When asked to help pick some inexpensive but ageworthy wines to lay away for my grandson born in 2011, I felt overwhelmed. Sure, I have many wines in the cellar that have aged quite well over two, three, and even four decades. But I never put any of them away with confidence that they would age that well. And I have bought other wines that I thought would be solid agers that died prematurely on me.
I know wine critics and others who try to estimate when a wine will be drinking at its best. I don't trust any of them. What I do trust is track record. And, on the basis of that, I recommended this Vallana Spanna as one of the wines I feel confident will be there and offer pleasure for my grandson in 2032 or later. Number one, the wine is made from Nebbiolo, arguably the most ageworthy of all wine grapes. And 2011 has been rated as a very good vintage for Nebbiolo from the Piedmont area of Italy. Secondly, it comes from highly underrated vineyards in the Novara hills northeast of Barolo, and I have had other wines from this region that aged marvelously, including the 1975 Dessilani Gattinara and the 1982 Dessilani Spanna. Finally, this wine, in particular, has a great track record with bottles from the 1950s still getting good reviews. Just to be sure, though, I wanted to try the 2011 Vallana right now.
Very deep ruby but nothing that would indicate barriques or new oak treatment. Has the hallmarks smells and flavors of traditionally made Nebbiolo: dark cherries, rose petals and black licorice. Bold, full bodied and fruity. Fruity enough that it would be easy to miss the strong tannins, but they are there. Even more important, there is plenty of acid to keep it going for years and years. But I don't want to tell you that I could taste this wine blind and predict that it will last three or four decades. It's a beautifully fruity wine that goes very well with spicy Mexican food. Everyone loves it. With some close attention, it's also possible to note the great concentration and the way the wine clings to the back of your palate and stays there for minute after minute. I love it.
I hope that I'm around to enjoy this wine with my grandson in 2032, but I doubt that very much. In the meantime, I could drink this wine again and again right now. And it's only $14.99 at Binny's in Chicago.