Home Sweet Home (The Irony Of Barbera At MyNameIsBarbera.com)

My latest article looking back on my Monferrato gig is now live over at MyNameIsBarbera.com, and it’s my next-to-last for that gig. The fact that the phrase “Home, Sweet Home” appears in the post, and yet the article entirely lacks and references to Mötley Crüe is, admittedly, a severe and egregious oversight, but otherwise I think that the writing is solid (both mine and that of Nikki Sixx, I mean).

In this penultimate piece, I talk about a strange irony of the well-traveled Barbera grape variety; to wit (and if you’ll at least temporarily forgive the douchebaggery of quoting myself):

“In having this true sense of place, there’s an endearing irony in Barbera d’Asti. Few red wine grapes have seen as much globe-trotting expansion as It, and yet its best and most versatile incarnations and intimately tied to just a single, special place.”

Click on the link below to check it out (preferably while drinking some Barbera d’Asti).

LOOKING BACK ON BARBERA

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Monferrato Love Letter

My gig with the Barbera and Monferrato folks over at MyNameIsBarbera.com has come to an end, and so you’ll be seeing a couple of wrap-up posts of mine over there as the 2018 Summer hits high season and then fades into Autumn (by far the best time of the year, especially in my neck of the planetary woods).

The first of these is available now for your reading pleasure, and it takes the form of a kinda-sappy-but-then-again-maybe-not-so-sappy love letter to the Monferrato region as a whole.

Monferrato Love Letter

Of course, I’m going to miss visiting the place, until I get my skinny ass back there, I mean. In order to fully understand why I’m going to miss this Piedmontese jewel so much, all of that is explained with admittedly a modicum of annoying affectation in my latest My Name Is Barbera article…

I LOVE MONFERRATO

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The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

Another day at the “office”

Back in February, I spent a handful of days in the charmingly-imposing Italian town of Montefalco, as the U.S. media guest attending the anteprima showing of Sagrantino’s somewhat-troubled 2014 vintage.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)Generally, the way that these things work is that we press-types get to sit around in beautiful locales tasting (and pontificating upon) the latest – and usually not-so-latest – vintages of a region, when we’re not attending dinners or visiting nearby producers, I mean. Just another day at the office…

After highlighting a handful of producers from that visit, I thought that I would wrap up the Sagrantino-related coverage here by sharing some of what I found to be among the more interesting wines that I encountered on that anteprima trip. Some of these wines will, in true 1WD form, be nigh-impossible to find, though most won’t; but think of this less as the brain-dump of tasting notes that it is, and more of an enthusiastic recommendation of some of Montefalco’s best producers.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I have what feels like ten billion wines to tell you about; and so, let’s get it started in here while the base keep runnin’ runnin’, and runnin’ runnin’…

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

2015 Tenuta Alzatura Rosso di Montefalco (Umbria, $NA)

We can’t – well, we can, but we shouldn’t – forget one of Montefalco Sagrantino’s little vinous brothers, Rosso di Montefalco, which in Cecchi Alzatura’s case hails from three different vineyards supplying the Sangiovese, Merlot, and Sagrantino making up the blend; a key advantage since, as Agronomo Alessandro Mariani told me, “In Montefalco, everything is in small pieces.” This offering is textbook for the region: chewy, sexy, plummy, and spicy.

2007 Tenuta Alzatura “Uno di Dieci” Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $31)

When it comes to the burly Sagrantino grape, having perspective in essential, so it helps to taste something from an older, excellent vintage to get said perspective, as I was fortunate enough to do with Alzatura’s `07 incarnation of their “Uno di…” series. This is still young, but has kept its round, ripe, and generous fleshiness. Earthy, dark, leathery, juicy, and fruity, this one has character, power, and poise.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

Scacciadiavoli’s imposing cellar

2015 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso Riserva (Umbria, $46)

So… yeah, you’ve heard of these guys, who famously threw out their first vintage back in the 1970s, and now at 136 hectares of vines and 800,000+ bottles of wine a year are among the larger producers in the region. They’re fans of extended oak aging which, seemingly paradoxically, smooth out the rougher and ample Sagrantino tannins by adding more tannin (and thus elongating the tannin molecule chains and makes for a potentially silkier mouthfeel overall.  This Rosso Riserva sees twenty months in oak, and it’s hot, burly, and big, while also being spicy, supple, and plummy. Get a good steak, because you’ll need it with this.

