For part two of the series of reds from my favorite region of Italy, I paired the 2008 vintage of Conti Speroni Collection Terroirs Barbaresco with home-cooked pork chops in a white worcestershire sauce with much success. The delicious chops were compliments of my in-laws and their annual Christmas gifting of two crates of frozen cuisine from Omaha Steaks.
The wine poured an expected ruby-garnet color with some noticable rim variation. This is indicative of the aging on the wine, as well as the characteristic lighter color of the variety, Nebbiolo. The rim will change to a brick-orange hue as its aged for several years. Barbaresco is traditionally a bit lighter than its big cousin Barolo. And while once considered the lesser of the two, Barbaresco is coming close if not equal in quality, save for perhaps a reputation well-protected by makers of Barolo. Therefore it is also less costly. Another reason for the lesser cost is the time required to age and vinify it is significantly less. But this doesn’t mean its not high quality. It too is a DOCG wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), meaning of the highest quality and its vinification processes, varieties and aging time ‘guaranteed’ by the wine authorities of Italy and the EU. And as I mentioned in part one, Piedmont has the largest number of DOC and DOCGs in all of Italy.
Nebbiolo however isn’t just found in Barolo and Barbaresco. Other regions in Piedmont employ the variety as well, albeit with blending allowed. Generally speaking, Piedmont is the home of Nebbiolo, though it is not the most common or widely grown in the region by any measure.
When young, Nebbiolo is highly tannic and acidic, but as this wine is from the 2008 vintage it is nicely mellowed. Malolactic fermentation also aids this mellowing. The Nebbiolo grape is among the earliest to bud and latest to ripen here as well, providing more fruit on the palate. In this level of wine, the finest vineyard sites are selected, typically facing southwest on slopes a few hundred feet high.
Now, how about the wine? On the nose were distinct red and black cherry notes, some spice and subtle oak. On the palate there was more cherry, medium tannins, and peppery spice. It was medium in body and had a nice lingering finish. Overall it was well balanced, with everything in the right place.
I am always amazed at how affordable Italian wines are in the United States, most likely as a result of how much is imported. This one was only $18, which is well below the $30 plus you’d spend on most quality Barbarescos! While not the very best one I’ve had, its a very good quality wine I would serve, and can afford. Apparently the italians are a bit shocked we import so much of their wine. I don’t know why. They must keep the REALLY good stuff for themselves!