright malic acidity (or at least so it seems) and hints of cider. Really fun. (3/10)

Paradiso by the dashboard light

Il Falchetto 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Bricco Paradiso (Piedmont) – Made from three very different sites from which the overall harvest lasts about a month, then given the sort of treatment a winery gives it’s “flagship” wine (that is: well over a year in barrique). Which means we all know what’s coming. Low acidity leaves roundness in its wake, and the tannin is extremely fine-grained. While the fruit is still of a reddish hue, it’s suave and sophisticated in the manner of…well, the name that immediately comes to mind is Gaja, and one may interpret that based on how one feels about that winery. There’s a bit of heat showing its reddened neck, as well. While it’s very good in the modern, “important” style, I don’t like that bit of heat, and I really don’t need yet another wine that tastes like this. (3/10)

Il Falchetto 2003 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Bricco Paradiso (Piedmont) – “Smells like an ‘03” comments a fellow taster. Tastes like one, too. Dense – almost syrupy – but still red-fruited (an achievement of sorts). There’s also heavy tannin that’s not quite ripe, and shows hints of dill and allegations of unresolved powder. Everyone (me included) talks about the heat and overpowering fruit of 2003, but it’s really the chewy, undeveloped, yet massive tannin that’s going to bring to many of these wines to an early demise, not the fact that they’re neutron fruit bombs. The finish is chalky sludge. I suppose this is OK for the vintage, but that’s not exactly high praise. (3/10)

Autumn neighborhood

[barrel + bottle]Il Falchetto 2009 Langhe Arneis (Piedmont) – Very lush fruit in the banana realm, but there’s an edge to it that’s more plantain-like…something greener and less ripe, combined with a textural ripeness that suggests, but does not deliver, an element of tropicality; a sort of Musa equipoise, if you will. Crystalline minerality coalesces over the course of a fairly long finish. Balanced and quite nice, perhaps with the potential to be even more than that. (3/10)

Jim Mora

Il Falchetto 2007 Monferrato Rosso “La Mora” (Piedmont) – A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and barbera. The greenness of the first two grapes (in contrast to barbera, that is) really sticks its neck out here, and not in an unpleasant way. There’s minerality, good acidity – and now we can thank the home team’s grape – and while it’s not all bad given that it’s a blend for which I don’t have much personal use, milk and oak really stew up the finish. (3/10)

24 March 2010

Zenyatta condatta

Paolo Marcarino 2009 Barbera d’Asti “Zeroincondatta” (Piedmont) – A no-added-sulfite barbera, one of the very few in the entire region (that is to say: I don’t personally know of another, but someone might). This is, compared to other barberas of the region – even the pushed-ripeness variety – very violet-purple in color…a color that one often encounters in the absence of sulfur, no matter which grape varieties are employed. There’s also the spiky brittleness expressed alongside a prickle of (pleasant) volatility that seems to come with the genre, and which I’m told derives from the particular sort of semi-carbonic fermentation necessary when working without sulfur. As for the rest: lavish acidity, fruit in the grapey/blueberry-ish range, and fine-grained, overtly crystalline tannin. It’s pretty, but there’s a hint of highly-tinted mascara (think Donna Mills in Knots Landing) to the attractiveness; not that I mean to suggest that the wine’s made-up or artificial, just that there are some showy, lurid aspects to its visage. Acid asserts itself as the finish progresses. I like this a great deal. (3/10)

Naked earth

Paolo Marcarino 2007 Barbera d’Asti Terranuda (pre-release) (Piedmont) – Made from vines planted in the 1920s, and enhanced by the addition of the pressed juice of dried-on-mats grapes; juice that comprises 20% of the finished wine. Post-fermentation, the wine receives its first dose of sulfur and is then put in barriques for one year. As with almost all dried-grape red wines, there’s a noticeable spike of volatile acidity that has a little bit of a slapfight with the dark, dusty aromatics. Despite its lifted beginnings, it’s a clenched fist of a wine, not overly marked by its wood, and delivers a long finish that grows juicier as it lingers. This needs time to expand and develop, obviously, but I think it will be impressive one day. Right now, it’s mostly just big. (3/10)

