This week I look at three excellent Nebbiolo wines from Piedmont, all of similar age as the region enjoyed a succession of great vintages at the turn of the century.
La Spinetta Barbaresco Valeirano 1999
Founded in 1977, the Rivetti family continues to expand their wine empire, with the recent purchase of the Piedmont sparkling house Contratto, following their expansion into Tuscany in recent years. However, they remain best-known for their rhino-decorated bottles containing excellent examples of Piedmont reds, including one of my perennial favourites, their Barbera d'Asti Ca' di Pian. Tonight we enjoyed one of their four Barbarescos, from the Valeirano vineyard in Treiso. Made in a modern style, and lacking some of the Nebbiolo character of the other two wines, this is a well-crafted robust wine, although without any time in a decanter it was a little closed. A lovely wine to drink with some hard cheese, for which the still-firm tannins called.
Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabajà 2000
Also established in the late 70's, Bruno Rocca's winery has established him as a leading figure in Piedmont's, even Italy's, wine firmament. His Rabaja 2000 was highly acclaimed on release, and I was excited to finally try it. Opened for some time on the day, but not decanted, the wine was very lively and aromatic from the outset, showing ripe fruit, minerality and wild roses. Very well made, great balance and texture. Over time it perhaps faded a little, whereas the Barolo (below) it was paired with continued to unfold, but it was still a truly beautiful wine.
Gianni Voerzio Barolo La Serra 1998
Although Gianni Voerzio may to some extent be hidden in the shadows of his neighbouring brother Roberto, his consistency and relative affordability make him a producer worth watching out for. His best wine is his La Serra Barolo, and 1998 was yet another superb vintage of this wine. Initially on the evening, the Barolo seemed lackluster by comparison to the brilliant Rabaja Barbaresco, despite having spent over an hour in a decanter. However, with further time in glass the Barolo kicked to a higher plane, exhibiting tar, black cherry and minerality in a way that only great aged Barolo can. Truly a pleasure to the last drop, and a reminder that some wines are hard to assess on a quick visit.