An aged Italian beauty
In a recent tasting, I presented a 2011 Gattinara Vigneto Valferana DOCG out of Piedmont which is in NW Italy. The most grown grape here is Nebbiolo and Barolo is probably the most common wine out of this region. Barolos are quite pricey so if you want something a little more fiscally approachable, this “Piedmont Red” is a great option. And especially if you see DOCG on the label - it’s a guarantee quality standard that Italy puts on wines with strict rules on what grapes are grown, how they’re grown and how the wine is made. It’s the strictest of all of the quality standards so you’ll know you're getting high quality.
Now this is a 2011 so there’s 10 years on this bottle. When you pour it into your glass and assess the color, it’s moving from the typical ruby to garnet, particularly around the edges which is typical for a wine of this style and age. As it continues to age it will turn even more brownish-orange into a tawny. It's showing light in color, like a pinot almost. On the nose cherry is very pronounced, raspberries, cranberry, floral and oak. What a surprise on the palate - with the color more on the pale side you’d think it would be light but it certainly has a punch of acidity and tannins.
This is the fascinating thing about wine tasting, especially if you ever do blind tastings, when looking at it, I’d call it a pinot but after assessing the nose and taking a sip, the level of tannins and oak rules that out. You’ll get a lot of oak in any Nebbiolo because it's a very thick skinned grape which means high tannins so when making the wine they age it in oak barrels for an extended amount of time to soften the tannins and add an extra layer of complexity. To put this into perspective most red wines age in barrels 18 months on average, this wine is aged 36 months in small barrels which allows more barrel contact with the juice thus oak. And then they let it age in the bottle a year before releasing.
I sampled this earlier that week and it became more complex and bold as time went on so if you have the time, let it sit a couple of hours and go back to it, it’ll surprise you. I’d say this bottle is at prime time for drinking. It’s so smooth and balanced, really nice wine.
With the high acidity and nice tannins, I’d pair this with meat or a pasta with a meat sauce, a buttery risotto OR want to do something non-traditional, pair it with Asian food. High acidity goes great with salty food.