Dan with a chance of clouds

Paolo Marcarino 2009 Cortese (unfinished sample) (Piedmont) – I don’t know what the appellation for this wine is or will be. It’s still extremely cloudy (cross-flow filtration is in its future), made without the addition of sulfites, and it’s fabulous. It explodes in a burst of flowers and piercing, razor-edged acidity that lashes that palate like a cat o’ nine tails. Eventually, it narrows to a thin wedge of steel. I suspect that, once tamed for commerciality, there will be a little less ordinance here. But it’s fun while it lasts. (3/10)


Paolo Marcarino 2007 Moscato d’Asti “Lucifero” (Piedmont) – Paper scented with mercaptans, and not particularly sweet even within its genre. This reminds me a bit of a Léclapart Champagne, and it also reminds me that I’ve never liked Léclapart Champagne. Orange blossom and some freshly-fired ash contribute to the discussion, but only in monosyllables. Many of my fellow tasters like this, but I do not. (3/10)

Vignali ringwald

l’Armangia 2004 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza “Vignali” (Piedmont) – Huge. Massive fruit layered with chocolate and mint. While this is balanced in its own hulkish way, I challenge someone to slip it into a blind tasting of Napa cabernet/merlot blends and then pick it from the lineup. Maybe the acidity would tell the tale, but I doubt it. (3/10)

Not-so-grand Titon

l’Armangia 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza “Titon” (Piedmont) – Syrupy fruit and alcohol. Were there such an English dessert as “sticky cherry toffee pudding,” this would be the perfect partner. Jam abounds, with infusion-like leaf bitterness on the finish. Very, very dense. (3/10)

Sopra winfrey

l’Armangia 2008 Barbera d’Asti “Sopra Berruti” (Piedmont) – Chocolate and lactic milkiness with only a rough stab at integration. Kinda flat, otherwise. Not very good. (3/10)

l’Armangia 2006 Barbera d’Asti “Sopra Berruti” (Piedmont) – Buttered fruit, dark raspberry jam, and spiky acidity. Alcohol prongs forth as well. The texture is somewhat unfortunate – Nutella and peanut butter – which just adds to the problems. (3/10)

Neon noeN

l’Armangia 2007 Monferrato Sauvignon “EnnEEnnE” (Piedmont) – Yes, yes, everyone has the same question: what does that mean? Roughly, “bastard child,” here a reference to the unusual (for the region) grape variety. Floral aromas, woodsy and a little bit woody as well, though it’s less of a prominent aromatic factor than it is a participant in the muting and restraining of other aromas. Fairly sticky and dense, with some heat evident. The texture is lavish, and without that alcoholic imbalance this could have been a more interesting wine than it ultimately turns out to be. (3/10)


l’Armangia 2008 Piemonte Chardonnay “Pratorotondo” (Piedmont) – 70% stainless steel and 30% wood, sulfured only once at bottling. Shy, lending a brief glimpse of melon and lemon (the latter heavy on the rind) under the shade of an acacia tree. Kinda…eh. (3/10)


Castello di Razzano 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Vigna Valentino Caligaris (Piedmont) – When I was in first grade, I was bitten by a dog. I had a heavily-bandaged and en-casted arm for a time, and I remember the incredible stench of trapped, humidified flesh and slowly-healing scar grunge that exploded forth when the cast was finally removed. Who knew they’d bottled that smell? The thermonuclear fruit device within helps mask the miasma, but not enough. (3/10)

Olmo famous

Costa Olmo 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore (Piedmont) – Dark cherry syrup, hints of licorice. Dead fruit. Dead wine. Dead taster, if I have to suffer many more wines like this. (3/10)

Litinia turner

Castlet 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Litina (Piedmont) – Reminds me of New World pinot, which is at least an appealing improvement over the New World cabernet and New World shiraz I’ve been tasting of late. Pleasant, puppy dog fruit. Strawberries and cream. Breakfast at Wimbledon? Sure, why not? (3/10)

Marescialla cherry

Agostino 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore La Marescialla (Piedmont) – Bored now. Flat, depressed (and depressing) fruit which never goes much of anywhere. (3/10)

