A fantastic tasting at Boffi's super sleek showrooms yesterday. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever tasted in such elegant surroundings...
The wines were a wonderful cross section of Piemontese terroir. Fontanafredda led the tasting with (tra l'altro) a vertical of their fabulous Barolo Vigna La Rosa. This went all the way back to 1982 - which was as feted a vintage in Northern Italy as it has most famously been for Bordeaux. Nebbiolo here showed its inherent ageing potential, thanks to a supple tannic backbone which supports the wine throughout its life.
Over at E.Pira, Chiara Boschis was showing Dolcetto, Barbera and pairs of her two celebrated Barolo wines, the Via Nuova and Cannubi. Of these two I have always found the Cannubi to be the more sensual, where the other shows more rigidity of structure. But these things are relative!
Conterno Fantino's 2006 Sori Ginestra will be a brilliant wine... in about 10 years' time! This is a monster ( I remember Guido Fantino making a particularly graphic arm gesture to describe its power when I tasted it last year). But I have had the pleasure of tasting older vintages and know that even these wines reach silky, dreamy plateaux if you keep them long enough. Parusso's Barolo Bussia was winning many fans, with its chocolatey, velvety richness.
Meanwhile Matteo Ascheri was showing a vertical of Viognier! He is never a man to be hamstrung by tradition, and although he happily produces great classical Barolo from his plots in the DOCG, he has also been quietly innovating elsewhere in Piemonte. In his words, he wanted to prove that the region and terroir were capable of making great wines from grapes not found indigenously. So, you take a famous terroir, a known winemaker, and add a new element - Viognier (and indeed Syrah which he also grows successfully) . He calls the idea 'unplugged wine' - familiar elements given a fresh twist. The Viognier Podere di Montelupa is a fabulous drop. 2006 was unctuous, moutfilling but balanced, 2001 nutty, concentrated and devilishly complex. If the '99 was a little dull by comparison, Matteo explained that this early vintage demonstrates that experimenting with untested grape varieties is necessarily a work in progress - you can only change things once per vintage!