Barolo v Barbaresco

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Mondays tend to be industry days, and yesterday was no exception with a full day of wine-centric activities. Sarah joined me for some rooftop skating, where we enjoyed some 2008 Veuve Cliquot while meeting the whos who of Moet Hennessy.  But the real sustenance of the day circled around Italy, which is a BIG area I desperately need to focus more attention on for June’s three day marathon tasting. Lucky for me Sarah’s an expert and an amazing resource. If you’re in New York Saturday Feb 23rd, come by TWM for a Sicilian education.

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First we head over to Osteria Morini to join Vintus, Monsieur Touton and Miriam Masciarelli for a stellar line up of delicious Masciarelli Abruzzo Trebbianos and Montepulcianos. Miriam is the most recent generation, and at less than 30 years old, will be the one to see these wines into the future.  Throughout the range there was a thread of polish over supremely ripe and juicy fruit. The reds went perhaps a little heavy handed on the new oak, which Miriam recognizes and states that from the 2012 vintage they’re starting to pull back. The star was undoubtably the Maria Cvetic Trebbiano, which is named after her Croatian born mother. After her father’s passing 10 years ago, Maria took charge of all winemaking, until just a few years ago when Miriam took control of the Villa Gemma range. The wines are delicious and a testament to their warm Central Italy origins.

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The we rushed off to the University Club for a Wine & Food Society tasting featuring Barolo & Barbaresco. I didn’t really know what to expect, but always like an excuse to go to the University Club, and this proved well worth it. 12 wines – 7 Barbarescos and 5 Barolos – and an in depth talk about the regions from Ian D’Agata, Senior Editor of Vinous Media.

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Barbaresco has lower elevation than Barolo and sits atop blue grey Tortonian soils, where, by and large, Barolo is larger, higher – upwards of 400m in some places – and has a huge range of soils, most of which are red and yellow. All of these factors, plus many more, make for large differences in soils.

Barbaresco used to be considered second to Barolo, but that’s largely due to its small size and lack of outstanding producers. Today this simply isn’t the case. After tasting through 300+ different Nebbiolos in Piedmont back in 2017, I can attest to the high level of quality felt throughout both regions.

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The Barbarescos were generally more subtle, floral and lighter bodied than the Barolos, as expected, but what was interesting was the amount of tannin throughout the entire range. Some were massive as you would expect, but more than just a few – Orlando Abrigo, Adriano Vittorio, & Albina Rocca Barbarescos, and Boroli, Rivetto Barolos – were more powdery and refined.

The Barolos were definitely darker in color and generally more full bodied and tart than Barbaresco, but I think given blind it would be incredibly difficult to separate these out.

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Favorites of the night were wines I had never heard of, Cascina Alberta Barbaresco Giacone 2015 – perfumed, earthy, with a delicious balsamic lift (love me some VA!), this was incredibly rich and lovable. On the Barolo side, Marrone Barolo Bussia 2013 was a star and a throw back to old school styles with tart cherry fruit, spice and sauvage, and a ton of power behind its fine grained tannins.

A solid kickstart to a busy week ahead. Tonight I’d leading a corporate tasting for 25, my first of these in a long time. Tomorrow lunch with Jay Ginsberg, my HK employer who I have not seen in nearly 3 years, and then a ladies lunch Thursday with my favorites from Moet Hennessy. Studying. Too. Somewhere….

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