1996 Pertinace, Langhe:
70% nebbiolo, 15% barbera, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 13% alcohol, nine months in French oak and about $16, on sale; its juicy, balanced, texturally smooth, has some grip, is not over-wooded and is pretty long . . . but the mix just doesn’t work for me. Maybe this is someone’s idea of what a “super-Piedmont” wine should be but it seems compressed, a bit musky and like the top-end has been lopped off the nebbiolo both on the nose and palate. Certainly not a bad wine and good accompaniment to pizza, but less than the sum of its parts and I wouldn’t spend the money again.
2004 Giacosa, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore:
The freshest, just picked, red cherries – ripe, firm, pure, juicy and bursting with scent and flavor – for me, referencing moments when I was young and I helped my Mom cook a cherry pie from fruit we had just picked. Glorious, beyond words, lots of life in the cellar and about $30; I’d buy this again and again and again . . . (and did).
2004 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Bierzo Pétalos:
This is made of mencia, a variety that, I am told, is indigenous to the region; 13.5% alcohol; relatively straight-forward on the nose with red fruit and earth scents; much more intricate and layered on the palate and the texture is velvety; long, powerful finish. A balanced, plush rendition of the grape that is very easy to drink and, being the low-end bottling, it avoids the over-oaking that is often seen in more expensive wines from this area. About $16; I would buy it again.
2005 Quenard, Chignin Anne de la Biguerne:
12% alcohol and woven of gossamer. Stellar with smoked trout in endive. Terrific wine at about $10; buy again, many times.
1999 Chateau de Fonsalette, Syrah Reserve:
All terroir on the nose with earth, olive and mushroom accenting bright red fruit; deep and somewhat closed on the palate with flavors that echo the nose and come across as full but without great weight, balanced and clean; long, grippy finish. At 14%, showing none of its alcohol. Delicious with sausage with fennel and onions, butternut squash with fried sage and assorted sautéed mushrooms. Price unknown.
1998 Cantina del Pino, Barbaresco:
This has “younged up” from my last bottle and shows as would a young, well-made Barbaresco from a fine producer; its rich yet grippy, pure but nuanced and still, its only a child; long, slightly drying finish. Fabulous wine before its time. Hold. About $35 on release; I’d pay that again.