This 1999 Barbaresco was the highlight of my Christmas dinner, although it had tough competition from a 1998 Le Sang de Caillou Vacqueyras and a 2008 Damilano Nebbiolo d'Alba (see above). The Vacqueyras was probably the best match for roast lamb, but I don't believe there is ever a bad time to open and enjoy a Nebbiolo from the Piedmont area of Italy.
The color has tints of orange or amber, but that is common with Nebbiolo, even in middle stages of maturity. At first, the nose is a bit ordinary--some old wood and dark fruit smells, somewhat muted. After a couple of hours, though, it begins to unfold. Light body but loads of flavor. Just let the wine glide down your tongue and the flavors start to dance. Very long faceted finish. Has many of the qualities that I like in a good Pinot Noir--deep, deep fruit that peeks out from behind a wall of ripe tannins and lively acid.
I tre merli was the name of a now defunct Italian restaurant in New York City, and this Barbaresco was apparently offered by the establishment as a wine by the glass. Because the wine is not very well known and 14 years old, auction buyers avoided it and I picked up three bottles for $10 apiece--only a fraction of the former wine-by-the-glass price. I lucked out.