Category Archives: Gavi

Wine and White Truffles at SD26 in NYC

This is the holiday season but it is also the season for white truffles. As the weather turns colder one can dream of Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo and il tartufo bianco of Alba on pasta, risotto and eggs. Sometimes the dream becomes a reality.  On Tuesday afternoon, a friend called and asked if I was free Thursday night.  When I said yes,  he invited me to join him and two friends for the white truffle gala dinner at SD26 in NYC.  Of course I accepted!

Beni di Batasiolo, a wine producer from Piedmont whose wines I know and like would supply the wines.  It promised to be a very memorable evening.

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Tony May Presenting Our Truffle

The main dining room was filled to capacity.  Tony May and his daughter Marisa May, the restaurant owners, graciously welcomed the guests.

The hors d’oeuvres were served at the table and included robiola cheese and mushrooms on toast, crostini with cured lard and anchovy (a favorite), and tartra Piemontese with crispy sage and paddlefish caviar on olive oil potato purèeIMG_4361

The wine was the Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Granee” DOCG 2012 100% Cortese. The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity which made it go very well with all the hors d’oeuvres.

Our Truffle

Our Truffle

Each table of diners received a very large white truffle placed on the table with a truffle cutter. The truffle was ours to grate on the next three courses.  Tony May spoke about the truffles and showed us how to grate it.  Every one covered their dishes with the truffle, but it was so big that there was some left over and each of us took some home. Michele made pasta with the truffle the next evening.

Beef Crudo

Beef Crudo

The first course was Fassone beef crudo with fresh porcini and olio extra virgine novello served with the Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 “Bricco di Vergne,” 100% Dolcetto. The vineyard is located between the towns of La Morra and Barolo, on very steep slopes facing southwest at 480 meters. The soil has layers of sand and sandstone, which lightens the structure of the mainly marly soil. Grapes are harvested by hand around the last week in September. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place with maceration on the skins between 8 to 10 days. This is an elegant, well balanced fruity wine with a lot of red fruit and a hint of cherries that worked very well with this dish.

Truffles and an Egg

Truffles and an Egg

The menu said Sunchokes and Potato Gratin with young Fontina and chives, but what arrived was toast with melted Fontina topped with a poached egg.  The warmth of the egg brought out the aroma of the truffles we shaved on top.  It was wonderful–I just love truffles and eggs.

 We had this with the Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” 2011, 100% Barbera. The vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo.IMG_4363

It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. The excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age. The harvest took place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age.

Tony demonstrating the proper use of the Truffle grater with Marisa May

Tony demonstrating the proper use of the Truffle grater with Marisa May

The next course was the Toma Piemontese filled ravioli del plin, with toasted hazelnuts and sage, a classic  Piemontese dish.  This was a perfect combination with the Barbaresco DOCG 20010 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. This is a very traditional Barbaresco and it was perfect with this dish.IMG_4364

Last but not least there was pan-seared saddle of venison, barbera wine infused pear, and foie gras. Two Barolo’s were served with this dish.  The Barolo DOCG “Vigneto Boscareto” 2003 made from 100% Nebbiolo in its subvarities: Michet, Lampia and Rosè from the village of Serralunga. The soil is marl composed of limestone and clay, intermingled with sand. The terrain is hilly and the vineyard faces south/southwest at 300 to 400 meters. There are 3,700 vines per hectare and the average age of the vines is 25 years. The training system is classic guyot modified with arch canes. Harvesting of the grapes takes place the last week in October. There is traditional red wine fermentation with maceration on the skins for 10 to 15 days. After fermentation the wine is aged in traditional oak casks for at least two years and one year in bottle before release. 2003 was a very hot vintage but this wine was showing well. There were hints of ripe fruit, plums, spice, figs and tea.IMG_4366

Barolo “ Corda della Briccolina” 1996 100% Nebbiolo from the three sub varieties. The vineyard is facing southwest which in this area it is called a vigneto di mezzogiorno. The soil is calcareous marl rich in limestone and calcium carbonate. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place followed by 15 days of maceration then a decanting process. The wine is aged for at least two years in barriques and one year in bottle before release. 1996 was an excellent vintage for Barolo. This wine has aromas and flavors of red berries with hints of cedar, spice, licorice and a touch of vanilla.IMG_4367

For dessert there was a “Domori” Dark Chocolate Tortino and white truffle gelato. Moscato D’Asti “Bosc D’la Rei” 2012, made from100% Moscato Bianco accompanied the dessert. The grapes are grown in soil that is marly and calcareous and the terrain is hilly. The exposure is northwest, there are 3,500 plants per hectare and the vineyard is at 380 to 410 meters. Average age of the vines is 15 years. The training system is guyot modified into small arches. Harvesting is by hand the last week of September. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place and the juice is cooled to 0°C. and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation (partially fermented with abundant residual sugar) begins a month before bottling. It is a very slow process and the alcohol reaches 5.5% by volume. This is an elegant aromatic dessert wine with hints of overripe fruit.

The Executive Chef at SD26 is Matteo Bergamini

The event and dinner exceeded my every expectation!

