Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bergadano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2008

I love Nebbiolo. Some of the best wines I have ever had were Nebbiolos from the Piedmont area of northern Italy--not just the well known Barolo and Barbaresco but lesser known Nebbiolo-based wines from the Novara hills such as Gattinara, Spanna, Caramino, Fara and Ghemme. Prices for Barolos and Barbarescos have escalated beyond my budget but how about the Nebbiolo wines for every day enjoyment that were so plentiful a few decades ago? I remember a 1982 Dessilani Spanna purchased for $4.99 a magnum that continued to give immense pleasure until at least the late 1990s. Today, Spanna, Gattinara and even generic Nebbiolo from Langhe and Alba usually cost $20 or more--not my version of every day. When I saw this 2008 Langhe Nebbiolo for $10 at Binny's in Chicago a few months ago, I jumped at the chance to try it. And now I wish I had bought more; this is good old-fashioned Nebbiolo at its best.

The color is deep and dark, and the classic Nebbiolo aromas burst from the glass--cherries, cherries and more cherries and now some dark licorice and the fragrance of freshly cut roses. There is really nothing quite like the smell of Nebbiolo! All those qualities carry over to the palate. Big, big wine. Acid and tannin fighting for control. This wine is so dry it almost makes you thirsty. There is plenty of fruit but the fierce tannins are keeping it tightly surrounded. This wine is, after all, only three years old. It needs time and air to show its best. But that doesn't mean there is not enough to enjoy now. The nose, in fact, is worth the price of admission. There were other Nebbiolos on the shelf beside this Bergadano, some costing three times as much. When I asked the clerk, he shrugged his shoulders as if nothing significant would be selling for only $10. If you see that clerk, don't tell him how good this wine is. Just sneak what you want away and leave some behind for me.

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