Tuesday I visited two wineries with very different interpretations of Nebbiolo. These might be considered the two extremes in style. Both make delicious Barolos. The wines of Conterno Fantino are fermented in stainless steel rotofermentors and aged in 100 percent new French oak barriques.
For lunch Monday we dined at La Ciau del Tornavento , a hilltop restaurant with beautiful view looking out over the Langhe and off to the Alps in the distance. The restaurant holds a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence and offers more than 2,000 selections, primarily from Piedmont.
I had more geography lessons on Monday, this time courtesy of Luca Currado of Vietti. The Vietti cellars are located in the heart of Castiglione Falletto. From the terrace outside, there is a good view of the western part of the zone.
I came to Piedmont, and specifically Barolo, to get a better understanding of the wines. The first Nebbiolo I recall that made an impression on me was a Barbaresco Riserva 1974 from a producer called Gemma, if I remember correctly.
Roberto Voerzio is a passionate vigneron. He is the first Barolo winemaker to earn a perfect 100-point score, for his Barolo Brunate 1997. The 2007 harvest was his 21st and he currently farms 30 acres around the village of La Morra.
I finally arrived in La Morra, in Barolo, Friday evening. It was a long trip and mostly uneventful, although the drive from Milan’s Malpensa airport took a little longer than I had expected. By the time I took the Asti exit in the direction of Alba, it was getting dark.
I am curious, like my colleague James Suckling, what the fuss is about truffles. So I’m traveling to Piedmont to find out firsthand for myself. It’s a region that has long interested me. I’ll be staying in the Barolo zone and visiting a few producers of Barolo and Barbaresco.
If you haven’t tried a dry German Riesling recently, you owe it to yourself to take another look. There are some excellent wines currently available. It helps that the past 3 out of 4 vintages— 2003 , 2005 and 2006 —have been favorable for dry wine production.
I had lunch a few weeks ago with Richard Geoffroy, the erudite and fascinating chef de cave of Moët & Chandon’s Cuvée Dom Pérignon. He had organized a tasting for me to showcase some recent vintages, some of which will be designated for the Oenothèque program, along with some current and past Oenothèque bottlings.
Louis Roederer ’s Cristal is one of the most prestigious and widely recognized prestige cuvées from Champagne. Yet, often in my blind tastings, it doesn’t stand out. Although the 2000 and 1999 vintages rated outstanding (91 points), I rated the 1997 88 points and the 1996 initially 90 points, before giving it 94 points a year later.
Champagne Pommery will release two new cuvées in the United States early next year. The Brut Blanc de Blancs Summertime NV and Brut Blanc de Noirs Wintertime NV are new blends from Pommery’s vice president and winemaker Thierry Gasco.
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