Wojciech Bońkowski
Wine & tea writing

Barolo & Barbaresco 2005: difficult

Always challenging to taste, how are 2005 Barolo & Barbaresco drinking after a decade?

Roero: the third twin

Never heard of Roero? My extensive profile of this wine district in Piedmont tells you what’s to be known.

Barolo bliss

Barolo bliss: how I got lost, knocked on a door and there was a 1988 being poured.

Nebbiolo Prima 2012

Kicking off Nebbiolo Prima, the new vintage presentation of Barolo & Barbaresco. Make sure you follow my daily updates!

Nebbiolo Prima 2011, day 1: improving Roero

Live blogging from Piedmont, part 3. Tasting through 2008 Roero and 2008 Barbaresco. At this stage, looks like a challenging vintage: high tannins and acids but low fruit.

Amazing Arneis

Live blogging from Piedmont, part 2. Arneis is usually a light commercial wine. In an amazing tasting at Angelo Negro we taste serious Arneis back to 2001.

Nebbiolo Prima 2011: a good start

Live blogging from Piedmont, part 1. Starting the week slowly with some delicious local food and the best wine to match: white Arneis. The best Arneis is currently made by Ghiomo, a small winery in Guarene.

Patience required

Barolo and Barbaresco age well. I checked. Click for details.

Goodbye barrique

My first day at the Nebbiolo vintage presentation here in Alba was dedicated to Roero (the Nebbiolo grape’s northern outpost, with simpler, most rustic wines, and a few standouts such Monchiero Carbone’s brilliant 2006 Printi Riserva, and the lesser-known Ghiomo wines) and Barbaresco. For Barbaresco, it’s the 2007 vintage that’s on the tasting table. I’m really happy with 2007. Most wines are showing some terrific fruit and very good freshness. They’re also tannic, but less dense or structured than in big vintages such as 2004 or 2006. They might not be for the very long haul but the fruit in many is irresistible. 
 Giuseppino Anfossi of Ghiomo: great guy, lovely wines.
My top wines of the day came from some lesser-known estates (well, that’s the charm of blind tasting) such as Cascina Morassino and Punset (Campo Quadro and Basarin). Tasting 60 to 70 very similar wines blind often distorts your perspective more than non-blind tasting would, but Morassino was top of my list two years ago too, so it’s no coincidence. Marchesi di Grésy and their winemaker Marco Dotta also made some terrific wines: not only the Martinenga 2007 but also the Camp Gros 2004 and 2000 were extremely impressive. 
It’s generally been my best Barbaresco tasting ever here in Alba. Not just because the wines were so good (many were) but also because the winemaking approach is very clearly changing for the better. In the past, many Barbarescos were marred by overambitious vinification, overextraction, dry tannins and an enthusiastic embrace of new oak (which is a notorious disaster with most Nebbiolo-based wines). Five years ago the majority of the new bottlings were dark and inky as Chilean Cabernet. This year, the colours are luminous crimsons and rubies with the typical Nebbiolo wide rims often falling into orange. I’ve taken the below photo from a random sample this morning, and it really shows how the return to tradition is gathering momentum. Gone are the years of creamy vanilla new oak Nebbiolo. These wines are becoming the ridiculous anomaly rather than the norm, as the grape’s natural freshness and bright fruitiness is allowed to speak freely. That’s good! 
My stay in Italy including flights, accomodation and wine tasting programme is paid for by Albeisa, the Piedmontese producers’ association. All the wines mentioned in this post were provided by the producers.