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Monte Viso from Andrea Oberto

Fabio Oberto

As a generalisation, I object to paying up for Barolo for, an extra year in wood, which is not always a good thing, and the cache of the name. I don’t think the extra €10 or so a bottle is usually justified over equivalent Barbarescos. There are of course exceptions. Almost a year ago I tasted the wines of Andrea Oberto at the annual La Morra October tasting event and made a note to visit the cantina.

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity via Richard a mate who helps son Fabio hone his already excellent English. It proved to be a rewarding experience.

Andrea Oberto La Morra

Cantina Andrea Oberto La Morra

The weather was perfect affording a great view of Monte Viso and the wines all I remembered. Fabio’s father Andrea spent most of his life as a lorry driver and farmer and in his spare (?) time tended the 3 hectare of vineyards inherited from his father. Those 3h produced grapes that went to the local cooperative and demijohns of wine that were sold to private clients. Those humble but passionately driven beginnings have now evolved into 16h producing 100,000 bottles of red nectar sold all over the world. It was a 2 part tasting, the first part consisted of  a tour of the cantina and then the non Barolo wines:

Vignetto Vantrino Albarella Dolcetto 2009 – a superior Dolcetto from the best ripe grapes of selected old vines. Around 20% of the wine is matured for 6 months in new barrique adding a new dimension and structure. Ripe berries combine with good acidity to make this more a  dinner wine rather than a lunch one

Barbera d’Alba 2009 – young vines with around 40% spending 6 months in barrique (2nd passage). Good, straightforward Barbera

Barbera d’Alba, San Giuseppe 2009 – single cru barbera from older vines given similar  treatment. Spicy with nice acidity.

Barbera d’Alba, Giarda 2007 – their most important Barbera (1st vintage 2008) 14 months in all new wood; 6 months in stainless steel vats. Intense plummy nose, fruity soft finish. Complex and lovely

Langhe nebbiolo 2009 – made from vines too young to be called barolo (La Roche) but perhaps in 10 years time. Intense cherry nose with a hint of eucalyptus. A great introduction to the delights of Nebbiolo from La Morra at a reasonable price.

And suddenly it was lunchtime and we hadn’t got to the Barolos. No problem, we grabbed some and adjourned to La Libera in Alba to taste them with some decent Piemontese cuisine, what they were made for. Pausing along the way for an al fresco aperitivo of new world style Marchesi di Grésy Sauvignon Blanc at top Bar La Brasilera on Piazza Savona.

Unlike some of the tourist contributors on Trip Advisor we know what to expect from the Piemontese kitchen and the lunch that followed was top notch bringing out the best in Fabio’s takeaways that they happily opened for us. A nice assortment of antipasti, the tongue in particular was delicious, melt-in-the-mouth pork belly and  fillet of lampuga (no English translation for this Mediterranean fish).

Barolo Brunate 2007 – aged in a mixture of botte and barrique for 26 months or so. No spitting out this stunning Barolo. Despite it’s relative youth it is already approachable and a meal in itself but will improve for years. Everything you would expect, berries, spice, liquorice, leather, coffee. Superb complexity and length and a space in my cellar.

Barolo Roche 2006 – a touch more elegant than the Brunate but rather more tannic like most 2006s and needs time to show it’s class.

That’s the way to taste wine!

For once the wines are available in the UK, through Lea & Sandeman