Falò you, Falò me

da Vino 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “La Luna e I Falò” (Piedmont) – When I was a kid, I used to mix the bobbing remnants of Count Chocula™ and Frankenberry™ in my breakfast bowl, so as not to waste the yummy sugary fakeness. I survived without becoming a diabetic, to end up here…drinking the exact same thing. (3/10)

Lurëi, lurrah

Il Falchetto 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Lurëi (Piedmont) – Menthol grappa, kirschwasser, and detergent. A world of no. Edited to add: tasted at the winery a few hours later, this will be the best wine I’ll taste all day, so what I’ve written here absolutely must reflect a damaged bottle. Or a damaged taster. Maybe both. (3/10)


Il Falchetto 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Bricco Paradiso (Piedmont) – Mint & rose hip jams, tangy. There’s a chewing gum element here that I can’t quite decide if I like or not. Finishes high-toned and herbal. Some eucalyptus, as well. (3/10)

Rustic flower

dei Fiori 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Rusticardi 1933” (Piedmont) – Chocolate, dark berry, mint, and some earth. Gravelly. A really sophisticated, polished wine with a pretty fair structure. It’s not my style, but still, I have to admit that I kinda like this one. It’s got class. (3/10)


Ivaldi 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “1613” (Piedmont) – Jam and Nutella on toast. Very short. You’d think that if one is going to do this sort of stuff to a poor, defenseless wine, one would at least supply a finish. Then again, maybe that’s a blessing here. (3/10)

Gauche caviar

Araldica “Il Cascinone” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Rive” (Piedmont) – Armpit and crotch. Yes, I just wrote that. No good at all. (3/10)

Araldica “Il Cascinone” 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “d’Annona” (Piedmont) – Stinky feet marinating in barley. And there’s something uncircumcised and unclean about it. Yes, it’s that sort of bad. (3/10)

Little coc

Cocito 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Violanda (Piedmont) – The fetid stank of horrid, diseased wood. Spoiled candy. One of the worst noses in a quality, non-experimental, or homebrew wine I’ve ever experienced. Pure candy on the palate. Pixy Stix are more authentic than this. They taste better, too. (3/10)

Ghersa, nosa

Pastura La Ghersa 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Vignassa (Piedmont) – Dark fruit and – making a reappearance after a long absence – dark soil as well. But it’s all in the service of a chocolate/cherry layer cake. There must be good material here, but it’s being partially obliterated. (3/10)

To give & receive

Castello di Razzano 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Vigna del Beneficio (Piedmont) – Very dark fruit ranging into the cassis realm, with some intrusive brett and spicy wood notes, plus coconut. And chocolate. Again. And again. And again. (3/10)

Muascae love

Pastura La Ghersa 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Muascae” (Piedmont) – Chunky black fruit, good acidity, lots of tannin, dark chocolate. I’m losing my ability to perceive wood or its absence in these wines, so I can’t tell if there’s any here, but the goopy chocolate (a bad thing) never goes away. (3/10)

Little castle

Castlet 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Passum” (Piedmont) – Mint. All mint. Mint tea, mint leaves, dried mint. But nothing other than mint. (3/10)

Altea what

Sant’Agata 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Altea” (Piedmont) – Full-throated fruit crying out for succor in a dark and seedy alleyway. Concentrated. Actually not bad at all, for a fruit bomb. Boom! (3/10)

Sant’Agata 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Cavalè” (Piedmont) – Absolutely identical to the same winery’s “Altea” but with the addition of a pleasant, minty complexity. Very good in this style. (3/10)

Do you Mombercelli like I remember celli?

Cantina Sociale di Mombercelli “Terre Astesane” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore (Piedmont) – Milkshake. Pride-like (the winery, not a group of lions) in that, with blueberry and milky, malted chocolate well-evidenced throughout. So, so anonymous. (3/10)

Sei what?

