November 15, 2007

Piedmont Tasting - Barolo, Barbera and more!

The wines of Piedmont, especially Barolos, are world-renowned. This week, we will have 2 top winemakers from Piedmont here in Freeport showcasing their wines, Mauro Veglio and Gianfranco Alessandria. They are cousins and each of them leads a small winery.

This is a rare treat - we don't often get many winemakers in Maine - and it's rare to get two of the top Barolo producers here at the same time - we want to thank Ned Swain of Devenish Wines from helping put this together. These winemakers produce world-class wines!

The tasting is at the Hilton Garden Inn because Maine law only permits a retail store to have one wine tasting per month. There is a small fee, $10, to taste this flight of 6 wines - restaurants and bars are not permitted to give away alcohol in Maine. Bear in mind, 3 of these wines will retail for approximately $60/bottle - so, $10 is a small price to pay for an opportunity to taste such great wines!

The Hilton Garden Inn has a wonderful bar that is comfortable and a perfect venue for a small event such as this!

What will we taste?

2 Barolos, one Dolcetto, 2 Barbera d'Albas and a wine unique to only 8 winemakers in Barolo, L'Insieme!

We are thrilled and pleased that we can share these wines with you and offer you the opportunity to meet these two wonderful winemakers! The L'Insieme is a unique wine in the Langhe - it is a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each year, 8 Barolo winemakers produce their own versions of L'Insieme....and at least $120,000 of the proceeds from the wine are donated to charities around the world. It is internationally known and respected as a wonderful, unique wine from Piedmont!

The Wines!
(you may buy any of these wines from Freeport Cheese & Wine)

Mauro Veglio Dolcetto d'Alba 2005 - $15.99 - Excellent wine! Aromas of plums, flowers, almonds and earth. Medium-bodied. Light, firm tannins. Medium-length finish. Drink now through 2008. 1,000 cases made.

Mauro Veglio Barbera d'Alba 2005 - $17.99 - a soft, ripe, medium-bodied red that tastes wonderful! Soft mouthfell. Easy-going wine with a lot of layers. Delicious. Flavors of passion fruit, red berries and minerals. Bright, fresh finish! Drink now. 700 cases made.

Mauro Veglio Barolo Castelletto 2000 - $59.99 - This is AWESOME with a capital "A." Aromas of blackberries, cherries, plums, eucalyptus, leather, flowers and spices. Full-bodied. Lots of intensity. Rich fruit and mineral flavors. Good tannic structure. Big, chewy and elegant! From a single vineyard in Monforte. 500 cases made. This wine will be long-lived and it is still a baby in terms of age. Should last through 2015, at least. Wine Spectator, 92 points; Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points; Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 91 points
Gianfranco Alessandria Barbera d'Alba 2005* - this is a delicious wine! Aromas of red and dark berries, earth and smoke. Medium-to-full bodied. Balanced acidity. Minerals on the finish along with fresh fruit. Drink now. 450 cases made.

Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2001* - Excellent wine! Aromas of flowers, spices, toasted oak and berries. Flavors of cherry, leather, anise, earth and tar. Firm tannins. Full-bodied. Chewy. Long and powerful. Juicy finish. Like most Barolos, this is just beginning to mature. Drink now - 2015. 300 cases made. Wine Spectator, 91 points

Gianfranco Alessandria L'Insieme 2003* - This is an awesome wine! Aromas and flavors of raspberries, licorice, mocha, chocolate and vanilla. Medium-bodied. Chewy tannins. Red and dark fruit and vanilla on the long finish. Blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. 100 cases made.

*We will have prices for the Gianfranco Wines at the tasting (the Barbera is probably in the teens, the Barolo and the L'Insieme will be $60, give or take some money.

The Wines of Piedmont
Piedmont produces many wines - Barbera d'Alba, Nebbiolo Langhe, Dolcetto d'Alba, Barbaresco, Moscato d'Asti, and, of course, the legendary Barolo.

These wines all represent different styles of wine. Barbera d'Alba is generally lighter (but, some Barberas are big, full-bodied wines), with lots of bracing acidity, a zippy quality, often rustic notes and bright fresh fruit. Nebbiolo (the grape of the Langhe, Barbaresco and Barolo) produces wines that are often light in color, but powerful in terms of flavors and aromas. Nebbiolo, like Pinot Noir, is a grape that is very sensitive to terroir, and the smallest changes in soil, altitude, micro-climate, etc., will produce a significantly different wine.

In the 1980's, the legendary Elio Altare began the winemaking revolution that has brought Barolo to such prominence. As the years passed, he has mentored winemakers such as Mauro Veglio. Without Elio Altare, we wouldn't see such great wines from Barolo.
Our Winemakers
Mauro Veglio

Like most families in the Langhe, the Veglios were "contadino," or farmers, who sold their grapes to the local cooperative. That generally meant a great harvest equalled more grapes and quality didn't matter as much....they made wine...but, not a lot (and most was made for personal consumption)...the wines they made had to take a back seat to other farming tasks - harvesting the grain, olives, gathering firewood, etc.

Mauro and Daniela Veglio wanted to raise the quality of their grapes and their wines. At Elio Altare's urging, they did. In 1992, they started producing wines under their own label. Veglio studied well under Altare - as his Barolos are widely respected. They farm sustainably. To improve quality, they dramatically reduce yields in the vineyards. They built a new winery and began using better winemaking techniques. They utilize shorter maceration periods, rotor-fermenters, temperature-controlled fermentation & aging in French oak barriques. They make refined, elegant wines!

Gianfranco Alessandria

Gianfranco took over managing his family's farm in 1986, after the passing of his father. He continued the family's practice of selling off his grapes from the 5.5 hectares of vineyard land his father had amassed. At the end of the 1980's, at the urging of his cousin, Mauro Veglio, he began bottling small portions of his harvest. The first Barolo came with the 1993 vintage, which was awarded "Three Glasses" (the highest award), by Italy's leading wine publication, Gambero Rosso.

The new winery, which is attached to their home, was finished in 1996, and that was the first year of full production. While modernizing the facilities refined the winemaking, it did not change Alessandria's belief that the land of Monforte d'Alba and the vines are what produce the best, like his cousin, he practices sustainable agriculture, minimizing his influence on the soil and land. He produces stunning wines!