Saturday, November 05, 2005

Piedmont Traditionalist: The Tongue Sings This is very unlike me. I have just this minute returned from a tasting of Cavallotto downtown at Chambers Street Wines. And here I am sharing with you, somewhat out of breath (if not exactly "breathlessly"), my impressions of the wines poured by Alfio Cavallotto, scion of the old Piedmontese wine-making family. (For the record, the affable young Alfio is the agronomist of the family's vineyards.) It was sort of a mini-vertical tasting: four of the six wines were Barolos, and three of them of the Bricco Boschis line. I tasted some of them several times. I'm sure I seemed a bit crazed to Alfio, not to mention a nuisance, but here's hoping this wee article will help Cavallotto a little. The tasting sheet says, "Cavallotto makes traditional Dolcetto, Freisa, and Barolo, with long fermentations and aging in large Slovenian oak, resulting in pure, structured and delicious wines." I would add that the wines are delightfully free of intrusive oak, which is one of the reasons I am completely off California wines. (It may be unfair, but there it is.) This allows the unalloyed quality of the fruit to come forth--which is not to say that the wines of Cavallotto are "fruit bombs," thank God. They were vinous, balanced wines above all. But more of that later. Here is a brief summary of all six wines, as they hit my palate, listed in ascending order of price and complexity. By the way, I liked all of them--some more than others of course. My ruminations follow. Dolcetto d'Alba, Vigna Scot, 2004 ($13.99 at Chambers Street Wines) light, easy to drink, a rather soft everyday wine (if you can get it on sale)...I bought a bottle of this to have with a nice sauteed chicken dish or as an aperitif Freisa Langhe, Bricco Boschis, 2003 ($15.99) good example of the wonderful, very drinkable Freisa grape, vaguely reminiscent of pinot noir--one of the lighter ones from California or New Zealand--with a slightly bitter tannic finish that bodes well for future development...less finesse than a Mascarolo Freisa, but equally apt for lighter dishes like chicken or gently sauteed tuna steaks Barolo, Bricco Boschis, 2000 ($44.99) as Alfio said, this is a soft and immediately drinkable Barolo, largely due to lighter tannins, delicious but, alas, too expensive for me to drink very often (it would be the best "house wine" you ever had, as good before dinner as with) Barolo, Bricco Boschis, 2001 ($47.99) strong, robust, excellent vin de garde with sharp tannins that will doubtless smooth out with age...and ageability is something that this wine has Barolo, Bricco Boschis, 1999 ($49.99) I have had this wine before, tasting it with a Conterno and a Giacosa, and this to my mind is the most beautiful and unassuming of them all...a bit of a pleasantly sweet finish, and a very long one, with wonderful walnutty tannins...despite my relative poverty as a humble schoolteacher, I had to buy a bottle of this for a special dinner for two...vinous and strong, yet a perfect accompaniment to virtually any meal that doesn't involve frutti di mare...yes, the tongue sang Barolo, Riserva Vignolo, 1999 ($61.99) wow...this wine is worth every penny and is as complex, long and elegant as wines that I've tasted (Giacosa, perhaps? Conterno?) that cost far more...tannins already are balanced, and I hesitate to liken this wine to this fruit or that fungus...yet if this isn't an inspiring example of the Piedmontese gout du terroir, nothing but not sweet or "opulent," this wine should be served on wonderful occasions with the best beef you can find What Have We Learned Here? Cavallotto wines strike me as honest, clean and restrained. Their power doesn't bomb you; it delights you in a way that you can't easily tire of. It's plain from the first sip that they are made to accompany food, and that they are for drinking and not simply tasting. Their balance and elegant vinosity are exemplary. Why can't more winemakers, including those from the Cavallottos' neck of the vine, discipline themselves to this infinitely pleasing end?


Blogger tirebouchon said...

Che bello sentire parlare di baroli, e che baroli, a New York. Spero che tu possa vedere presto con i tuoi occhi il Piemonte che ha dato vita a questo nobile vino che non sfigura accanto ai blasonati francesi di bordeaux e Borgogna (che pure tanto amo), una terra bella fatta di colline e vigne, sospese fra la nebbia dell'inverno e il sole dell'estate.
Ho dato una occhiata alla sezione nuovi arrivi di Astorwine e ho notato due vini che ti consiglio: uno è un nebbiolo coltivato nella parte nord del Piemonte, ai confini con la Valle d'Aosta, un Carema 1993 dei Produttori di Carema (che è un piccolo paese), un vino piuttosto raro anche in Italia; l'altro è un vino rosso: il Kante Rosso 2000 prodotto da Edi Kante, grandissimo produttore di bianchi, nel Carso zona impervia e piena di pietraie nel Friuli al confine con la Slovenia.
Complimenti per il tuo interessantissimo blog! Cin cin!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Terence Hughes said...

Grazie per i complimenti, ruvitt! I Cavallotto mi hanno invitato a visitare ma quando potro' andare in Italia? Non lo so. Forse Natale del 2006...speriamo.

Grazie d'avermi segnalato i vini ad Astor. Li controllero' fra poco.

Ciao, amico, e buon weekend.

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