Cantina Sociale Barbera dei Sei Castelli 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Le Vignole (Piedmont) – Lavish, satiny fruit. Dark and gelatinized. Texturally mouth-coating, but finishes with more of that thick vanilla miasma that’s ruining so many of these wines. (3/10)


Boeri 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Martinette (Piedmont) – Dark, dark, dark…fruit, wood, acorns, leaves, bark, nuts. Is there some salt here, as well? Very odd. Tastes like Barossa shiraz, albeit lighter. (3/10)


Boeri 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Pörlapà” (Piedmont) – Very fruity. It’s black, concentrated fruit, in fact, chunked up by seeds and stones, then slathered with tannin and vanilla. Finishes thoroughly brutalized by its élevage. (3/10)

Sweet Moliss, a

Agostino 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Moliss (Piedmont) – Bark and dill, chewy dark fruit, fine particulate tannin, and graphite. Except for the weirdness on the nose, this could actually be a good – albeit dark – wine. (3/10)

Peter Falk

Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy 2006 Barbera d’Asti Monte Colombo (Piedmont) – This shows very different fruit than any other wine in the room: strawberry powder with Starburst-like qualities. Watermelon, as well? There’s no doubt that it’s very odd. (3/10)

Gresy spoon

Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy 2007 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Sour cherry, dill, vanillin, and overworked fruit. (3/10)

23 March 2010

Odd der o?

Oddero 2007 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – A massive spanking of black raspberry jam. A fruit neutron bomb. Yes, yes, OK, congratulations, but everyone can do this. Why does it have to be done here as well? Edited to add: and this is from Oddero? I’m shocked. Gobsmacked, in fact…and in more ways than one. (3/10)


I Quaranta 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Asia” (Piedmont) – Dark chocolate with spiky acidity. Is that raspberry marshmallow? Sure, why not? Wood and acid aren’t a combo I much appreciate. (3/10)

Crea teen

La Tenaglia 2007 Barbera d’Asti Bricco Crea (Piedmont) – Full-on jam. Rock & roll fruit. Good in its style, I have to say, but that style is not mine. (3/10)

Tenaglia Atreides

La Tenaglia 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Giorgio Tenaglia” (Piedmont) – Oh milky, syrupy travesty of chocolate…why are you in my glass? (3/10)


La Fiammenga 2007 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Dill, mint, graphite soil. This is what New World cabernet should taste like, albeit with less of a green tinge to the wood. (3/10)

La Fiammenga 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Paion” (Piedmont) – Flat-aspect fruit, low-ebbing and dull. Seems tired more than anything else, as if the fruit is simply fatigued after being subjected to overt effort. (3/10)

Halfway there

La Meridiana 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Tra la Terra e il Cielo” (Piedmont) – Lavish dark fruit in whole-berry, jam, and jelly form, with tannin and a hard shut-down of wood on the finish. Starts showily, but ends unpleasantly and in complete disarray. (3/10)


La Pergola 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Cappelletta “Vigne Vecchie” (Piedmont) – Chunky. Lacquer and paint with a varnish of…no, sorry, I can’t bear to continue. It’s just not worth it. (3/10)

No so buona Serra

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Vigne Vecchie” (Piedmont) – Tedium in the form of overworked dark fruit. Wood and tannin, tannin and wood. (3/10)

Aliens who eat cats

Marchesi Alfieri 2007 Barbera d’Asti “La Tota” (Piedmont) – Milk and dark chocolates. Overly dense and just no fun. (3/10)

Marchesi Alfieri 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Alfiera” (Piedmont) – Good, solid fruit. Thick structure, dense with tannin and chocolately oak. Milkshake and wine coexist here, which isn’t entirely bad for those who like that sort of thing. (3/10)


Marcaurelio 2007 Barbera d’Asti Terranuda (Piedmont) – Lots of dark fruit that overcomes the paper and wood. Sorta. Not entirely. (3/10)

Vignasona Landreth

Cantina Vignasone 2007 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Brooding, with equal parts scowl and mysterious smile. Some tar beneath and above, and then the wine gradually turns to cement. There’s some intense black fruit before that, but man does this harden quickly. (3/10)

Cantina Vignasone 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Selezione” (Piedmont) – Bread and paper, Styrofoam and fake fruit. Coconut. More rum. Ugh. (3/10)

