I caught this one at the height of its perfection.
Not being a frequent consumer of Italian wine, I have to admit I need to study just a little (ok, maybe a lot) before I go to buy anything.
Can you keep your Barolos and Barbarescos straight? Your Dolcettos and Doglianis? Soaves and Piaves? Your DOCs and DOCGs? What about your Albas and your Astis, your Amarones, Ripassos and Reciotos? Valdobbiadene, Valle D’Aosta, or Valtellina?
I think you get my point.
With that in mind, think of this post as ‘Barbaresco 101’.
Often referred to as a ‘Baby Barolo’, Barbaresco has (sometimes unfairly) been called Barolo’s junior. There is nothing ‘lesser’ about this wine though – it’s simply a different version of a Nebbiolo-based wine.
The Nebbiolo grape (grown here with yields of 57 hl/ha) was usually fermented sweet until the 1890s when dry wines became de rigeur. Most production centres in Alba in Piemonte, the northwest corner of Italy. There is a small area of land planted in Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive and Alba. The Pietro Rinaldi is located at Madonna di Como in Alba’s Langhe Hills.
These areas have Tortonian soil – a calcareous marl that produces soft and fruity Barbaresco wines (like the Barolos grown in Alba and La Morra which are also grown on Tortonian soil). Helvetian soil produces more austere and structured wines (for example in Serralunga D’Alba and Monforte D’Alba).
The Tortonian soil and the fact that it’s close to the River Tanaro also enables the Nebbiolo to ripen faster here; they’re usually ready at 5-10 years. Nebbiolo is a fussy grape and requires a warm site and a long time to ripen. Barbaresco wines must be aged 2 years in oak (1 year less than Barolo) and it has a required minimum of 12.5% abv.
The Azienda Agricola (Domaine) Pietro Rinaldi is clear and bright, a deep garnet with legs. The nose is clean and developed with medium plus aromas of dried strawberry, plum, tar, kid glove and a little rose petal. Classic.
The palate is dry with medium plus acidity, perfectly ripened and finely grained tannins, medium body, medium plus alcohol and medium plus intensity. The flavours consist of deep and dried red fruit (plum, strawberry, cherry) with leather, clove and black Dutch licorice. The finish is a strong medium plus.
This wine is WSET Very Good – it’s a great example of drink now, not intended for further ageing; it has reached its pinnacle. The tannins have resolved perfectly and have obviously been assisted over the past 7 years with the fruit and acidity which is still strong at medium plus. It’s a beautifully balanced effort with complex and concentrated flavours and aromas – the structure is strong.