A Taste of Piedmont

Reviewed: 1 August 2011

My good friend and co-contributor to Fine Wine Club, Brendan Jansen, hosted this tasting as he has returned from his sabbatical in Italy with “A Boot-Full of Wine” for us to try. Unfortunately, his wine did not arrive in time. This turned out to be a bonus for us as most of the wines are currently available. (Try La Vigna, Bocaccio, Lamonts or East End Cellars).

Given that Brendan has been living and drinking in Italy for the last few years, it is of no surprise that the tasting was spectacular. Yes, the wines were excellent, but it was the stories and facts that Brendan shared with us that made the tasting special.


In order tasted

Giribaldi – Cortese – Gavi – I Risi – DOCG – 2009 (17.4). Apple and pear fruit notes to open. This is really fresh and vibrant in the palate, with impressive length and some finesse. Light acidity and a touch of caramel help make this soft and very drinkable.

Vignetti Massa – Timorasso – Derthona – DOC 2006 (17). A few years in the bottle has made this a lovely drink. Open and inviting, with gentle spice on the nose. Quite oily and viscous on a palate that has some caramel/honey and nutty notes. Long and round, this has some similarity to the Alsatian varieties. From Colli Tortonesi.

Tenuta Carretta – Arneis – Cayega – DOCG – 2008 (17.5). Fresh and fragrant, this has lovely floral fruit. Excellent length and mouth-feel. The acidity is perfectly matched to the fruit. From Roero.

Benevelli Piero – Freisa – Alla Mia Gioia – Langhe – DOC – 2009 (16.7). Is this a precursor to sparkling shiraz? Very fruit forward, but with a degree of complexity and structure. Slight spritz positions this between a standard red and a sparkling shiraz in terms of mouth-feel and texture. I think this would be a good substitute for a sparkling shiraz. Freisa is a relation to nebbiolo.

Bruno Porro – Dolcetto di Dogliani – DOCG – 2008 (17). Subdued nose. A gentle, elegant wine that is more about texture and mouth-feel than primary fruit. The souring cherry fruit make this an excellent food wine.

Il Cascinone – Barbera D’Asti – DOC – Rive – 2007 (17.5). Very vibrant hue, especially compared to the other Barberas here. Complex and enticing with fresh fruit notes. I thought cherry, plum, licorice and tobacco leaf. Has some similarity to cabernet in the slight mint and red fruit notes. Lovely palate with vibrant fruit that dances on the tongue. The tannins are fine and the oak influence subdued. Good length and weight, though the oak could settle down a little.

Giacomo Borgogno & Figli – Barbera D’Alba – DOC – 2008 (16). More earthy characters on the nose. Fresh and somewhat tart, with souring acidity providing the main flavour notes. An interesting wine.

Giribaldi – Barbera D’Alba – Vigna Caj – DOC – 2005 (17.8). An interesting compromise between the fresh fruit of the Il Cascinone and the Borgogno. Savoury notes, but with good quality fruit in evidence. The palate is a lovely compromise, with ripe cherry and red fruits, but with a lovely savoury twist. There is licorice, tar, herbs and spice. A lovely wine, though some felt that it was past its best.

Arpartin – Barbera D’Alba – DOC – 2008 (17). Perfumed nose that is very attractive. Floral fruit on the palate, showing lovely fresh fruit. This has a soft, almost plush, finish. This is a very approachable wine that will be great drinking on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Vietti – Nebbiolo – Lange – Perbacco – DOC 2007 (NR). Gently perfumed. Perhaps a touch cork tainted, but quite delicious.

Three Hills – Nebbiolo – 2007 (17+/-). A powerful nose that is a blend of dark fruits, forest floor and vegetative notes. The palate is the same. A style that is not me, but it is very impressive.

Traversa – Barbaresco – DOCG – Straderi – 2007 (18.3). Wow. Fragrant, spicy and very attractive. Cherry, leather, tar and spice to a pretty nose. The palate is firm and structured, with the very fine tannins framing the palate. Impressive length here, and remarkably approachable. Very long and very fine.

Produttori di Barbaresco – DOCG – 2006 (17+). More subdued, and savoury. High acid and a touch of varnish/resin put this firmly in the old school style. A touch tough right now, this builds in the mouth, so I would like to see it again in a few years. Showed some pretty fruit and lovely structure with air.

Arpartin – Barolo – DOCG – 2005 (17.8). Pipe tobacco, fennel seed and a touch of vanilla. The palate is very leathery and savoury, and the tannins, whilst noticeable, are very fine and silky. Has started to develop, but is a long way from the end of its life. Sour cherry fruit to close.

Cavalotto – Barolo – DOCG – Bricco Boschis – 2004 (18+). An interesting nose that I had trouble pinpointing. A muscular and powerful wine in a traditional style. The prodigious tannins are starting to soften, allowing the fruit to express itself better. Tar and leather predominate on the palate, but with cherry red fruits showing through. A wine of real power that will continue to improve for ten years.