Alan Bellalda

Cà dei Mandorli 2007 Barbera d’Asti La Bellalda (Piedmont) – Soil-driven, yet a little low on acid. Rough fruit with textural chew and stick. Perhaps this will be better in the future than it is right now, as the elements seem present but churned-up at the moment. (3/10)

Five dice

Bricco dei Guazzi 2007 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Heat, salad greens, capsicum, and Band-Aided brett. The palate’s better, but by then it’s too late. (3/10)

Bigotta night

Bologna “Braida” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Bricco della Bigotta (Piedmont) – The structure here comes with a sting of heat on the end, but before that matters are pleasant enough, with a concentrated core of berries. Nice except for that finishing burn. (3/10)

Braida joy

Bologna “Braida” 2007 Barbera d’Asti Montebruna (Piedmont) – A full-fruited, throaty expression with nice balance. Soil and berry together in harmony. A little peppery. Good acid. (3/10)

Galdin child

Bersano 2007 Barbera d’Asti Cà d’Galdin (Piedmont) – Some mean greenies, almost like the infamous crushed ladybug aroma in the Canadian and (rumored) Burgundian infestations, full of insect parts and pyrazines. This characteristic continues on the palate. Weird. (3/10)


Scagliola 2008 Barbera d’Asti Vigna dei Mandorli (Piedmont) – Lush fruit, red, dark, and purple, extremely succulent. Acid’s a little tamped-down. Modernistic in approach, but a very pretty quaffing wine with short-term aging potential. (3/10)

I fiulot better now

Prunotto 2008 Barbera d’Asti “fiulot” (Piedmont) – Dark & dirty, unpleasant corned-grape hash. Good structure, and maybe this will turn into something one day. For now…no. (3/10)


Pescaja 2008 Barbera d’Asti “Soliter” (Piedmont) – Fully tropical, pure Malibu (or is it Captain Morgan Spiced?) rum. I have no idea what this is either, but even though it says barbera, it’s not barbera as anyone would want it. (3/10)

Montalbera Williams

Montalbera 2008 Barbera d’Asti “La Ribelle” (Piedmont) – Tropical fruit…red, pink, orange, yellow, you name it…though really, drinking something that’s (questionably) labeled barbera with a festive umbrella in it isn’t so bad. As such wines go, well-confectedconstructed. Finishes with Malibu rum and a dash of fresh lemon peel. Of course. I have no idea what this is, but I’d like one delivered to my cabana. (3/10)

Eat, eat

l’Armangia 2008 Barbera d’Asti “Sopra Berruti” (Piedmont) – Sour dill, weeds, disgusting vegetal stew. Really vile. I can’t get this out of my mouth fast enough. (3/10)


La Casaccia 2008 Barbera d’Asti Vigna Sant’Anna (Piedmont) – Kinda insignificant. Seems weirdly imbalanced. Context? Yeah, probably. But I don’t like it. (3/10)


Trinchero 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Rico” (Piedmont) – Back to normal, everyday internationalizing…full fruit, mixed chocolates, Fruit RollUps. Spiky/spicy acidity on the finish. (3/10)

Trinchero 2008 Barbera d’Asti “La Trincherina” (Piedmont) – A bit of alcohol, soil, bark, and chewy loam. Smoothed over from what would appear to wish to be something more untamed than what’s evident in the glass. Finishes with dill. Never a good sign. (3/10)


Elio Perrone 2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Mongovone (Piedmont) – Heat, brett, chocolate, rum. Lament for what’s been done to this wine. Dill, spinach, cocoa, espresso. Lament, lament, lament. (3/10)


Elio Perrone 2008 Barbera d’Asti “tasmorcan” (Piedmont) – Very obvious oak, with toasted coconut layering the mix. Dark, concentrated fruit, black cherries and blackberries, with no foundation in the region or grape that I can perceive. Overwooded, even though the quantity of quercus probably isn’t that large, overall. (3/10)

Ronchetti Jeremy

Dezzani 2008 Barbera d’Asti “ronchetti” (Piedmont) – Anise, both candy and herbal, with intense licorice, dark fruit, jam, and concentrated berries. Acid and tannin are equally intense, and so there’s balance of a sort, but this is an awfully powerful, dark wine (3/10)

