Okay, lets get to the wines. The first wine was poured blind into our glasses. This was without question a modern styled wine with an oaky palate and somewhat tannic back end. I did not try to guess the grape or origin of the wine. After 10 minutes in the glass the tannins softened and the wine improved quite a bit. While the wine was not bad, It was definitely not my style and I would not buy it. Thus I rated it a 6. The group was in agreement and the wine received a total score of 34.5 points out of a possible 60. The wine was 2005 Lamborghini (La Fiorita) Campoleone Umbria IGT. This is a decidedly modern style Super Tuscan blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. It is also the estate's top wine. The estate uses famed Italian winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, known for his love of modern style wines, to make their wines. Malolactic fermentation takes place completely in new French barrique, and then is allowed to rest another twelve months in the same barrique, keeping the two grape varieties completely separate prior to blending. If you like modern wines this is a wine for you. Oh, in case you are wondering, yes this is the same Lamborghini of the Lamborghini car family. In fact I have heard that if you purchase a new Lamborghini, they will include a case of this wine.
The second wine, which appeared to me to be a Burgundy, possessed a lovely earthy bouquet with a pure and elegant palate that I find to be characteristic of Pinot Noirs from Burgundy. The wine was full bodied and finished with considerable length. It was in fact a 1993 Daniel Bocquenet Nuit St. Georges Aux St. Julien, a basic village red from Burgundy. At 20 years of age it once again demonstrated that estate level, inexpensive wines can age very nicely. This wine, the 1993 vintage, can probably only be found at auction which is where Jeff got it. An experienced auction buyer he was able to “steal” this wine for under $30, when in fact it usually goes for twice that much at auction. Not only did I like the wine, but I would buy it if I could find it, so I scored it 9 points. The group score totaled 46 points out of 60.
Our third wine for the evening was very, very good and was definitely made by an artisan. While the wine reminded me of Nebbiolo it also had hints of a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. It possessed a gorgeous transparent red hue, and was fresh, with lively and harmonious fruit on the palate. It also had a soft elegant finish. It was definitely a wine with soul. The wine was 2009 Ar. Pe. Pe Rosso Di Valtellina. It was in fact 100% Nebbiolo, but not from Piedmont, rather from the Valtellina region of Lombardy, Italy near the Swiss border. I scored it a 9, as I would definitely purchase it (in fact I plan on it). It was the perfect compliment to the Manicotti. Our group was in agreement and scored it 45 points out of 60.
The fourth wine was in our collective opinion a return to modern style winemaking. Unfortunately this bottle was closed and never really opened up, suggesting that the bottle itself was off, which impacted the scoring and true experience of the wine. There was no bouquet to speak of and and was rather flat and nondescript on the palate. The wine was 2006 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva, which is one of the better known and respected Chiantis of Tuscany. It is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes and spent 16 months in French oak, 40% of which was new, before being aged in the bottle for 3 to 6 months. It is a wine I would not purchase, thus I scored it a 6. The group scored it 36 out of 60 points.
Wine number five was unmistakably a Nebbiolo from Piedmont as it had that Piedmontese earthy bouquet and soft, elegant palate. It was young, possessed gorgeous young fruit and was extremely well balanced. A wine with great pedigree. It evolved in the glass and finished with good length. It was in fact a 2009 Guido Porro Langhe Nebbiolo from Piedmont. Importer Kermit Lynch says of Guido Porro, “Reviews and notes on Guido Porro regularly refer to him as “under the radar”: the wines he makes are worthy of a stellar reputation, but he is too easygoing and unassuming to worry about whether the general wine-drinking public recognizes his name. He rarely bothers to send samples to wine writers”. Here is an entry-level wine that can hold it’s own with may Barolos and Barbarescos that sell for two to three times the price. A wine I would buy, I scored it a 9. The group scored it 44 out of 60 points.
The sixth and final wine of the evening was also unmistakably a Nebbiolo from Piedmont. Like the Guido Porro before it, this had great pedigree also. On the nose the earthy bouquet was intoxicating, while on the palate the fruit was pure, focused and elegant. A round and delicious wine. When it was revealed to be 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco I was not surprised. The Produttori del Barbaresco, a cooperative of 56 Barbaresco owners of Nebbiolo vineyards was put together in 1894 by Domizio Cavazza, headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba and a Barbaresco resident. Each family is in full control of its land, growing Nebbiolo grapes with centuries old skill and dedication. These wines are traditionally made and outstanding examples of old world wine making and represent one of the greatest wine values in the world today for both their entry level wine, as this one was, and their riservas. Again a wine that I would buy (I have many bottles in my cellar) so I scored it 9 points. The group scored it 48 points out of 60, making it the highest scoring wine of the evening.
With the exception of the 1993 Daniel Bocquenet Nuit St. Georges Aux St. Julien, these wines can be found on Wine-Searcher.com at or near $30 a bottle. For those number guys out there here is the scoring of the six wines.
2008 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco - 48 points
1993 Daniel Bocquenet Nuit St. Georges Aux St. Julien – 46 points
2009 Ar. Pe. Pe Rosso Di Valtellina – 45 Points
2009 Guido Porro Langhe Nebbiolo – 44 points
2006 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva – 36 points
2005 Lamborghini Campoleone Umbria IGT - 34.5 points
The scores really are secondary as we had lively and insightful discussions about all of the wines. Our group definitely leans towards old-world, traditionally made wines, thus it was really no surprise that those wines outscored the more modern styled wines. In reality we all won. Great food, wine and friendship. It is what life, my friends, is all about!