Last August the local 'special orders' gang at Courrier Vinicole had a special Italian order. Included in this offering were the usual suspects - Barolos and Barbarescos - but they also had an excellent selection of Barberas and Dolcettos. I find that Barbera and Dolcetto offerings are rather limited, so I took advantage of the offer and ordered 24 bottles of wine.
Unfortunately, my cellar is 'bursting at the seams', with more than 500 bottles residing in a cellar designed for 360 bottles. Needless to say, one must step carefully when entering...
With such a large influx of Barbera, and a limited storage capacity, the evening called for Piedmont, regardless of what was on the menu. To take on this evening's Pork Roast with Mushroom gravy, I had two renowned Piemontese Barberas from the same vintage:
2001 Vietti Barbera d'Asti "La Crena"
2001 Giovanni Corino Barbera d'Alba "Pozzo"
These wines were decanted, and tasted and scored head to head, blinded.
I tasted the Vietti La Crena first. The nose began with very strong oaky, cedary and earthy aromas. With some oxygen the wine turned very nutty - hazelnuts and almonds - backed by prunes and flinty, smokey aromas. Very dry, this medium-bodied wine packed a powerful tannic punch, with a surprising amount of fruit given the limited scents of fruit on the nose. La Crena had a soft mouthfeel, but it was angular and 'rustic'. Passionate and fun, but unrefined, this wine may need some more time to develop.
The Corino Pozzo smelled fruitier, with a more judicious use of oak. Very strong coffee and berry aromas, with caramel, cloves, plus some meaty and earthy scents. Medium- to full-bodied with big strawberry fruit and very nice balance with the acidity and tannins. Smoother than the La Crena, yet interesting and powerful at the same time. This wine should improve.
While my notes highlight the differences, the wines were more similar than they were different, converging over the evening - the fruit in the La Crena showed up a little later, while the Pozzo later showed more oak than at the beginning. Very good wines, given the price differential you have to give the nod to the Corino Pozzo.
Look for a future post, "A Dose of Dolcetto", as I conduct the same experiment to whittle down the rest of my Piemontese surplus. Cheers!