Barbaresco

Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva 1997 Paje’. I bought this bottle in an enoteca in Desenzano, Italy just before the Euro replaced the Italian Lira. It’s price in Lira was around 30,000 Lira (+ $15-20!). I just opened it tonight and what an amazing experience from start to finish (it didn’t last long). Beautiful, medium dark with slightly brick colored edges, the aromas immediately grabbed my attention: dark, sweet wild plums, dried dark cherries, a bit of tobacco, wet wood and leather with very subtle spice undertones. The wine is holding well now and would continue to do so in the bottle, but alas I bought only one! Sweet flavors of dried cherries, a classic Barbaresco in every sense, not too big, really drinkable on it’s own, yet it expanded with a bit of pepper in the marsala chicken accompanied by grilled zucchini and eggplant we made for dinner. The tannins are soft but firm – a truly enjoyable Barbaresco from a producer that is perhaps more known for their average wines since they are a collective, or “Cantina Sociale”. However the Paje’ is a “cru” worthy of your attention. They made 12,270 bottles and this one was number 10903. 4 years of aging. 13.5% alcohol. Marvelous! 93+

Carlo Giacosa Barbaresco 2008 “Narin.”  I bought this bottle after having lunch in Barbaresco last summer, 2011. We were leaving Pimonte from Barolo, having visited some very good friends and wine producers and it happened to be lunch time – the “sacred hour” in Italy. We drove off the main road and up the winding hill to Barbaresco and there was nothing open on this hot August day, and no more than three or four lost pilgrims like ourselves wandering the streets. Normally called “tourists,” let’s have some respect for the Nobile Nebbiolo grape and Barbaresco which easily makes a pilgrim of any dedicated wine lover! (Delicate Angles singing on high, in perfect harmony “aaaaaaahhhhhh!”)

Traversing the small village center, we found a lone restaurant open, and as we were a bit early, no one was there except the owner who doubled as bar tender and waiter. A beautiful place, we had a fantastic pasta and a couple of glasses of this wine. When leaving, I asked where I could buy a bottle and was directed to the communal enoteca in the main square around the corner where I continued my Barbaresco tasting with a few more open bottles. This is the Italy I truly love.

The wine has a beautifully striking nose of spices, wood, violets, aromatics and dried fruit. The taste is lovely, medium bodied but with strong tannins and a very good balance between the fruit and wood. A delicious lunchtime wine, it now holds up for several days on my kitchen counter with a variety of meals. At 16 euro a bottle, it gives far more pleasure than the price might indicate, and that’s why I highly recommend this very well-made and lovely perfumed wine. Nothing too intense, yet completely satisfying! 89++ May, 2012

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