Big, bold, complex, and expensive! The first three are why I love the wines of Peidmont, the latter reminds me why I drink them so rarely. Piedmont is a region in northwest Italy, home of superstar wines barolo and barbaresco, made from the nebbiolo grape. Other Piedmont reds are made from barbera and dolcetto. These are often labeled according to the town where the grapes were grown, such as dolcetto d’Alba or barbera d’Asti. All are true food wines for red meat, game, or really stinky cheese. If you love Napa cabernet, Bordeaux, or brunello (from Tuscany), you just may find a new love in the reds of Peidmont.
This month’s selections are available at Buon Giorno Italia, 981 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale, 651-905-1080
Elio Perrone Barbera d’Asti Tasmorcan 2005 (Asti, Italy), $18.99
Barbera is lusher and earthier than dolcetto, and this one boasts a blackberry nose with a hint of anise that carries over to the palate. It is ready to drink now and would be great with veal or a robust risotto.
Francesco Rinaldi Dolcetto d’Alba Roussot 2005 (Alba, Italy), $21.99
This wine is a beautiful garnet color with a nose of dark cherries and spice—full-bodied, but not overpowering. You just want to keep drinking it. The wine is balanced and has less acid than most in this tasting. It is ready to drink, so try it with Italian sausage pizza.
Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2003 (Langhe, Italy), $24.99
A medium-bodied red for the big red drinker. Cherry and strawberry fruit with a bit of that suave sweet tobacco smell. It has a shorter finish than its barolo counterpart, but is a much more affordable way to drink this wonderful grape. Put it alongside mom’s spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, even if mom’s not a very good cook.
Albino Rocca Barbaresco Vigneto Loreto 2001 (Barnaresco, Italy), $69.99
Barbaresco is located in the hills of southeast Piedmont and its grape is always nebbiolo. This is a huge wine, full and complex, and it changed every time I took a sip. The rich taste and long finish went on and on. Get a rib eye on the grill, but open this wine an hour before you want to drink it. Take a sip first to see how much it changes. Don’t hesitate to cellar it for a while.
Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate le Coste 2001 (Barolo, Italy), $99.99
Wow! Like the other two nebbiolos—but on steroids. There are more flowers on the nose, more spice, more licorice, and more big, dark fruit. It’s deep and elegant, but I drank it about twenty years too soon. This is the top of the heap in the wine world. It is for the serious collector, a special occasion, or the twenty-first birthday of a child born in 2001. This one needs lots of food. A New York strip with gorgonzola may be just the ticket. It received a 93 from Mr. Big (Robert Parker) and it will last and last in your cellar.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes winetastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com.