Category Archives: Nebbiolo

Mergozzesi 2011 Barolo DOCG

100% Nebbiolo; 14% ABV; Piedmont, Italy
Imported by 8Vini
$12.99 at the San Diego (Downtown), CA store on 3 June

Mergozzesi Barolo 2011Curiosity got the better of me since I rarely drink Barolo and I missed out on the sub-$10 Barolo last year. I had to try this out after seeing it on a recent trip to the Bay Area where I couldn’t carry anything back so I sought it out while stocking up in San Diego (Downtown, though Pt. Loma has it).

Popped and poured through a Vinturi. Though very closed, the nose showed dark red cherry, licorice, and anise. At first taste, like many Barolos, it was clear that this wine required time to open up, and its inherent dryness and chewy tannins took over most flavors completely (not necessarily surprising from what I little I know of the varietal). I don’t drink a lot of (enough) red Italian varietals, but I did not expect any hidden deal of a Barolo from this bottle nor are you going to get it. 8Vini’s website describes its “great elegance, harmony and balance,” none of which was available at any time I tasted the wine. I would think this is almost what Barolo would taste like from the barrel or on the very, very young side and only one made from inferior fruit at that.

On Days 2 and 3, the berry flavors were more pronounced in the nose with riper fruit up front and on the mid palate and the wine had softened a touch. However, this is still a tannic, dry, fairly disjointed wine with off, vinegar-like flavors, thin mouthfeel and tannins (rather than flavor) dominating the finish. It just never came together regardless of its varietal or price point.

8Vini’s page is here:

There is also a 2009 Barbaresco from the same Producer that I skipped out on but was sold out, for what that is worth.


Leone 2009 Nebbiolo

Columbia Valley, WA; 13.5%
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Sept

leone_2009_nebbioloI’ve now consumed two bottles of this wine, and although I liked them both, they were a little different.

I thought the first bottle was considerably like a good CA Pinot Noir.  Although it lacked the strawberry / raspberry aspect of Pinot, it didn’t need much air to show a lot of the same darker red cherry, orange, and probably a little more of the usual earthy / woody aspect.  It went quite well with salmon. A day or two later, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap, bottle still needed a bit of air to come around, but was then much the same.  I quite liked it.

My second bottle was distinctly not Pinot Noir, showing darker tangy cherry, tending more toward plum, more cherry pit bitterness, and less orange.  Overall, I preferred the first bottle, especially since the saved screwcap bottle of this was rather dull and boring.

Did anyone out there try this?  What’d you think?

Cavatappi 2007 “Maddalena” Nebbiolo

Red Willow Vineyards, Yakima Valley, WA; 14% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 18 Dec

Cavatappi_2007_NebbioloWhen this showed up at the Richmond store, there had been some discussion here (and here) about a Cavatappi 2008 Sangiovese.  In particular, Lim13 wrote, “I’ve never been a fan of Peter Dow’s wines…just personal taste. Almost always austere and high in acidity.”  So, on one hand, I think I sometimes like wines that are less fruity than he does, but on the other… he’s usually right.  🙂  But after a couple days, curiosity got the better of me and I purchased this bottle.  I actually like it a lot.  I found it an interesting and tasty New World version of the Nebbiolo grape.

This wine was pretty good from first pour, but has held up very well for 3+ hours now.  It shows nice cherry fruit (ripe red, dried, and tart), with nice complexities of light earthy leather, roses, and dried orange peel.  For me at least, this is a pretty subtle wine.  Treat it as you would a more delicate Pinot Noir.  Unusually for me, I preferred its temperature on the cooler side, when I could better taste its complexities over its New World fruit that is more sweetly ripe than the Italian Nebbiolos (Barolo and Barbaresco) I’ve tasted.  It’s probably fully mature, and I did not find it too austere or acid.  Tonight, it went well with roasted Cornish game hens (GO, $2 each, IIRC).



Risorgimento 2010 Barbaresco

Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont, (northwest) Italy; 14% ABV
$12 at the Oakland, CA, store on 7 Nov

Risorgimento_2010_BarbarescoThe 2010 and 2011 Risorgimento Barbarescos have been around for a good while now, and I believe Seedboy recommended the 2010.  (Robert Parker’s vintage chart, linked to in the right margin, gives 2010 a “95T” and 2011 a “90T,” where “T” is for “tannic, youthful, or slow to mature.”)  I finally picked one up during the recent sale.  It struck me as a bit young, but quite tasty once it finally aired.

I opened this on Thanksgiving, thinking to substitute this lighter-bodied, aromatic red (made from the Nebbiolo grape) for the more traditional lighter-bodied, aromatic, Pinot Noir.  It didn’t work because, even after sitting in a decanter for about four hours, the wine had not really opened.  I put the rest, about 40% of it, back in the bottle and put the cork back in.

