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Not Nebbiolo

It’s been an interesting spring and I was not really looking forward to the release of the 2014 Vintage of Barbaresco. I had experienced the weather first hand, had listened to the tales of woe and read the scribblings of the journalists who mainly focus on Barolo. After tasting 62 of the latest 2014 Barbarescos I have breathed a huge sigh of relief and bought a few. We all had our usual mumble about Barbaresco a Tavola being held too early in the year but aside from that it’s an excellent occasion to dine out with friends and discuss wine that we would never usually taste. The food at La Torre del Monastero is always excellent and €50 a head, including the tasting, represented remarkable value. I kind of liked what I tasted almost across the board; perhaps a little forward and without the complexity to last decades but fresh, well balanced and elegant. My advice is simple, buy them from the producers you trust or try them from the producers you don’t know. There are some very pleasant surprises out there. From what I hear Barolo is where the problems were and increasingly it seems that the micro-climate variations between Barolo & Barbaresco favour the latter. 2017 is also a year where the weather has already caused havoc with late frost and unusually early hail and it will prove to be “location, location, location!”

But while my heart belongs to Nebbiolo, and Barbaresco especially, with the recent hot weather I have been enjoying some nicely chilled Pelaverga from Cadia and Fratelli Alessandria. If you haven’t tasted it get yourself over to Verduno and try some at the Enoteca or Trattoria dei Bercau: I would also add Burlotto and Castello di Verduno to my list. It oozes strawberries and white pepper and according to the website it is believed to be an aphrodisiac, the vinous equivalent of beer goggles.

The Freisa from Stella is also perfect chilled and despite being a relative doesn’t quite have the tannins of  nebbiolo but lashings of fruit: a dry adult Pimms.  Their grignolino also fits the summer brief and is H(er) O(utdoors)’s favourite. Both grapes can be a bit of a minefield as there are wines out there that are effervescent and sweet. At the same time for an extremely serious Freisa the wood aged “Vughima” from Rapalino in Neviglie competes with the best Barbarescos and I think it’s their best wine.

Unusually I’ve even tried some Dolcetto that I’ve enjoyed thanks to Franco Rocca and Fratelli Alessandria.