Damn lano

Damilano 2008 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Very dark blueberry, black pepper, and a bit overdriven. Continues with slashing, intense fruit, rich and vibrant, almost neon-toned. Very long. Modern, perhaps, but excellent. (3/10)

The Mora, the merrier

Crivelli 2008 Barbera d’Asti Collina La Mora (Piedmont) – Succulent dark cherries, darker berries. Intense dark fruited-core, linear but very approachable. Purplish. Good acidity. Best yet. (3/10)


Caudrina 2006 Barbera d’Asti Montevenere (Piedmont) – Chocolate malt drink. (3/10)

Caudrina partridge

Caudrina 2008 Barbera d’Asti “La Solista” (Piedmont) – Brett, with cherries churning underneath. Black fruit, thick with skins, on the palate, with a bark-like structure. This would seem to desire age. A fair interpretation of the chunkier style. (3/10)

Tiny dancer

La Ballerina 2007 Barbera d’Asti “GB” (Piedmont) – Vodka, Chartreuse (not in a good way), milk chocolate. A horror show. (3/10)

La Ballerina 2006 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Ajè” (Piedmont) – Very, very chocolately. Myself, I prefer these sorts of things made from a fine, single-sourced cocoa, rather than the syrupy stuff that comes in a squeeze bottle. Also, a slightly fresher milk would be better; this tastes like that room-temperature, chemically frightening “milk” the French drink. (3/10)

Photo Galarin

Galarin 2008 Barbera d’Asti “Le Querce” (Piedmont) – Dark fruit (black cherry & plum). Rich, dark-fruited, slightly syrupy, and very concentrated. Vanilla and licorice make their cases as well. Modern-styled, but supports its argument. Good. (3/10)

Galarin 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Le Querce” (Piedmont) – Dense and concentrated, showing black fruit and dark chocolate. Very solid, but a slick, Milanese expression thereof…fashionable and showy, rather than allowing a speck of dirt under the fingernails. (3/10)

Dog days

Dogliotti 2008 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Black-tending cherry, intense and thick, with a spike of heat. A mélange of berries provide fair presence, but it finishes shortish. (3/10)

Sociale club

Cantina Sociale Barbera dei Sei Castelli 2008 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Vibrant cherry, mostly red but with a brush of black, vivid and lavish. Ever so faint hint of banana. Palate absent, good balance but where’s fruit? Structured, but not interesting enough to drink. (3/10)


Alice Bel Colle 2008 Barbera d’Asti “al Casò” (Piedmont) – Faint brett funk, chewy walnuts with a haze of rancidity. Brett continues to palate, Band-Aid & soil, tannin, sourness & greenness. Not pleasant at all. Flawed. (3/10)

Alice Bel Colle 2007 Barbera d’Asti “Alix” (Piedmont) – Dark fruit, licorice, black raspberry, and strawberry with a round and columnar structure. Quite good in it’s dark, solid idiom. (3/10)

Am I the Castiglione one?

Oddero 2001 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione (Piedmont) – Already fairly mature in some ways, with its soil turned pepper-powdery and the fruit having yielded to well-dried black roses. Old tar, laid long ago with aspiration, through a long-fallow field permeates both the tar and the structure. The finish is soil-derived but powdery. Very approachable, and despite all expectations I’d consider drinking this nowish. (3/10)

The Marchenasco of the shreves

Ratti 2001 Barolo Marcenasco (Piedmont) – Light and dirty, with a lift to it despite the dark-fruited, brooding core. Crushed flowers everywhere. This is still developing, and while there are prematurely mature elements present, the wine itself is still reasonably firm and grippy, and will need another five-plus years (at the very least) to yield its full range of aromatic complexity. (3/10)

Jane Fonda in space

Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco (Piedmont) – Very tannic and brutish, with flailing acidity and a biting lash of tart red fruit. Powerful and concentrated in a way that’s perhaps not expected from this basic blend, with sour cherry mostarda taking control of the finish. Very, very young. (3/10)

Going Loazzolo

Forteto della Luja "Loazzolo" (Piedmont) – A moscato passito, piney and floral, with a giant burst of intensity that comes up short. Striking for its moment, but that moment is soon lost. (3/10)