The next day, that remainder still had not opened.  I poured it back into a decanter and tried it a few hours later.  It had finally opened and was really quite good!  It showed delicious flavors of ripe, dark red cherries, tangy tart cherries, leather, earth, a little orange, all nicely integrated and elegant.  If I were going to open another soon, I’d probably put it in a covered decanter for a day, and then open the decanter a few hours before drinking it.  However, I’d most likely instead put it in cool storage for at least a few years.

Egads!  Lim13 has already reviewed this wine here.

La Loggia 2005 Barolo DOCG

Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, (NW) Italy; 14% ABV
$8 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 1 Aug

LaLoggia_2005_BaroloAs I was tasting this wine, I had two questions about it.  First, does it taste like Barolo, and second, is it good wine?  While I’ll affirm the first question, I’m more ambivalent on the second.

To me, the best thing about this wine is its nose, which is absolutely Barolo: dried or otherwise-oxidized preserved ripe red cherries, dried orange peel, earthy brown leather, tart red cherries, and especially with more air (as Seedboy recommended, it needs 2 hours in a decanter and keeps developing nicely after that), purple cherries / medium purple plum.  However, on the palate, I found those flavors in this medium-bodied wine marred by stemmy bitterness and excess acid.  There were moments here and there, where it all seemed to clear up and become a lovely wine, so maybe it will still improve with age, but mostly I found it rather problematic.   So… if you especially like Barolo or if you’re curious about what Barolo is, this could be an interesting wine at a relatively low price.  (I think it could be pretty good with a roasted chicken.)  However, I would guess most folks will not be especially attracted to it.  For a roughly similar wine at the same price, I think I’d prefer the Azul Portugal 2008 Bairrada, although respected commenter JoelA didn’t like that very much, either.

2010 Risorgimento Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy $11.99

Seattle 4th Ave.    14% alc.    (Purchased on 1/18/14)

IMG_1395100% Nebbiolo   This wine has been discussed by a number of our readers (Seedboy in particular) in the “What’s New” section of this blog…mostly positive comments.  So I had to try it (with broccoli) and wanted to share a photo of the bottle/label.  Be sure to follow the thread of comments below Seedboy’s original one.

Clear medium ruby/garnet, but with just the slightest brick tone around the edge.  A bit alcoholly in the nose, but also shows smoked meats, black and green olives, fennel and an almost sweet cooked tomato quality.  In the mouth, it’s somewhat tannic, but hardly big, bold and “in your face”.  Has excellent acidity, which also seems to serve in softening the tannins.  The flavors show more fennel/licorice, tart dried cherry, more smoked meat, a certain earthiness and underripe pomegranate.  A bit short on the finish and slightly one-dimensional with the tannins showing most clearly in the finish.  Most definitely best enjoyed with food…and it should age fairly well.  Of the two Italian reds I recently reviewed, I prefer the Ripasso.

Finally, BargainWhine found some interesting historical information about the name of the wine’s producer, Risorgimento.  Neither he, nor I got much further than the first paragraph…but interesting nonetheless.  And for our readers who might be unfamiliar with Barbaresco, here’s some background info.

2006 Mandolina Nebbiolo

Santa Barbara Co., CA
100% Nebbiolo, 14.1% alc.
$5 at the Berkeley, CA store

I was pretty excited to see this wine given that this grape makes stunning Barolo and Barbaresco in Italy and I haven’t seen very many California versions. Distributed by our defunct friends MWD, Mandolina appears to be a second label of the fairly well-regarded Lucas & Lewellen winery, and the Gross Out price is right. The wine pours a pale dark cherry and opens with a varietally correct nose of faded raspberries, rose petals, and a hint of road tar. The palate presents flavors similar to the nose, no surprises here; decent acidity and fruit balance but very low tannin. Nebbiolos have a reputation for being quite tannic when young and intended for long aging, but many examples in their prime that have shed their tannins come to resemble pinot noir in body and texture but with different flavors and aromas. This wine appears to be somewhat lightly extracted, as it already resembles a pinot at six years of age; the tannins and extract just aren’t there. A few hours and then a day of air didn’t do much to bring out any aromatic complexity, which is the hallmark of a good Nebbiolo. This wine is thus both interesting and educational as an attempt to vinify the grape in California but is also pretty disappointing compared with the glories it achieves in Piedmont. The verdict: a pleasant wine with enough varietal character to stand out from an ocean of other California reds at this price point but ultimately not very exciting; worth trying, but not a repeat buy for me.