April 2008 Wine Selection — under $25
Capezzana, Barco Reale di Carmignano 2004 (about $16)
Mention the words “Tuscany” and “wine” in the same sentence and Chianti, Tuscany’s famous red wine growing zone, is likely to come to mind. Often overlooked are some other less-well recognized areas producing quality wines in Tuscany. One such area is the Carmignano zone, a relatively small area west of Florence. Relatively unknown to most U.S. wine drinkers, wine jars and tasting cups found in Etruscan tombs indicate vines have been cultivated here since pre-Roman times.
Lying next to it’s world-famous and much larger Chianti neighbor, wines from Carmignano have not received the attention they deserve. Which is a shame because they produce some interesting, well-made wines that are relative bargains compared to the more well-known Chianti wines.
The 2004 Barco Reale di Carmignano, my Italian wine pick of the month for April under $25, is just such a wine. Produced by the Capezzana winery, one of the premier producers in the Carmignano zone, the Barco Reale takes its name from an old estate that was used as a hunting reserve by the Medici family. The Contini Bonacossi family purchased the Capezzana estate in the early 1900’s and began producing estate wines shortly thereafter.
A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet and 10% Canaiolo, it has an earthy footprint with notes of black cherries, leather and herbs and enough muscle to give this wine a high “pow” factor. But it is also well balanced with vibrant acidity and tannins, plush mouth-feel and long-lasting finish. The ’04 is drinkable now but will drink well for at least another 7-8 years. This medium-bodied wine goes well with meat-sauced pasta dishes, most first courses as well as veal and pork dishes. The Barco Reale is a cosmic match with roasted pork tenderloin and rosemary.
Paitin, Barbaresco Sori Paitin 1998 (about $42)
The Paitin winery is not easy to find. Located not far from Nieve in the heart of the Barbaresco zone, the Azienda Agricola Paitin is situated on a ridge and accessible only after a long ride along the winding Via Serra Boella with a panoramic view of the countryside below. The estate’s premier Nebbiolo vineyards are beautifully situated with a southwestern exposure and sweep down the gently-sloping hillside toward Nieve.
The ’98 Sori Paitin is a wonderful expression of Barbaresco. It has a dark ruby color with a kitchen pantry full of herbal aromatics and notes of dried cedar, coffee and rich, concentrated dark cherry and plum fruit. A bright, juicy mouth feel and a long and flavorful finish. Isn’t this what Barbaresco is all about?
As in most of the Piedmont, 1998 was a outstanding year for Barbaresco, as are all of the vintages from the late 1990’s. However, a beneficent Mother Nature has only been part of the story for the wines from Paitin. Over the past two decades the brothers Giovanni and Silvano have worked diligently to raise the quality profile of the Paitin winery and their wines from 1998 and subsequent vintages are examples of their considerble achievements.
The 1998 Barbaresco Sori Paitin is ready to drink now but will age well for another decade. A luscious Barbaresco from a great vintage for less than $50 - what’s not to love?
April 3, 2008
For reviews of other monthly wine selections, see Italian Wine Reviews.