2014 Arnaldo-Caprai “25 Anniversario” Sagrantino di Montefalco Riserva (Umbria, $75)

This Sagrantino is the result of vineyard and barrel selections, resulting in a concentrated, meaty, and excellent red that’s crazy spicy, crazy powerful, and crazy smooth. The tannins might be supple, but they are also significant and abundant; the wine will definitely age, and it definitely requires it.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

NV Scacciadiavoli Rosé Vino Spumante Brut Metodo Classico (Umbria, $NA)

And now for something completely different… here’s a side of Sagrantino that one rarely sees: namely, a “feminine” take. In this case, the burly grape is picked on the early side and given the Champagne treatment, including sur lie aging. The result is a combination of ripe red apple, brioche, and citrus tones, and is eminently gulpable.

2014 Di Filippo ‘Etnico’, Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria, $NA)

This is a minor triumph of the challenging `14 vintage; laden with tobacco spice, ripe and tart plum fruit, and serious structure/grip, this is about as elegant as a young Sagrantino can get.

2014 Di Filippo Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria, $50)

Tighter than a tourniquet, which has the advantage of temporarily showcasing freshness and minerality along with the more common Sagrantino elements of sipcy tobacco. This might not be ready for drinking until Elon Musk’s Roadster collides back into Earth…

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

Scacciadiavoli’s other imposing cellar

2014 Moretti Omero Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $36)

This gets very dark, very quickly, and moves from silky to mineral and gritty almost as quickly. Layers of herbal spiciness and dark fruits hint at something special ahead (if you can wait for it).

2014 Rocca di Fabbri Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $30)

Ohhhhhh! This one is getting very, very fresh with us! While it’s not the most complex Sagrantino you will encounter, the core structural elements and typicity are ridiculously strong with this excellent Sagrantino example. Taken with the acidic lift, it’s a winning combo.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

2014 Fattoria Colleallodole Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco “Colleallodole” (Umbria, $45)

There’s so much going on here, it’s almost a little overwhelming at first blush; tobacco, herbs, flowers, mint, leather, plums… and lest you think that all of that reveal this early on might hint at a shorter aging curve, there are a shit-ton of tannins included for good measure to prove you wrong.

2014 Lungarotti Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $45)

Graphite, spices, and lots (and lots) of dark-fruited generousity, especially considering the vintage. It’s also powerful (and even a tad hot), but will make the steakhouse crowd very, very happy.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

2014 Cantina Fratelli Pardi “Sacrantino” Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria, $NA)

This single vineyard Sagrantino bears a name that hearkens back to the wine’s past, but is quite modern in presentation. Minty, brambly, and showing off black cherry, plum, and sweet tobacco action, this starts smooth, gets a nice lift in the middle, and ends powerfully and long. And I mean powerfully – at over 16% abv, this one will could get you onto your knees in pseudo-religious-prayer formation, and in short order.

2014 Valdanguis “Fortunato” Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $NA)

Fortune favors the bold, and in this case, also the grippy, leathery, and spicy. Tobacco, dark cherry, game meat, and even a hint of salinity make this one one of the more compelling Sagrantino releases of the vintage, in my not-so-humble opinion.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

Tenuta Bellafonte

2014 Tenuta Castelbuono “Carapace” Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $38)

Part of the Lunelli group of brands, this wien is named after their famous tortuga shell-shaped edifice, which I can tell you from firsthand experience is a sort of odd wonder of design and construction. While the building might seem a bit on the whimsical side (and look like the giant Gamera decided to retire and become a winery), this Sagrantino isn’t fooling around at all. Elegant cigar spices, dried herbs, black and red cherry fruit, mineral, and even hints of roses are all packed into a fascinating aromatic profile.

