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Jan Advocate 2017

64 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 1 JANUARY 2017 as “the wine of kings and the king of wines”. The former is known as “the Queen”. But, for the Piemontese, wine is part of a larger landscape and naturally incorporates into its consumption the goodness found within the earth and upon it. Simply put, in Piemonte, wine and food are inseparable. One does not sip a Barolo or Barbaresco at a cocktail party. These are serious wines that demand by their very nature the accompaniment of good food and preferably Piemontese cuisine, to which it is ideally suited. There is perhaps no better match to the wines of this region than risotto or fresh pappardelle served simply with local wild mushrooms or, even better, a smattering of the pungent white truffle for which the region is famous. Barolo and Barbaresco take their names from villages. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape, named after the ubiquitous fog (“nebbia”) that engulfs the many hills on which the vineyards lie. The scents and flavour profile of Nebbiolo are unlike any other red wine. In a wine-drinking world that tends to prefer big and bold flavours of dark berry fruit such as those found in Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, the late-maturing Nebbiolo grape stands alone—although some would say it is the Italian cousin to Burgundy’s Pinot Noir. The scent of a Barolo is perhaps the most memorable of its qualities. One can often detect raspberry or cherry fruit but it is the suggestion of truffles, tar and violet that makes it so distinctive. Not unlike the wines of Burgundy where notable differences in flavour can be detected from vineyard to vineyard, Barolo in particular shows distinct variations of flavour between micro-regions located only a few miles from each other. The wines produced around the towns of Barolo and La Morra, for example, are somewhat lighter than the more masculine wines of Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba located to the east. Barbaresco differs from Barolo in that it is located further north and east and in lower-lying lands that are warmer and more affected by fog. The soil contains a higher level of nutrients and the grapes mature earlier, thus producing a slightly less fully ripened and less tannic wine. Generally speaking, Barbaresco wines are also released earlier than Barolo, with only two years of aging as opposed to three years for Barolo, and they tend to mature earlier in the bottle. The differences are subtle. Both Barolo and Barbaresco are wines that can be aged for many years. Indeed, they improve immensely with age and therefore require a bit of patience for those who wish to experience the very best that these wines have to offer. While young, they tend to be somewhat astringent. In fact, noted wine writer Hugh Johnson once commented that Barolo “can give the palate a wrestling match”. But over time Barolo develops a softness and multi-layered complexity that make the wait all the more worthwhile. Even at a young age,


Jan Advocate 2017
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