By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Merchants
Last Thursday night, K&L Redwood City was treated to a visit from three great producers from the northwest of Italy, Piedmont. They all make very different styles of wine from this high quality, diverse region but have one thing in common: very strong value for the money. Oliver McCrum brings all of the wines in, and he is an importer I look up to for his integrity, palate and belief in value wines.
We started the tasting with Marco Porello’s excellent 2011“Camestri” Arneis from Roero ($16.99). This bright, aromatic white wine was light enough to make a great aperitif, but had enough stuffing in it to keep the interest of the most demanding wine fan. It is entirely from the small Camestri vineyard in Vezza d’Alba planted in 1980 at an altitude of almost 1000 feet on limestone and sand. High quality Arneis like this gives those looking for a Viognier like aromatic experience a basket of exotic fruit on the nose, but finishes dry and long because of the good acidity.
He also showed the elegant 2010 Marco Porello Nebbiolo d’Alba ($16.99) that is produced from two vineyards, one in Canale and one in Vezza d’Alba. The vines were planted between 1980 and 1985 at an altitude of 980 feet. This wine is vinified in giant 800-gallon Slovenian oak botti for one year. The wine shows the rose petal side of Nebbiolo more than the tar side, and is quite delicious to drink right now. It has plenty of perfume, a seamless texture and a nice finish that has grip with out being chalky. I need some of this for my cellar- I’ll start drinking it right away and hold onto a few for the next five years or so.
Maria Abbona in Dogliani
We were also honored by the presence of Federico Schellino from one of the best Dolcetto producers in the world, Maria Abbona in Dogliani. These Dolcettos have been favorites of mine for years, and getting a chance to meet the man behind them was a real treat for me. He showed the 2011 Anna Maria Abbona “Sori dij But” Dolcetto di Dogliani ($16.99) first. This rich Dolcetto comes from a selection of seven and a half acres of vineyards that average 45 years old. The 1600 to 1700 foot elevation of these sites explains the excellent snap that this full bodied wine has- this is not your average low acid Dolcetto! If you are looking for a full-bodied, dark fruited wine for rich dishes, this is it. I bought some immediately!
My personal favorite wine of the night was the powerful, impressive, perfectly balanced 2009 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani “Maioli” ($20.99). This wine comes from one four-acre site at 1640 feet that was planted in the 1930s. It wasn’t enough to just taste this with Federico, I had to buy some and bring it back home to Cinnamon for our pasta! Too many wine fans dismiss Dolcetto as simple, but a taste of the “Maioli” will dismiss that stereotype instantly. It is full of wild blackberry fruit and is very full bodied with a long, grippy finish. Most wines that are this big and rich come across as overweight, but this flagship Dolcetto has the acidity to finish with focus.
We finished up with two charming Moscatos from Marco Dogliotti’s excellent La Caudrina from Castiglione Tinella on the Asti/ Monferrato border. His father was the first producer of high quality, estate grown Moscato in Piedmont; most of the production in this area is sold off in bulk as juice to big negociants. Marco poured the La Caudrina Asti “La Selvatica” ($19.99) first, which at 5 atmospheres is almost at full Champagne pressure. It is produced from 37-year-old vines at about 900 feet. This spumante is perfect for wine lovers looking for something a little bit drier, more bubbly, and fuller bodied than Moscato d’Asti. I found it to have lots of exotic aromas, a nice mousse and a sweet but clean finish.
Finally we tried the 2011 La Caudrina Moscato d’Asti ($17.99) from slightly younger 34-year-old vines also at about 900 feet of elevation. This is one of the very best Moscato d’Astis that I have had the pleasure of trying. Effortlessly light, full of charming perfume and welcoming sweetness, this is the perfect dessert wine for an elegant meal. At only two atmospheres of pressure and 5% alcohol it won’t make you feel full of bubbles or knock you over the head.
I can’t wait to get back to Piedmont and see these guys again!