Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Breaking the Shiraz Habit

Every few months I get together with a old friend in Toronto, and the first order of business is a visit to the wine store. I tend to select an unusual menu of wines, in an attempt to break his Aussie Shiraz habit. It's not a bad habit, per se, more of a rut. He drinks so many wonderful Shirazes, but he is missing other wonderful grapes and regions. Fortunately, he's ok with my experiment, and I have not been totally unsuccessful - he now likes a good Argentinian Malbec for a change!

Tonight's experiment featured two oddities (Italian wines are not odd, but these choices were not mainstream Italian):

2000 Allegrini "La Grola", C$30
2004 Elio Altare Barbera D'Alba, C$27

I have had the "La Grola" on a few occasions, and I always found it to be a wonderful wine for the price. I scored it a little lower on the nose - while pleasant, there were very few scents and those present were fleeting - blueberries and vanilla were all I caught this evening. However, the taste was excellent - full bodied with very nice fruit and structure, soft tannins with a hearty feel and a nice long finish. This wine should continue to improve, but is easy drinking now. Score: 16/20.

The Barbera was a more unusual selection, as I have not had many in my life and I have never tasted any of Altare's wines (famous for his Barolos). Dark purple with a fantastic wild and gamey nose, this wine was bursting with interesting aromas: Violet, citrus, raspberries, earth/undergrowth, leather, smoke - fabulous! On the palate the wine started out very acidic, powerfully tannic and a little off balance - a disappointment vs. the nose. A funny thing happened over the evening, and as this wine got more air it developed wonderfully - I am not sure my score captures how nicely this wine became with more air time. Definitely needs some more time in the cellar, and should improve. Score: 16/20.

Both wines were an excellent match for Domino's pizza.

To be fair, we decanted the La Grola and drank the Barbera out of the bottle - a little unfair to the young Piemonte upstart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try Elio's Barolos... fantastic... we had the fortunate opportunity to visit his winery in 2000.. his daughter gave us the cellar tour and treated us to some barrel tastings.. wonderful!...