11 March 2010

Free iuli

Maybe it took the old to make barbera seem new again, because yesterday's tasting (and touring) exploration of barbera del Monferrato, with a few excursions through grignolino and other grapes-that-are-not-barbera, was much more rewarding than that which had preceded. There were a fair number of highlights - something I'm very pleased to be able to say, at long last - and far fewer horror shows. When there were problems, they tended to be more due to flaws than to the wrenching deformations of internationalized winemaking.

I heard proprietors speaking of soil, rather than pruning methods that enhance tannin and color retention. I tasted wines in the full range of styles...stainless steel, old wood, new wood...that, whether or not I personally liked the results, spoke clearly of both grape and site. It was like a revelation, or perhaps the rediscovery of something feared lost.

A few of those highlights? The extraordinary range from iuli, with only a barbera/nebbiolo blend failing to show both quality and character. And most especially the wines of La Casaccia, which I tasted in multiple verticals and over a very enjoyable lunch. I actually look forward to being able to write in more detail about these wines, something I have not felt as often as I'd like over these past few days.

Of course, there was also a heated argument with an Italian journalist about the words "philosophy" and "natural" that was as much about ideology and parochialism as it was the facts on the ground. An argument that I think has some relevancy given the form of the lows I've experienced during this week's tastings. But - and sorry to be writing this yet again, but we're simply not being given any time during the day to write more than précis posts - that explanation will have to wait until later.

Disclosure: all wine, food, lodging, and all transportation paid for by various interested parties. See http://barbera2010.com/ for details on the people and entities involved. My tasting notes have not been influenced in any way, nor has my work on this blog and/or my own site, but the content of any work appearing only on the official Barbera Meeting 2010 blog may (or may not) have been edited for content.

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