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ALBA WINES EXHIBITION
2007


Notes by Gerald Weisl, wine merchant

The Unione Produttori Vini Albesi" hosts an annual tasting of the newest vintage of Albesi wines.  Featured are the latest releases of Roero wines, along with Barbaresco, Barolo and Barolo Riserva wines.  Typically, about 50 journalists are invited and they are obliged to taste all the wines submitted by participating growers and winemakers.  You'll find numerous, famous Italian wine writers as well as eno-scribes from Denmark, Belgium, Poland, China, Japan and the U.S.

For the first time, the organizers of the event decided to also invite a number of "buyers."  I was one of a small group of "wine merchants" and this, of course, was a great honor.  We work diligently to promote these wines and, unlike the journalists, we actually "put our money where our mouth is" in buying and recommending wines.

For many people this is a good opportunity to evaluate the newest release of "vintages."  People who critique wine often strive to simplify matters and so when they've had a tasting of 150 wines from a particular vintage, they routinely "rate" the harvest and make blanket statements.
In my experience I can tell you I've found wonderful wines in so-called "off" vintages and less-than-stellar bottles from the supposedly "grand" years.
As a result, I am "allergic" to vintage charts.

We tasted an incredible range of wines over this remarkable four day period.  Each morning we began with a "formal" tasting of Nebbiolo wines, typically about 70 to 80 samples.
The wines were presented in some sort of geographically-arranged manner.

It was a fantastic opportunity, to say the least.

I've highlighted wines which I felt were really good and of interest.  My notes are not complete, as I've not mentioned wines which, for a variety of reasons, were not showing well or were not to my taste.
Perhaps we had an "off" bottle of something?  Perhaps some wines, having been recently bottled, were not especially expressive (rather like when you have your picture taken and your eyes are closed...that's not how you are most of the time, but that's how you were when the camera snapped the photo).  Perhaps a particular wine was simply in the shadows of others...

ROERO
The region north of Alba and west of the Barbaresco zone...
Roero reds are usually comprised of Nebbiolo grapes, but the law does permit a tiny percentage of the white grape, Arneis or a very minor amount of other "local" red grapes.
The normal bottlings of Roero red must be 20 months old and have spent, at least, 6 months in wood.  For the Riserva designation, the wines still must spend 6 months in wood as a minimum and they can only be released when they're 30 months of age.  One winemaker told me "We're the Sonoma region of the area...Barolo and Barbaresco: they're Napa."
The wines of the Roero come from sandier soils than those found in "Napa," so the wines have a slightly different structure.  Many, though, have a moderate amount of tannin, but as a group, they don't seem to have the longevity of many Barolo wines.

CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF THE REGION

My Top Wines of the 2004 Vintage
(Keep in mind, not every winery participates)
3 stars is tops, with one star being quite good and two stars being very good.  The descriptors give you an idea of what to expect from the wine presently, while the stars are a purely personal notation of my appreciation for each wine.  
I only included wines with some level of "excitement," so I did not post notes from wines which had "no stars."

CASCINA CA' ROSSA
2004 Roero
"Mompissano"
Nice fruit, woodsy notes are prominent on the nose, with hints of vanilla.  Charming.  Mildly leathery.  Nice long finish.  Now-2012+
MATTEO CORREGGIA
2004 Roero
"Roche d'Ampsej"
Mildly resiny notes, reminiscent of mint or eucalyptus with some cedary tones.  Nice structure, with a 'crisp' edge to it.  Good tannins.  Finishes nicely.  Cellarworthy.  Now-2015
MALABAILA
2004 Roero Superiore
"Castelletto"
Lots of red fruit aromas, this is a good, young, fairly tannic red.  It is a bit closed and a bit coarse presently.  It will take 5-10 years before this blossoms.  2012-2017+
MALVIRA
2004 Roero Superiore
"Trinita"
Here's a wine with lots of Nebbiolo character...hints of leathery, cherryish fruit.  It's dry, with nice acidity, medium-bodied and mildly-tannic.  Not a powerhouse, but good.  Now-2014+.
MALVIRA
2004 Roero Superiore
"Mombeltramo"
More oaky than the Trinita bottling, this seems to have more structure and tannin.  It's a bit closed or shy at this point, so I gave it the same one star rating as it's sibling, though with time, it may warrant a higher designation.  2012-2017+
MONCHIERO CARBONE
2004 Roero
"Printi Per Lucia"
This has a darker color than most, so I wondered whether or not it had a bit of Barbera, perhaps, added to beef it up.  There's quite a bit of wood here and lots of dark fruit aromas.  Some tasters may find it atypical, but for those who prefer a bigger, more concentrated wine, this is quite interesting.  It's drinkable now and should remain good through 2020, I suspect.
PACE DI NEGRO Fratelli
2004 Roero
What a contrast with the previous wine (above)!  This smells tarry and resembles an older, more mature wine.  It doesn't have great cellaring potential, but if you like old Nebbiolo, this is quite immediately enjoyable.  I wouldn't advise cellaring it, though.
PACE DI NEGRO Fratelli
2004 Roero Superiore
What a contrast between this and their 'regular' bottling!  Aromas here are of dark fruits and berries.  It's difficult to imagine the two wines are made by the same vintner!  This can be cellared for 5-10 years.
CASCINA CHICCO
2004 Roero
"Montespinato"
Red fruit aromas with mildly spicy notes on the nose...nutmeg, perhaps?  Faintly herbal with a streak of cassis and some nice cherry fruit.  Mildly tannic.  Good.
BUGANZA (Renato)
2004 Roero
"Bric Paradis"
Very ripe red fruit aromas with some pleasantly woodsy notes.  This is mildly floral with ripe pear fragrances and a hint of cinnamon spice.  Medium-bodied.  Nice tannic structure suggests 5-10 years of cellaring.

