While in Piedmont recently, the international crew of sommeliers and journalists I was travelling with had a fun encounter, which caught us a bit off-guard.
You see, there are relatively few things that drive folks like us bananas when on wine trips, but the big two are:
We were about to be shown yet another bottling line on one afternoon, and as we all began to roll our eyes and elbow one another, we all suddenly perked up.
IT WAS A BAG-IN-BOX BOTTLING LINE!!!
The majority of us had never seen once in action, and after a quick tour -hilariously - it was tough to pry us away! It was mesmerizing! The photo-ops! The Instagram potential!
And so, for those of you who haven't seen one do its thing before, here you go.
(For the record, we later had the opportunity to try this Vinchio-Vaglia Montecroce Piemonte D.O.C. Cortese outta the box. Perfumed, a touch musky and floral on the nose, the palate is then drenched with guava, lemon curd and young pineapple, with medium acid and juuust a hint sweetness on the finish. If it were available here in Vancouver, it'd probably make occasional appearances in my fridge, particularly during these warm, summer days.)
I'm over in Piedmont, Italy this week for the Collisioni festival, a 'collision' of wine, music, literary arts and more.
Before the festival officially begins, there are a couple dozen of us doing an immersive trip through Monferrato, the region commonly thought to be the birthplace of the Barbera grape variety.
This morning, our first stop was at Pico Maccario, and my first sip of the day was a fresh experience: my first-ever Barbera rosé from the region.
Pico Maccario 2016 Lavignone Rosato has fairly sweet aromatics; I'm talking things like cotton candy, bubble gum and candied watermelon notes. On the palate, the wine had more viscosity than I'd expected, an oily character dominates. Those aromatic notes stay consistent through the first few sips, with a touch of salinity and maybe a little fresh-squeezed blood orange providing a little lift to an otherwise weighty wine.
There's a spot of residual sugar on the finish, which doesn't necessarily make it sweet, but definitely enough to ensure it'll handle any dishes which may carry a bit of spice or heat.
While I'm mentioning heat, I thought I detected a hint of alocholic heat on the finish, and a few colleagues tasting next to me agreed with my take. Oddly enough, the wine's only 12.5%; I wouldn't have thought that level would have significantly affected the profile, but the note was there with each taste.
It was an interesting wine, and I was on the fence as to how much I enjoyed the style; I usually like pink wines which carry a little more freshness. It was a good one to ponder though, and it has piqued my interest in tracking down others in the category.
I've never, NEVER, had a Malbec like this, certainly not from British Columbia. Summerland's Tyler Harlton has turned my world upside-down with this light, buoyant, fresh and minty 2016 Malbec, bright with blueberries and Coronation grapes bounding out of the glass. Served with a hint of a chill, it echoes a mighty fine cru Beaujolais.
The guy only made 20 cases of the stuff, so the only way to get your hands on some is to join his By Hand Wine Club. If you can't catch up with this one, I wholeheartedly endorse all of Tyler's wines. Dude knows what's up. Do track 'em down!
In the meantime, this Malbec tho. Holy shit.
UPDATE! Just got a note from the man, himself:
It’s from (Golden Mile Bench) grower Bruce Iversen, a certified organic grower (who also does amazing peaches and cherries). Just picked it and threw it into a bin. Wild ferment took off, swished it around a few times during ferment and then threw it into an old French barrel for four months. A bit of sulphur then in the bottle. No fining or filtration.
It was so nice to have a quick catch-up lunch last week with Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti of Tuscany's four-generations-strong Badia a Coltibuono winery and vineyards. We'd first met when she participated in our 2015 edition of Top Drop Vancouver, and I've been smitten with her family's wines ever since.
While we tasted through a bunch of her latest releases, the one that made time stand still for me was Badia a Coltibuono's 2011 Cultus Boni Chianti Classico Riserva D.O.C.G. It starts off with 80% Sangiovese, which I should mention isn't limited to one clone. Stucchi Prinetti enjoys the mix of clones growing on the family's organic vineyards, as she feels they offer a better expression of the estate's biodiversity. Beyond the Sangiovese, there's a whole flock of indigenous varieties like Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Canaiolo, Mammolo, Fogliatonda, Malvasia Nera, Sanforte and Pugnitello, some so rare they were salvaged from the odd property around the area, where they'd been growing wild and un-checked for decades. These varieties are obviously right at home in the sunny region's clay and limestone soils.
Those few years of age on the wine serve it well; BOY - is it ever hittin' its stride. They do things authentically at Coltibuono, so we're indeed talking hand-picked fruit, wild-yeast ferments and so on. After a couple years in an array of casks and French barrique, the wine is then ready to step out into the world.
This particular edition is well-built with sticky black fruit, a good dose of fennel (both bulb and frond), dusty cocoa, and just a pinch of pepper on the finish. Fascinating, swoon-worthy stuff.
Here in Vancouver, it's imported by Waldorf Wine and $53 at BC Liquor Stores; beyond our borders - you can track it down on Wine Searcher right here...