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Jan Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 65 these wines can be enjoyed, particularly if they are opened several hours before consumption. What some might view as a positive development in the production of Barolo and Barbaresco is that over the last 20 years some winemakers in Piemonte have abandoned older styles of vinification in favour of new world techniques. This has included a move from large Slovenian casks to smaller French barriques. The result has been a slight acceleration of the aging process and wines that are more approachable at an earlier stage in their development. The introduction of modern winemaking processes— while of benefit to the consumer—has sparked a passionate debate among Piemontese winemakers, with each side, sometimes within the same families, clinging to strongly held views about who is right. Possibly an even greater influence on Piemontese wine has been the forces of climate change, which have introduced slightly higher temperatures to the region. This warming has resulted in earlier ripening of the Nebbiolo grape and in some cases over-ripening. The benefit to the region and to wine consumers has been a string of very successful vintages in which the wines have shown more pronounced flavour and somewhat less acidity and astringency than in days gone by. If there is anything negative to be said about Barolos and Barbarescos, it is their price. They have become very expensive over the years. The wines of Angelo Gaja, for example, can be found readily in local British Columbia wine stores, but at a price of between $90 and $600. At the high end, you will find the 2012 vintage of Gaja’s world-famous Barbaresco. Yes, it is true that Gaja was revolutionary in his innovative wine-making techniques, and yes, he did put Italian Barbaresco on the world wine map. But at over $555 per bottle, this wine did not make it onto our tasting list and probably never will, as long as our income is derived from the practice of law. But it would make a lovely and generous gift. Fortunately, there are producers of Barolo and Barbaresco who craft high quality wines at relatively reasonable prices. Examples include Batasiolo, Fontanafredda, Produttori del Barbaresco and Damilano. Other producers to look for are Elio Grasso, Renato Ratti, Azelia, Ceretto, Domenico Clerico, Vietti, Prunotto, Paolo Conterno and Parusso. Although Piemonte is most famous for its “King” and “Queen” of wines, it is also home to a variety of local grapes, both red and white, that make up much of the everyday drinking in Piemonte and provide excellent quality and value. Unlike most regions in Italy where wines take their names from the place they come from, many wines in Piemonte are labelled varietally, as in Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba (grown


Jan Advocate 2017
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