I'd hate to think that the Barbaresco side car gets second billing here, because there really is no comparison. If so, then the cameo steals the picture.

I have been craving high acidity lately in my reds so I have been drinking some Nebbiolos, amongst other things (Jura).  And not just Barolo or Barbaresco mind you.  The 1996 Roagna Barbaresco may be pint sized (.375ml to be exact), but what a Nebbiolo!  Roagna is one of the best traditional producers in the Langhe, and this half bottle of Barbaresco from the excellent 1996 vintage is the real deal.  Traditional techniques are maintained here with the use of the same wood vats of yesteryear for example, yet for such great traditional wines, Roagna is also forward looking in their goal of a zero impact winery.  To quote from their website:  “Our style is traditional and innovative, constantly searching the utmost quality in accordance with our history. Techniques improve every year, yet we maintain our traditional and typical character.”  

La Castellina is apparently a farm located in the heart of Sondrio in the area of ​​the Valtellina Superiore DOCG Sassella, Lombardy.  The wine is produced from the Nebbiolo grape Chiavennasca as it’s known in local tradition.  It’s an interesting expression which kind of left me scratching my head as to weather I liked it or not.  I really could not find out much about the Sassella on line, but it appears to be a part of some kind of foundation known as Fondazione Fojanini.  I can’t say it was the greatest expression of Nebbiolo, it veered towards more earthy barnyard aromas, and while I didn’t love it, I could not dismiss it either.

I guess the bottom line is that Nebbiolo is not only a great grape variety reserved only for hearty winter fare.  I think it pairs just as well with in summer due to its naturally high acidity.  I love that acidic cut with food, and that can be refreshing when the temperature is up there.  So thank god in these hot summer months when we are craving more acidity in our wines we can still turn to Nebbiolo reds when we tire of whites and rosés.  Also from Piemonte, I love the Barbara from Alba and Asti for it’s naturally high acidity.  It makes a great, and somewhat less expensive, option to Nebbiolo, but that’s another story…

La Castellina – Sassella 2005 Valtellina Superiore

Medium garnet, hinting at rust.  The immediate impression is lite funky moldy truffles.  Not profound earthy truffles, but rather a a marine minerality meets a whiff of barnyard.  This does subside a bit and there are hints of lite Porcini mushroom and beef broth elements kicking around.  The acidity is decent and the tannins are lite at best.  I really cannot come to grips with this bottle of wine.  I kind of like it, but am kind of not sure.  Just when I think I am going to give it a pass, it suggests a second chance.  This wine may not be for everyone, but some may like it, so proceed with curious caution.  ON THE FENCE – RECOMMENDED

Roagna 1996 Barbaresco ~ $30.00

And then there was the half bottle (side car) of Roagna Barbaresco.  One of the best traditional producers in Barbaresco and the Langhe, Roagna never seems to disappoint those who value traditional Piedmontese wines.  And this pint sized beauty was no exception.  From go, the rich burgundy hued wine, inflected with a rusty glint, was like waves of dark chocolate, dark cherries, menthol, smoke, and high toned notes lapping at the shores of the palate.  The mouth feel was laced with mouth watering acidity, and this at 15 years of age no less!  The tannins are m0derate, the finish lingering.  This classic Nebbiolo/Barbaresco is still going strong, yet ready now, but will certainly carry on another 15.  The real deal.  Purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED