Then it was off to France at stupid o'clock the next morning for a weekend of dancing. Dizziness, headaches and vomiting continued but it was France. I tried to kill or cure. We had some Haut Medoc and some Saint Joseph. Sadly, neither warranted a photo or it's own review... This confirmed my feelings about French red wine. You have to have a lot of money or a lot of patience if you're buying most of the wines from the prestigious areas.
The whites are a lot more accessible. I enjoyed a lovely glass of Macon (Chardonnay from Burgundy) with lunch. I enjoyed it so much I went back to the same place for lunch the next day. Not bad for a 3€ glass. So more of Macon later.
I've also been busy buying wines for some tasting events I'll be running this month. I pride myself on finding wines to surprise and delight, and love finding great (value) alternatives to people's "stuck in a rut" favourites. My own weak point is Italian wine. It's not the one I choose in restaurants, bars, online or in the wine store. I dread the day that a client gives me their list of favourites and it is all Italian. This may have something to do with the "Italian wine" question in my recent contest reminding me just how much there is to know (that I don't).
My theory here was that this could become a Bargain Barolo. Both wines are made from the Nebbiolo grape, both grown in Piemonte in northern Italy, and the slopes of Langhe are just 10 miles from Barolo. Like the iconic French reds, Barolo also requires patience, but I'd been reliably informed by my recent studies that Barbaresco rewards earlier. The tannins are softened more quickly by the slight maritime influence on the local climate. So, at 4 years old, I had hopes. The label hinted at "scents of rose" (oh how I'm a sucker for rose flavours), and "cherry and liquorice" on the palate. All in all this sounded like the ideal wine to open when Mr Purple Teeth was not around. Don't let the lighter colour fool you. This is a full bodied and robust wine. The weight in the mouth is good, although there's not the viscosity of some of the bigger, darker wines we've been drinking lately.
It hadn't the complexity or length of finish I'd been hoping for - especially as the label declared I should expect a long finish. I doubt many die-hard Barolo fans would be fooled, but for the price, this is a good introduction to what the Nebbiolo grape can offer. Bright red fruit, mouthwatering acidity making it a great partner for strong hard cheese, lifted floral notes (I got more violet than rose, but maybe that's just me), and a pleasing body coupled with some hints of oaky spice, which hadn't yet evolved into the meaty, leathery flavours I'd hoped for.
Well-made Barbaresco probably doesn't come into it's prime for at least 5 years after the vintage, so perhaps this one will improve, though my feeling is that this isn't complex enough in it's flavour components to develop interestingly enough to make it worth keeping. But if you fancy a mid-week hit of Barolo and the budget won't run to it, I guess this might just suffice. And if you've never tried Nebbiolo before, it's a reasonably accessible way to do so.
Mr PT came home unexpectedly early and tried it blind without any knowledge whatsoever. It's not the blockbuster style he tends to love. He doesn't do subtle. But this really grew on him, and with the addition of M&S Cornish Cruncher cheddar cheese he'd have happily had more than his fair share, though at the regular price of £9.99 he'd definitely choose something else.
We're not Italophiles just yet, but it's work in progress. And with more "small wins" like this one, I'm encouraged to keep on with my studies. I'd love to hear about your favourite Italian wines, bargain or budget-buster, so do get in touch either on my facebook page, twitter or google+ or in the comments below.
Arrividerci! Ciao! Sante! Cheers!