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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Piedmont Uncorked: 2003 Beni di Batasiolo Barolo

“To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

And to me not having as much familiarity as I would like with the great wines of Barolo is a crying shame. Something I aim to correct, starting with this gem I brought from home [byob], from a small collection of these wines quietly acquired over the years. This particular wine has been sitting in my cellar for quite a while and well tonight was my "open that bottle night".

Dining-out is still a treat for Mrs. Cuvee and I, we decided to try another local eatery, and having just returned from Italy, I thought it was time to to give this new-to-me Italian Restaurant here in East Lake, called Villa Capri a swirl. You'll find it situated in a quiet corner of town, just off Proctor Valley Road, obviously a spot designed for many a warm evenings, considering the huge patio presence. It looks like it'd be a great place to grab a tasty bit of Italian cuisine on warm evening, in the early summer months and take-in the weekend entertainment.

For those who don't know, wines from Italy's Barolo commune, are produced from the Nebbiolo grape. Don't be confused with the any of the feeble attempts of those slapping Nebbiolo on the label here in the New World, because they're nothing like the wines produced from the same grapes found in Piedmont, try as they may.

Again for those just now joining this blog for the first time or perhaps your a wine newbie, the wines from this region are still very well regarded by many vino-sapiens [myself included] as one of the kings of Italian grapes [yes plural]. I was very happy to find this wonderful expression of Barola from a great producer filling my glass at the dinner table.

In the glass you will find a classically powerful and full-bodied wine ready to rock your palate with palette of wonderful flavors and aromas. After having the bottle uncorked for me, obviously in restaurants uncorking your own is frowned upon [what eve's]. Upon the waiter successfully uncorking my wine and molesting the cork, he pours my first slurp for me, wow, bang, intense ruby red with a light presence of orange reflections filling the rim, like an old brick from the billets I use to live in back in day [hello North Carolina].

The aromas bouncing upon me like my poddles waiting for a snack, my senses are whacked with an elegant, yet intense, hint of withered roses, ripe dried plums, minerals, sweet tobacco, unsweetened black liquorice, smoked leather [who would do that?]. Finally, giving nodding approval to the waiter, letting him know the wine I brought in; is indeed fabulous so that he could go away until I was ready to order [grumble]. I found the wine to be deliciously full bodied, a crush of dark cherry and ripe plum, with an orange peel dancing near some very velvety tannins [Ooh, la, la] stretched out on a huge structure, full of complexity, leading to a long and lingering finish.

These wines can be quite tannic in their youth [mouth puckering], but this 2003 while relatively young, is drinking very nicely at the moment, as we linger long over dinner this wine continued open and expand it flavors. I decided to pair the wine against the Veal Scaloppini, a dish which to me is always the best measuring stick of any restaurant that would like to open its doors, with an Italian shingle.

The Barolo growing region lies to the southeast of the town Alba, Italy. This wine is what I would call a typical Piedmont style of wine and in its expression, a wine I would consider a highly sought-after classical style of Barolo, without the big price tag. It’s a wine that falls easily at $40, into the reasonable range, especially when we’re talking about Barolo, as many wines from that region can easily fetch astronomical price points, that even Galileo Galilei would have missed.

Since I knew I was going to be reviewing this wine today, I thought it would be a great time to dive back into my notes and glean a few observations from my copy of the Wine Lovers Companion and the WSET Advanced text. So here's the readers digest version: In what is known as the commune of Barolo; this is an area which is highly regarded for producing wines built for long term aging, thanks in part Nebbiolo's very tannic nature. Three of the more well known communes of Barolo are the Castig-lione Falletto, Serralunga d’ Alba, and last but not least is Monforte d’ Alba which are all located on Barolo’s eastern side. The general trend for wines from the east-side stylistically is a tip of the cap to wines which are bigger, brawnier, showing much more structure than any of their west-side counterparts. Wines from these regions need much more bottle time before you want to even consider approaching them, and lies in sharp contrast to the wines from the west side. 

Then of course there's the constant struggle of the traditionalist, who want to keep things the way they have always been versus the modernist, who wants to make their wines in what some call a more "international style", a wine culture wars of sorts. I hope this review has in some small way piqued your interest for your own journey into the wines of Barolo, I look forward to hearing your own thoughts and impressions. Until next time, sip long and prosper folks, cheers!

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