Posted November 07, 2011 in Wine, Wine Everywhere
Barbaresco has long been one of my favorite wines. Especially the more traditional versions, with instantly recognizable notes of strawberry and mushrooms. Now ENO on Michigan Avenue is featuring a flight of Barbaresco from the 95, 96 & 97 vintages.
The late 90s was like a coming out party for Piedmont, topped with the almost perfect 1996 and 1997 vintages. All the wines are from a small cooperative, originally started in 1972 by 12 growers who supplied the top winemakers in the region. Now incorporating grapes from 15 growers, the wine of Catina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinance represent classic Barbaresco. These growers are quite small as well, encompassing only 170 acres between them all. Pertinance is a very small town on the edge of the Barbaresco region and birthplace to Emperor Elvio, a short-lived Emperor during the Roman Empire.
There has been a movement over the last decade or so towards making the Nebbiolo grape in a more New World fashion. Happily, Cesare Barbero, winemaker at Catina Vignaioli has stuck to the more traditional methods. Aging for two years in larger Slovakian oak helps the subtleties of the Nebbiolo grape shine. The oddity of the Nebbiolo grape, is that it can be quite tannic despite being thin skinned. Many winemakers say it is more difficult to grow than Pinot Noir, another famously finicky varietal. It takes time to appreciate Barbaresco. It is the wine that keeps on giving over time. There are layers of strawberry, mushroom, a hint of sandalwood and spice, and of course, the tannin to hold it together for a number of years.
It is a rare treat to try these wines side by side, so hurry in for these classic wines.