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

My familiarity with wines from northern Italy is not as robust as I would like but this bottle was a fun initiation into the wines of Barolo. 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 me, as we decided to try another local eatery, and having just returned from Italy, I thought it was time 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 warm evenings, considering the vast patio presence. It looks like it'd be a great place to grab a tasty bit of Italian cuisine on a balmy 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 pleased to find this beautiful expression of Barolo 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 a palette of beautiful flavors and aromas. After having the bottle uncorked for me, apparently in restaurants uncorking your own is frowned upon [what eve's]. Upon the waiter successfully opening 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 the day (hello North Carolina).

The aromas bouncing upon me like my poodles 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 licorice, 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 velvety tannins (Ooh, la, la) stretched out on a sprawling canvas, 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 its 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 opens its doors, with an Italian cuisine 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, one highly sought-after by budding wine enthusiast as the classical style of Barolo, without the big price tag. It’s a bottle of wine that falls just short of the two Jackson territory, and into what I often describe as the "reasonable range." Especially so when we’re talking about Barolo, as many wines from that region can easily fetch astronomical price points, that even Galileo Galilei would have found among the constellations.

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 reader's 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 popular communes of Barolo are the Castiglione 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 more significant, 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 desires 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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