I am writing this post from Piemonte, where over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to taste several dozen bottlings of the soon to be released 2008 Barbaresco. The wines were tasted blind at the annual Nebbiolo Prima event in the city of Alba, where journalists from around the world can preview the new examples of Nebbiolo for the year: 2008 Roero Rosso, 2008 Barbaresco and 2007 Barolo.
Briefly, the 2008 vintage for Barbaresco was first-rate. The growing season was cooler than 2007, which yielded forward, ripe wines that year. The 2008s had the advantage of long hang time which meant ideal ripening conditions. While 2007 was an excellent vintage for Barbaresco, 2008 was even better, as the wines have deeper concentration along with precise acidity and beautiful structure. Look for many of the best bottlings from 2008 to be at their best in 12-15 years, with a few drinking a few years beyond that.
A few of my highest-rated wines include the Pertinace “Vigneto Nervo” and the Ceretto “Bernadot” from Treiso. The latter producer is world-famous, of course, but what a nice accomplishment for Pertinace, a small cooperative of 15 growers. I have tasted the Nervo Barbaresco from this producer in the past and the 2008 is as fine a bottling as I have tasted to date. With its aromas of candied orange peel, currant and cedar (the wine is aged solely in grandi botti), this is a rich, very elegant wine with the structure to improve and drink well for 12-15 years. The producer’s other cru from Treiso, “Marcarini” also showed quite well, this is a touch lighter than the “Nervo”, but will still drink well for 10-12 years. Both wines will be released in the United States in the fall and they are well worth thier suggested $40 price tag.
Treiso showed the best of the communes, as least as far as the wines I tasted during this event. I also tasted the 2008 “Bricco Asili” Babaresco from Ceretto (this wine is from the commune of Barbaresco), which is always their top-rated Barbaresco. This is a slightly more modern style of Barbaresco than the Pertinace, given its partial aging in small barrels, but the oak is beautifuly integrated in this bottling. This is full-bodied with excellent concentration and complexity and should drink well for 15-20 years.
One other wine I want to note is the splendid Cascina delle Rose “Tre Stelle” from a small vineyard in the commune of Barbaresco. I will write more about this producer in the near future, but for now, you should know about the dedication to tradition practiced by the owners of this small estate (about 5000 bottles of cru Barbaresco per year). Sporting a lovely delicate garnet color, the 2008 “Tre Stelle” offers deep aromas of Queen Anne cherry, orange peel and currant, has excellent concentration and persistence as well as outstanding complexity and balance. The wines at Cascina delle Rose are aged only in grandi botti, so the wood notes are very subtle. This is quite appealing now, but will definitely improve and drink beautifully over the next 10-12 years and possibly longer. This is amomg the very best wines of the year – Barbaresco or otherwise.
One note: again, the wines from Neive displayed too much new oak. I have written about this in previous vintages, so I was hoping that I might taste some more subtle wines from this commune. But it was not to be, as the wines were not well balanced for the most part. Thankfully, there were exceptions, most notably the Francone “I Patriarchi” and the Vigin “Nonnorlando” from the Cotta sottozona, perhaps this is some much needed good news for the bottlings of Barbaresco from Neive.
In closing, I am hoping that the quality of the 2008 Barbarescos will lead to a renewed interest in this iconic red from Piemonte. Barolo always gets the bulk of the attention, but right now, Barbaresco is poised to steal some of that thunder.