ALMONDO (Giovanni)
2004 Roero
"Bric Valdiana"

Here's a rather "fine" or elegant rendition of Nebbiolo.  The fruit aromas are classically "Nebbiolo," with red fruit tones.  It's deeper on the palate and has a nicely balanced, if a bit tannic, finish.  Quite fine.  2012-2020.

NEGRO (Angelo & Figli)
2004 Roero
"Sudisfa"

Loads of brown spice fragrances here, with ripe red fruits and a touch of candied orange peel.  The flavors offer a bit more dark fruit and it has a leathery finish.

NEGRO (Angelo & Figli)
2004 Roero
"Prachiosso"

Nice brown spice tones are a bit more pronounced in this bottling from Negro.  Cinnamon and nutmeg tones are quite pretty on the nose and the wine has good depth and moderate tannins on the palate.  Deep.  Quite good.  Long finish.  Impressive.

CASCINA VAL DEL PRETE
2004 Roero
I'm certain that some tasters will not find this to be to their liking, as it's an oak-dominated wine.  Woodsy, lumber-yard sorts of fragrances will probably horrify those looking for classic Nebbiolo, but if you're a fan of New World Cabernets (for example), this will be of interest.  I liked it, but it's not for everyone.
DELTETTO
2004 Roero
"Prachiosso"
Mild red fruit aromas...ripe cherry notes.  It's a medium-bodied red...intensely Nebbiolo.  Dry, tannic and needing some time to blossom.  Drinkable 2012-2020.
+
CASCINA CHICCO
2004 Roero
"Valmaggiore"
Here's a wine with more intense color than most of the others.  Lovely dark fruit aromas are backed by a floral aspect on the aroma.  Complex and charming.  A hint of brown spices and nice red fruit flavors.  Good on the palate.  Tannic, but teeming with fruit.  Showy.  2012-2018.
VICO (Giacomo)
2004 Roero Superiore
Having mild red fruit aromas and a light touch of oak, this is a finely balanced Nebbiolo.  The tannins are fairly 'round' and match up nicely with the red fruit flavors on the palate.  Not needing a lot of cellaring, this is fine now-2012, or so.
MONCHIERO CARBONE
2004 Roero
"Sru"
Mildly resiny notes on the nose, this has a hint of eucalyptus fragrances.  It's difficult to believe it's the same winemaker as the darker-colored "Printi" bottling listed earlier, but it does have good texture and structure with nice red fruit flavors.  This wine is drinkable now and should remain in good condition for a few more years.

Producers of these wines were invited to come have a taste...It was a good opportunity for them to see what their neighbor's wines tasted like.
This is a very good format, frankly, as it allows open-minded winemakers to know what wines are being made in the region.  As winemakers are frequently a bit "cellar blind" (that is, they always prefer their own wines), we applaud those who came to taste.




LATER IN THE DAY THERE WAS AN INFORMAL TASTING IN THE ROERO REGION...







This was an opportunity to taste "other" wines made by the producers in the Roero region.
I was surprised this tasting was not more fully attended by the journalist contingent, frankly.

I tasted a number of very fine Arneis wines, for example (Marsaglia, Malvira, Stefano Morra, Giacomo Vico, Giovanni Almondo, Buganza, Matteo Coreggia and Cascina Val del Prete being favorites).
Angelo Negro had a lovely Arneis Spumante, while Deltetto had a fine pink bubbly that's half Pinot Nero and half Nebbiolo. 
There were numerous red wines...I particularly liked the 2004 Barbera d'Alba of Matteo Coreggia, Cascina Val del Prete's "Vigna del Lino" Nebbiolo d'Alba, Cascina Chicco 2005 Barbera and some Barbera wines of Ponchione.


Time for Barbaresco...


On to the next page for tasting notes of 2004 Vintage Barbaresco.



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