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Arneis BarSix bottles under wraps, amidst charcuterie and cheese plates on a busy table carrying a pitcher of water, spit cups and stemware, the only certainty being that all wines hailed from Piedmont—another chapter from the chronicles of my tasting group.

Right out of the gate we had two white wines split between two heavyweight producers—Favaro’s Erbaluce di Caluso and Vietti’s Roero Arneis. It was that latter that brought the group to their knees.

A golden glimmer in the bulb with a faint petillance (tiny bubbles accruing at the bottom of the glass), the developing nose was dripping of complexity, showing lemon, celery root, candle wax and almonds. The transition to the palate was spectacular, not letting up from those deep aromatics, the Arneis with waxy texture, fanned out across the taste buds, bursting with apricots, lemon oil, toasted almonds and fennel seeds that finished long (medium-plus to pronounced).

After segueing to the red wines we were treated to some bottles that shattered our price ceiling, and in particular the fourth wine of the night (and not the most expensive) blew the others away gracefully. After the reveal we saw a seven-fifty of 2007 Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Pora, still retaining a lot of youthful character with red cherries and rose petals on top, but as I dug deeper, licorice, leather and Cremini mushrooms were beginning to emanate. A robust mouth feel, with fine-grained tannins (high), high acidity, medium-plus body and alcohol—the winning attributes of a wine that will age effortlessly in the cellar.

After dinner we finished the night with a sweet splash of La Spinetta Bricco Quaglia Moscato d’Asti, reflecting on the varied tasting; half the wines shown were native varietals, sharing the stage with their well-known counterparts from Barolo and Alba. By the end of it my gums were still feeling the tannic grip of Freisa and Nebbiolo but I was ecstatic with the results that almost all the wines in our lineup were very good examples. Until next time.

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