Perhaps the most fun thing to do in the wine world, is to find a wine (almost) all by yourself. A wine that no one has heard of (yet), that you can (for a while) call your own, and, when it eventually becomes famous (and expensive), you can brag about having known the winemaker (way) before anybody else (using his first name), and having bought his or her wines at a fracture of the price they will cost then. You’re now officially among the wine elite, the one that leads the way in revealing the world’s great wines to the public.
This just happened to me. Well, almost. I came across a blog that raved about this young wine maker in Piemonte (it turned out to be a guy by the name of Strappo (or maybe it was Terence Hughes), of a wine importer by the name of Domenico Selections. Then, his name turned up on Tom Hyland’s blog, and I got nervous that this “trade secret” was going public before I’d even tasted the wines. Hey, even Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator fame found time to review them. It did however quiet down, and I have not heard or read anything since then, so my secret is safe for now.
Getting hold of the wines was a whole other matter. The winemaker has only 3.5 hectares of Nebbiolo (with vines up to 50 years old it shuld be said), and another hectare divided between Dolcetto and Barbera. With only 14,500 bottles produced, supply is scarce, you can imagine (up to 25.000 cases are yearly produced of the currently a bit more renowned Chateau Lafite Rotschild.
Anyways, I am lucky to have a great (wine) friend in Gary of Spirit Haus, Amherst, MA, and he showed foresight and got a sizable allocation from the US importer. And I was lucky to get his last 10 bottles of the 07 Barbaresco, and what was left of the 09 Dolcetto.
And, the winemaker? Well, he left Oenological college in 1998 and after a stint with Cinzano, dedicated himself to the family wine business in 2003. Having sold the grapes to other winemakers, most famously to Bruno Giacosa, that changed it 2005 when they started to make wine under their own label. Speaking of Giacosa, our secret winemaker is running the danger of being most famous for being the young winemaker that Dante Scaglione (Bruno Giacosa’s wingman for many many years, and after a couple of years’ absence, again his right hand man) approached when he set up his consultancy in 07. However, given the wines that I have been lucky enough to taste, as well as the quality of the family vineyards, I think his name some day will stand strong on its own. Much more about him here on the Muddy Boots blog http://bit.ly/cPb4id.
And, the wine? The 07 Barbaresco. From south- to southwest facing vineyard, in calcareous soil. Spends 12 months in Slovenian grandi botti. Plum and blackcurrant aromas, violets, minerally. Rich, but elegant. Complex. Very long finish. It’s probably a shame to drink it this young, as it should be an even more stunning wine some 10 years from now, but it is more than approachable today.
An slam dunk wine of the week, the 07 Barbaresco Roccalini from Cascina Roccalini. Way to go, Paolo (Veglio).