Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Satisfying Piedmont Reds

I can't afford to drink the greatest Piedmont reds with any consistency — I have but three bottles of Barolo stashed away — and even the barberas from producers like Giacosa and Giacomo Conterno are special treats. Still, I'm not willing to settle for a simplistic wine; even a modestly priced dolcetto or barbera needs to be more than just juicy and vibrant. So I'm glad I recently found one of each variety that hit their typicité marks and still deliver that something extra at around $15.

Vivalda Massimiliano Monferrato Dolcetto d'Asti 2006
I've been too often disappointed by dolcetto to invest much time finding the better examples, but this one happens to be quite nice. Vivalda grows their fruit in Nizza Monferrato and vinifies the wine simply, using steel exclusively. I was a bit surprised to learn this, for the cherry fruit in the '06 dolcetto purrs rather than shouts and is balanced by a somewhat complex earthiness. The mouthfeel is complete. If you're serving risotto or truffle-flecked pasta and you don't have a Barolo handy, you could happily pop this cork instead.

Tenuta Arnulfo Barbera d'Alba Costa di Bussia 2006
Tenuta Arnulfo's vineyard is sited within Barolo near the commune of Monforte d'Alba. While Monforte soils are typically Helvetian, the soil at Arfulfo is mostly calcareous Tortonian marl. Arnulfo does not specifically state that this barbera comes exclusively from estate-grown grapes (the label says "estate bottled by..."), but barbera is planeted to a few hectares there and it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that some proportion of the wine is made from these grapes. Whatever the source, this cask-aged barbera is young, juicy, and vibrant, with soft yet structured tannins, but there's more going on here than simple vitality, for the subtle earth, cola, and spice notes suggest nascent elegance. These subtler pleasures make all the difference, and I'd love to track this over the next two years.

1 comment:

TWG said...

How 'bout a new post?
Also I preferred the old cat and regret telling you about the Weather Channel copycat.