Oldies but Goodies: The Pleasures of aged Wines
My wife Julie and I enjoy a glass of wine - or two - with every dinner meal and most of these wines are pleasant, easy-drinking Italian reds. Most of the wines are 2 to 3 years old at time of purchase and typically don’t get much older than the time it takes to get them from the trunk of my car.
But every once in a while I manage to store some age-worthy reds in my basement wine cellar for future enjoyment. The additional ageing permits the wine’s aromas and flavors to further evolve and become fruitier, more complex and intriguing and, hence, more enjoyable than in their youth. And when paired with the right foods, older wines can greatly enhance the pleasure of the dining experience.
Here are three Italian wines that have stood the test of time.
Poderi Colla, Barolo Bussia “Dardi Le Rose” 1998
I pulled this Barolo out of the wine cellar Christmas Eve with the intent of serving it later that evening with a dinner consisting of herb-encrusted crown roast of pork with a savory herb-mushroom stuffing and a side dish of mashed sweet potatoes. It is a great wine-food pairing. Barolo wines generally go well with red meats, stews and flavorful sauces but older vintages such as this ’98 with its refined flavors and silky texture should be shown a little respect and not overwhelmed by rich meats and flavorful sauces. The bottle was opened and decanted about 2 hours prior to serving.
While not especially well known to wine enthusiasts in the U.S., the Colla family is a distinguished producer in the Barolo sub-region of Monforte d’Alba. The estate owns the Dardi le Rose vineyard in the Bussia cru, one of the most respected crus in the Barolo region and the source of the grapes for this wine. Adding to the anticipation of this wine is the fact that 1998 was a superb vintage in the Barolo appellation.
And the wine doesn’t disappoint. The ’98 Dardi Le Rose is a truly expressive wine that holds nothing back. It is intensely aromatic with intoxicating sweet black fruit, herb and coffee aromas and has a mouth-filling texture marked with ripe plum and black currant flavors. It is robust, rich and structured with good tannic grip that suggests it can easily take another decade of ageing in stride. And to top it off it has a long, soft finish enhanced with dark cherry and sweet spice notes.
The bad news of course is that this wine is no longer available in the retail market. I bought this wine back in 2002 for $35 and wish I had bought more then - a typical case of wine buyer's remorse. However, some more recent vintages of the Dardi Le Rose are available such as the 2000, which retails for $60, or the excellent 2010 with a price tag of about $84.
Vietti “Tre Vigne” Dolcetto d’Alba 2007
I reached deep into my wine racks a few weeks ago and pulled out a 2007 Dolcetto d’Alba from the Vietti winery. 2007 may not seem especially “old” for a wine but Dolcettos are not known for their ageing potential and usually are best when served within 3 to 5 years of vintage. However, depending on the specific vintage, producer and/or ageing regimen, some Dolcetto wines can age gracefully for 10 years of more. So, there are no hard and fast rules and it all depends. But even under the best of circumstances, almost 10 years - as in this case - is pushing the envelope.
So it was with some trepidation that I uncorked the bottle. The wine was a deep purple color with a darker hue at the edge and revealed lively wild berry and blueberry aromas. A sip divulged some spicy, mouth-filling dark fruit flavors as well as Dolcetto’s signature touch of bitter almond on the finish.
Dolcetto wines are low in acidity to begin with so I was pleasantly surprised by the still lively acidity that kept this relatively “old” wine fresh. The wine is medium-bodied and velvety with dark fruit flavors, moderate acidity and soft tannins. What’s not to like? The wine was not only alive and well but may well be even better now than in its youth.
Tre Vigne translates as "three vineyards" and indicates that the Dolcetto grapes were harvested from three separate vineyards of the Vietti estate in the Alba area.
This wine was wonderful served with a simple dish of shrimp and pasta with a little pepper and olive oil topped with some shaved Parmigiano.
Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco 1997
It was with great anticipation that I opened a 1997 Barbaresco from the Produttori del Barbaresco the other day. The Produttori is a cooperative winemaking entity located in the town of Barbaresco in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Many of Barbaresco’s most talented growers with some of the best vineyard sites are members of the cooperative. They pool their resources and produce some of the area’s best wines.
Their ‘97 Barbaresco is an example. It is outstanding, a classic aged Barbaresco from a great vintage. Good acidity and ripe tannins provide ample support for seductive red cherry and sweet spice flavors. It is intense yet elegant and refined and a perfect match for our dinner of pork tenderloin with rosemary. It’s another oldie but goody well worth the wait.
For other articles on food and wine see Food and italian Wine
January 2, 2017