Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2003 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco

I've been seeking out more Italian wines since attending the Golden Glass event in San Francisco last summer, where I was blown away by the high end offerings being poured. Dining out at Healdsburg, at the Madrona Manor, more recently, I spotted the 2003 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco on the list for $38, and I decided to bite.

The Nebbiolo grape makes some of Italy's most famous wines, including Barolo and Barbaresco (these are wine zones in Northern Italy's Piedmont region, not grape names). While good examples of these wines can run hundreds of dollars per bottle, wine labeled Nebbiolo tends to be cheaper.

Nebbiolo can make powerful wines, big, bold and tannic. With five years in the bottle, I thought this particular wine might be good to go, however it never seemed to open up for me (we had to leave dinner before the extent of the chef's tasting menu was complete, so I took about half the bottle home with me and finished it during the next two days). On the nose I got cassis, and in the glass I found some nice fruit, dominated by blueberries, but brawny tannins took over and never let the berries leave a lasting impression. Could use some aging. (the most recent issue of Wine Spectator has a retrospective on Barolos and Barbarescos from the 1998 vintage, and said they're just starting to come around).

The "Langhe" in the wine's name refers to a broader region that came into existence in 1994. Wines from this region have less restrictive rules that apply to wines labeled Barolo and Barbaresco, and can be blended with non-native grapes (think Cabernet Sauvignon).

Parker gave Vietti high marks in his 7th edition buyer's guide, rating both the 2004 and 2005 Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco wines 90 points.

Nothing came up on a google shop search, so I'm not sure how much this bottle retails for, but likely half of the $38 I spent. I've tasted better wines in the $20, but I'd be curious to try this again in a few years to see how it develops.

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