Saracco Siffredi

Saracco 2009 Moscato d’Asti (Piedmont) – Bright apple foam, lightly perfumed and joyous, but with a serious face as well. Neither pure fun nor overly aspirational, but forging a middle path. (3/10)


San Francesco 2008 Costa d’Amalfi “per eva” (Campania) – A blend of falanghina, pepella, and ginestra. Sounds more like an opera than a wine, to me. Anyway, it’s a touch spritzy, full of lime and lemongrass, with a surprising chalkiness that sneaks up, takes over for a moment, and then skitters away. Sour bones of structure and pale decay clutter up the finish. Very interesting. (3/10)

Pépière steak

Ollivier “Domaine de la Pépière” 2008 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Bony and spare, but with the early-maturing elegance of developed minerality. Look, this is not a wine everyone, or even most, will “get.” I’m not even sure I do, all the time. In a way, that makes it even better than it is. (3/10)

No photos for a while

This exceedingly uninteresting blog will be, for the next rather long while, be made even less interesting by the absence of pictures. Sorry. But with hundreds of barbera notes to post, I don't have time to search for beautiful art. I'm too busy wondering why oak is considered a universal panacea.

05 March 2010

The last Noël

Affligem “Noël” Christmas Ale (Belgium) – Like drinking a Christmas cake, dark with spiced molasses and very nearly liquid dessert, this is very much an acquired taste. I think it would be better sipped from tiny cordial glasses rather than consumed in normal beer quantities. (3/10)


Lagunitas 2010 “Olde Gnarly Wine” Barley Wine (California) – 10.85% alcohol, and it shows every bit of it. I wouldn’t say it’s imbalanced, exactly, because the alcohol doesn’t stick out from the piercing, coppery intensity, but man does it go to the head fast. Very, very strong, in many senses of the term. Too much for me, frankly. (3/10)

Butterfly coal

Easton 2008 Cabernet Franc Monarch Mine (Sierra Foothills) – Fairly generic California wine, in style: big, brawny, laden with dark fruit, and yet not quite tasting entirely of fruit as such. A hint of greenness to the significant tannin is the only sign of real differentiation from the norm. Maybe (much) time will help this, but it’s tedious to the extreme right now. (3/10)

04 March 2010

When the Levi breaks

[label]Romano Levi Grappa (Piedmont) – For every cherished experience, there is a transformative moment. Sometimes, it’s sought…but other times, it strikes as unexpectedly as lightning from a clear blue sky. This is an example of the latter.

Until this experience, I can say that I’ve found grappa interesting. Interesting…but not good. It has been something to be explored for its variety and source-specificity, for its place in an Italian life, and for its convivial role. But this grappa changes everything. I am enraptured. Instantly, and without reserve. This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

My notes, as scribbled into my journal at the moment of encounter, initially identify what I’m drinking as “incomprehensible label, producer in Nieve.” It’s only after I smell, and taste, that I apply myself to the work of deciphering the hand-drawn labels for which this producer is famous. I have never tasted a grappa like this, either in form or in quality. It is so superior to anything I’ve previously encountered that it might as well be its own category. Supple yet full-flavored, drawing both fruit and mineral into a distillation of floral complexity, then lingering in a gentle decrescendo that slowly exposes both that minerality and the memory of a faded bouquet of the palest white roses. This is the best. The absolute best. I’m floored. Stunned. Moved. So much of all three that the returning sommelier, noticing my bliss and knowing its source, pours a generous second helping in my glass. (10/07)

Anfora next trick...

