Barolo wines are derived from the Nebbiolo grape and produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. This is truly one of the world's best red wines and is an example of a wine that gets better and better with age.
Barolo is not cheap and definitely not everyone's entry-level, everyday drinking wine (At least not for me). Besides the high quality nose and palate, one main reason for its high price tag is that the Barolo is a wine that is difficult to make.
The Nebbiolo grape ripens slowly and is harvested late in the season. Traditionally, the fermentation process takes place for many weeks before the wine is aged in large Slavonian oak casks for a prescribed number of years. Even when the wine is finally released in bottles, it’s still not ready to drink. It can take many more years of cellaring for it to mature enough for the tannins to soften and the acidity to mellow.
However, modern Barolo makers have succeeded in reducing drastically the fermentation time from weeks to days by controlling the temperature of the grape juice using modern steel rotary fermenters. By using smaller oak barrels that result in higher surface area-to-volume ratio, the aging time is further reduced and you get to drink the wine sooner than later but not necessarily cheaper.
Last night, we had the chance to attend an outstanding Barolo wine dinner organized by the Singapore Straits Wine Company at the classy modern Italian restaurant, OTTO Ristorante.
Vietti winemaker Francesco Cordero was the guest speaker for the evening. He shared with us how his grandfather, Alfredo Currado, broke the norm in the 1960s and became one of the first to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards to produce Barolo wines as opposed to the traditional way of combining grapes from many vineyards with different qualities. Most importantly to me, this producer of Barolo still uses the traditional method of slow fermentation and aging in large casks.
Although not very fluent with the English language, Francesco was very eager to introduce the fine Vietti wines to us. He was at our table for quite a while before the dinner commenced, answering our questions, showing us maps and pictures from his iPad and sharing his childhood stories at the vineyard. We thoroughly enjoyed talking to him.
We tasted a total of 8 outstanding wines and I love almost all of the Vietti wines. All of us have different opinions and favorites but for me, if I have to pick one for special mentioning, it has to be the Barolo Rocche. This is a single-vineyard Barolo DOCG. The grapes are selected from the 46 year old vineyards in Rocche of Castiglione. The Rocche shows much intensity mixed with balance. The tannins, although strong, are balanced and smooth leaving a long and elegant finish which lingers pleasingly on your palate.
If you do not want to spend so much (S$320 regular and S$240 discounted price) on a bottle of wine, I would recommend the Barbaresco Masseria (although not exactly cheap too at S$209 regular and S$150 discounted price). Also made of 100% Nebbiolo grape, this Barbaresco is also a wine of high quality with outstanding balance, integration and a long, lingering finish.
For hundreds of years, Barolo is often referred to as the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings. Last night, I truly comprehend that saying through the Barolo of Vietti.
** Apologies for the quality of the photos taken with mobile phone camera.
|With Vietti winemaker Francesco Cordero|
|Francesco Cordero sharing with us his winemaking experiences|
|The range of Vietti wines|
|Hokkaido Scallop and avocado tartare with clear tomato jelly|
Wine pairing - Roero Arneis 2011
|Homemade cocoa tagliatelle with duck ragout, raisins and pine nut|
Wine pairing - Barbera d'Alba Scarrone 2010
|Homemade Dutch veal agnolotti with ossobuco sauce|
Wine pairing - Barbaresco Masseria 2007
|Rosemary scented rack of lamb with milk baked potatoes|
Wine pairing - Barolo Castiglione 2009, Barolo Brunate 2009
|US Prime beef tagliate with "Bagnet Vert" Italian parsley sauce|
Wine pairing - Barolo Lazzarito 2009, Barolo Rocche 2009
|Lemon and Italian meringue tart with assorted berries|
Wine pairing - Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta 2012