2014 Cantine Adanti Arquata Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, $45)

Tied up tight with sprigs of mint and other dried herbs, this red reveals little on the nose but starts to hint at great chewy fruitiness on the palate. That is, before said palate also tightens up into serious grip.

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

2014 Tenuta Bellafonte “Collenottolo” Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria, $50)

You gotta admire the tenacity of this producer, who make 30,000 bottles a year from only estate fruit, and with only two wines in the portfolio. Going back in time with their vintages of Collenotolo was a treat, and it showcased how much their investment has paid off over the years (when asked how much that investment amounted to, owner Peter Heilbron replied “Too much! But pleasure has no price!”). The `14 Collenotolo is floral, herbal, earthy, minty, and full of cherries and spices on the palate. Sweet plums eventually take over, and the whole experience of drinking it is so nice that one feels compelled to keep going…

2013 Cantina Bartoloni “Essentia” Bianco Umbria Passito (Umbria, $NA)

It seems fitting to wrap all of this Montefalco-ing up with something uniquely Montefalco. While there’s plenty of dessert-style passito made from Sagrantino to be found in the area, the “Essentia” showcases Trebbiano instead, with no oak treatment. Apricot, sultana, and floral perfume on the enticing nose move to a soft palate entry, then to a sense of freshness, finishing with citrus peel and honey. All of which you’d need, too, if you had to wash down all of those burly, young Sagrantino reds…

The Almost-Full Monty (Montefalco Sagrantino Anteprima 2014)

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My Name Is *Still* Nizza (Drinking Monferrato’s Older Top Reds With MyNameIsBarbera.com)

Hey, remember when I waxed all dime-store-poetic about the longevity and power of Barbera reds from the relatively-new, tippy-top-of-the-Asti-area-quality-pyramid region of Nizza?

Well, I do.

Anyway, if you’re curious how the highest-end Piedmonte Barbera wines fare when they have upwards of a decade of aging under their labels, check out the latest video in my Barbera in the Glass series for MyNameIsBarbera.com.

This episode features the second portion of my tasting with Tenuta Olim Bauda head honcho Gianni Bertolino, in which we delve in-depth into a couple of older vintages of their Nizza wines, and I kind of have my mind blown and gesticulate wildly with my hands while I make funny faces trying to express how good those wines really are. It’s a quick watch, and definitely worth a viewing if you’re one of the true lovers of Monferrato wine (and if you’re not… what the actual f–k is wrong with you?!??).

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My Name Is… Nizza… (Drinking Monferrato’s Top Reds With MyNameIsBarbera.com)

You might have read about the venerable Tenuta Olim Bauda (and its head honcho, Gianni Bertolino) here before, as I’ve previously covered my gig promoting Italy’s incredible Monferrato region over at at MyNameIsBarbera.com. Back in December, the MNiB team had produced video of me getting the low-down from Bertolino on Nizza, the relatively new tippy-top of the Barbera DOCG quality pyramid.

Well, we’ve got some more vid from that session, this time covering the first part of my Nizza tasting with Bertolino, during which I get introduced to more recent vintages of the (quite excellent) stuff. You can jealously watch me gulping down some tasty Nizza reds int he embedded video below. Next up in the series will probably be the second half of that tasting, in which I get to drink older Nizza vintages to see if they live up to their age-ability hype.

Tough job, right?

Barbera in the Glass: Nizza Tasting #1

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Red Dawn, In The Glass (Tasting Albarossa In Monferrato)

For the most recent installment of the Monferrato in the Glass series over at MyNameIsBarbera.com, we provide another deeper dive into the vinous wares of the region, once again with Bava‘s Paolo Bava.

Paolo introduces me to Piedmonte’s version of Red Dawn: Albarossa. Albarossa has a unique history, even by historical-embarrassment-of-riches Italian standards. It’s actually relatively new, and something that really only could have been conceived within the hilly borders of Piedmonte (you can read up a bit more on Albarossa’s storied past here).

After viewing the vid below, you’ll have a much better idea of why drinking this wine will make you want to pronounce Albarossa with a slow, voluptuous, sing-songy Italian accent.