Gravner 2001 Ribolla Gialla “Anfora” (Venezia Giulia) – Restrained, to such an extent that I wonder about sub-detectable TCA. And then, after a few more sniffs, I wonder no more. Corked. (10/07)

Gravner 2001 Ribolla Gialla “Anfora” (Venezia Giulia) – Elegant honeysuckle and wax with minor citrus elements. Surprisingly indifferent, which is not an experience I’ve ever had with this (or any other) Gravner amphora wine. It’s good, but it’s oddly pedestrian. Maybe something to do with drinking it at sea level? Barometric pressure, perhaps? Lunar phases? Roman ghosts that disapprove of Greek winemaking vessels? Whatever the cause, it’s a transparent shadow of its usual self. (10/07)

Jer the mann

[winery]Jermann 1996 Pignolo “Pignacolusse” Campi dei Fratti e Monache (Venezia Giulia) – Just now approaching its mature phase, though it’s still very early in that stage. Aromatically, it’s as if someone blended the bright berries of gamay and the cedary greenness of cabernet sauvignon. I don’t want to say it’s volatile, but it’s a bit “lifted,” which I guess is sort of a code for a minor case of the same…though in this wine, it’s more of a contributor to the overall complexity than it is an identifiable flaw. Berries darken at the core, wrapping their skins about themselves for tannic chew and texture. A long, solid finish brings the journey to a close. Very interesting. (10/07)

Rotational force

Maculan 1984 Breganze Torcolato (Veneto) – From 375 ml. Very, very dark brown, and absent most of the wine’s expected character aside from a straightforward sweetness. It’s still just a bit spicy, but this has traveled well past any stage in which I find much appeal. (10/07)

Haton life

Haton 1996 Champagne Brut “Millésimé” (Champagne) – Champagne? Really? Not prosecco? We’re in northeastern Italy, have asked for a bubbly apéritif, and we’re getting Champagne? Well, OK. It’s tart and chardonnay-esque, showing lemon, green apple, and clean sharpness. There’s no real complexity, and while there’s plenty of verve, what the wine lacks is sufficient interest. Honestly, I think I would have preferred prosecco. (10/07)

Canavel cruises

Canevel Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut (Veneto) – Dry, sharp, and clean. Pretty basic, but good enough. (10/07)

Ralph Maschio

Bonaventura Maschio “Prime Uve” Acquavite d’Uva (Veneto) – Harsh flowers. Coats, clears, then burns the nasal passages. Not fun. (10/07)

Draw the Kurtin

Kurtin 2005 Ribolla Gialla (Collio) – Windy and flat, with wax and skins (the kind that are typical to traditionally-fermented ribolla gialla, not the amped-up structure of the “orange wine” cohort). Some underripe lime wanders about. Stodgy and linear. (10/07)

Two Mauro

Castel San Mauro 2005 Ribolla Gialla (Collio) – Fulsome, but structured like a broad, flat plain. Leaves, minerals, and angles…the acuteness of which increase as the wine approaches its finish. Some alcoholic fatness as well. Just OK. (10/07)

Gradnik degree

Gradnik 2005 Ribolla Gialla (Collio) – Very full-bodied, with ripe, yellow-toned fruit. The palate quickly deadens any pleasurable aromatic sensations, however, and soon the wine has taken on the texture of peanut butter. This is not, in case it’s unclear, a welcome impression. (10/07)

03 March 2010

Indicator finger

[vineyard]Green Point 2006 Shiraz (Victoria) – Syrah demiglace, concentrated to the extent that licorice and jam dominate both nose and palate. A little bit volatile. There’s nothing here other than severely reduced (I don’t mean chemically, but as one would concentrate a sauce) fruit. No structure is evidence, though I’m sure there’s some lurking somewhere underneath the infantry assault. If you’ve ever looked at a porn star and thought, “well, she’d be more attractive if her implants were bigger,” this is the wine for you. (3/10)

I'd like to bi a valve, please

Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” Island Creek Oyster Stout (Massachusetts) – Yes, stout. Yes, the unmistakable saline tang of oysters. I like stout. I like Island Creek oysters. I don’t like stout with oysters. So the merits of this wine are lost on me. (3/10)

Valley, valley, valley

Ridge 2005 “Three Valleys” (Sonoma County) – 74% zinfandel, 13% petite sirah, plus little bits of carignane, grenache, and mataro. 14.2% alcohol. Dead, flat, stripped aromas of dark berries and wan, over-oxidized spices…like pepper that was ground three years ago…with a sad gesture at structure. Very, very tired. This wine has never been any good, and is frankly a bit of an embarrassment among the Ridge stable. (3/10)