AAAAHL-baaahhh-ROOOOWWWW-ssssaaaahhhhhhh…..

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Hungry Canines, Thirsty Dudes (Tasting Nizza Barbera For MyNameIsBarbera.com)

Is there anything more adorable than a Weimaraner happily chomping on Barbera grapes in a Monferrato vineyard? Besides maybe a Weimaraner puppy eating grapes in that vineyard?

That’s the question that we pose (sort of) in the latest Monferrato Moves installment over at MyNameIsBarbera.com. In that video (also embedded below), I have the pleasure of sitting down with Tenuta Olim Bauda‘s Gianni Bertolino, who, aside from owning dogs and making incredibly serious, long-lived, and tasty Barbera, also happens to be President of the Associazione dei Produttori del Nizza. So, he knows a couple (of hundred) things about the tippy-top of the Barbera DOCG quality pyramid.

In this vid, Bertolino and I taste through a couple of more recent Nizza DOCG releases, and I don’t spit, which should tell you something about how good his wines are. Enjoy!

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Wild And Crazy… About Quality (Talking Girgnolino And Barbera Co-Ops MyNameIsBarbera.com)

Let’s bid adieu to November, in our hazy, Post-THanksgiving-Holiday trytophanic bliss, by catching up on the happenings over at My Name Is Barbera (for whom I’ve been doing both written and video work helping to promote Barbera – and other – wines from the Monferrato area).

First, there’s a lips-eye-view (yeah, I agree, that phrase was a bad idea) of Monferrato’s vinous equivalent of a Wild and Crazy Guy, Grignolino. I’ve written about this wily, overachieving red grape before, but here’s a chance to get up close and personal with it through a video tasting of Grignolino wine with Paolo Bava, whose passion for these wines will quickly be evident once you start watching.

Next, we get back to our normal programming, which means focusing on Barbera. In an interesting twist, in the next vid we move away from the relatively small production outfits that have been the focus of much of our previous journey through Monferrato’s Barbera producers, and talk with Lorenzo Giordano of Vinchio Vaglio (who just celebrated their 30th anniversary, with an event at which I was supposed to speak, but couldn’t attend because I got wicked sick… and yeah, I’m still a little raw about it, thankyouverymuch…). As you’ll see in the vid below, Girodano oversees a sizeable cooperative operation, and so has a unique, 20,000-foot view of Barbera throughout the region, and through all of its various quality levels.

Cheers!

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WOLVERINES! (Talking Albarossa For MyNameIsBarbera.com)

For my latest installment over at MyNameIsBarbera.com, we go in-depth on Incrocio Dalmasso XV-31, better known as Albarossa… as in Red DawnWOLVERINES!!!

The Albarossa grape has a history that winds almost as much as the roads throughout the Piedmont hillsides, and in its own inimitable, roundabout way ended up achieving what its creator set out to accomplish, though not exactly in the way that he intended. All of which is just so adorably typical of Monferrato.

If you’re interested in learning what this iteration of Red Dawn can do for you, check out the full story via the link below (invasions and grenades not required):

ALBAROSSA! A NEW RED DAWN IN PIEDMONT

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Like A True Nature’s Child (Exploring The Wildness Of Grignolino)

My latest article for the online celebration of all things vinous in Monferrato, MyNameIsBarbera.com, is now available; and in it, I explore the born-to-be-wildness of one of Italy’s most unsung fine wine grapes, Grignolino.

If you’ve never tried a good Grignolino before, you’re un-enviably currently missing out, but are enviably in for a real treat – it’s one of the most unique red wine drinking experiences you’re likely to have, and therefore one of the most geekily memorable, as well.

Hit up the link below for the full article. When you’re finished reading, if you find yourself feeling the kind of thirst that only a Grignolino is gonna quench, I suggest hunting for one from Vini Evasio Garrone, based in Grana. They won’t be easy to find, but they’re worth the effort. One of that family-run business’  head-honchos, Dante Garrone, is a tireless champion of the grape; he also happens to be a good guy and a serious Raiders of the Lost Ark fan…

GRIGNOLINO D’ASTI: BORN TO BE WILD

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