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Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Dolcetto, Gavi, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, SD 26, SD26, Tony May, Truffles

Meeting a Facebook Friend who Owns a Winery in Piedmont

 Massimo Pastura is a friend that I met through Facebook. I am always interested in his postings since he is the owner of Cassina La Ghersa in Piedmont. Recently Massimo contacted me and said that he was going to be in NYC and could we meet for lunch. He asked if he could bring some of his wine for me to taste. Since I knew of his winery, but had never tasted the wine, I was looking forward to our meeting.

Massimo Pastura

Massimo Pastura

Over lunch Massimo said that the winery is family owned and managed and he is the fourth generation. The winery is located in the hills between Nizza Monferrato and Moasca. His winery uses only the traditional grape varieties  the area and they are very proud of the different styles of Barbera that they produce. Massimo made it clear that they do sustainable farming– no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used.

The WinesIMG_4304

Gavi “Il Poggio” 2011 made from 100% Cortese. The grapes are estate grown. The vineyard is between the towns of Gavi and Novi Liqure. The training of the vines is vertical trellis and simple guyot and grass is grown between the rows.  There are 4,500 vines/hectares and the soil is calcareous, limestone with a lot of stones. The vines are over 60 years old and they face southwest at 350 meters. Grapes are hand harvested in September. The grapes are crushed and soft-pressed after 12 hours of cryomaceration (holding the crushed grapes and the skins at extremely low temperatures before fermentation.) Static decanting of the must takes place for 12 hours before starting the fermentation with special selected yeasts inoculated in the must. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for a period of 10/12 days depending on the vintage. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks for 6 months.  Weekly vigorous stirring of the wine takes place in order to keep the lees in suspension and assure an adequate balance. After 2 months in bottle the wine is released. The wine has aromas and flavors of peach, tropical fruit, a touch of lime, nice minerality and good acidity. $20IMG_4305

Colli Tortonesi Timorasso DOC Bianco “Sivoy” (meaning slide or slipping) 2010. The soil of the Siovy hill is clay and very hard and the rain water slips down very fast into the valley.  The wine is mostly Timorosso with a little Cortese. Massimo said that the Timorosso grape is only produced in the Colli Tortonesi and there are only 52 hectares of vines. Timorasso is a very old indigenous variety which was almost completely ignored during the 1960’s and 1970’s but has made a comeback. Massimo made it clear that wines made from this grape get better with time and can age up to 10 years or more. The average age of the vines is 15 years. The training system is vertical trellis and simple guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the vineyard faces southwest. The harvest takes place in September. The grapes are crushed and soft pressed with a horizontal membrane press after 36/48 hours cryomaceration. Static decanting of the must tales place for 14/16 hours before the alcoholic fermentation (in stainless steel tanks for 15/20 days) starts using special select yeast inoculated in the must. The wine is on the lees in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and 8/10 months in bottle before release. $20IMG_4306

Barbera d’Asti “Piagè”   DOCG 2010 100% Barbera. In the Middle Ages Piagè was the place where the toll was collected. Grapes come from local estate grown selected vineyards. There are 5,000 wines per hectares and the average age of the vines is 10/15 years and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is mainly clayey limestone with rocks. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, skin contact is about 12 days and there is frequent pumping. Malolactic fermentation takes place and heating if necessary by means of inoculation of malolactic bacteria to facilitate the start of the fermentation. The wine is then left to settle in cement tanks for a few months. Massimo said that this was his every day Barbera. The wine was very easy to drink with nice aromas amd flavors of red berries, a hint of cherry and current and good acidity. This is a red wine that can go with a number of different foods.$14

Barbera D’Asti DOCG Superiore Nizza “Vignassa” 1999 100% Barbera. Massimo said that the Vignassa vineyard was the first one planted by his grandfather after the vineyards were destroyed by phyloxera. The vines were grafted onto American rootstock “St George” aka “Rupestris du Lot” which is resistant to phyloxera. Over the years the St George rootstock became more and more deformed so everyone started to call the vineyard Vignassa- ugly-vines. He said that when they dig up one of the old vines the roots go down as much as five feet. The average age of the vines is 90 years. Before the fermentation begins the “salasso” (Italian for siagneè) where the juice is blended off the must after limited contact with the skin. Massimo said this gives a  higher content of extract, which makes the wine suitable  for longer aging. Fermentation takes place in French oak barrels of 52HL. The must is left in contact with the skin for 18/20 days. The dèlestage aspirates all of the must, which determines the fall of the cap on the bottom of the tank.The wine is aged in new French oak barriques: fine grain and medium toast for 24 months. The barrels are seasoned for 3 years before they are used. This is a big wine that is almost 15 years old and showing no sign of age. $75IMG_4307

Colli Tortonesi 2011 Croatina DOC 100% Croatina. Massimo said that he just started making wine from this grape a few years ago. Massimo said the grape was also known as Bonarda and Uva Rara. The vineyard is Tenuta Mongualdone in Sarezzano and the average age of the vines is 10 years. The soil is dark clay. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, with selected yeast, for 8-10 days with pumping over, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is not filtered but lightly fined. The wine is aged in two, three and four yeas old French barriques. Only 2,000 cases are produced. $20. The distributor is T. Edward Wine, NYC

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Filed under Barbera, Cassina La Ghersa, Croatina, Gavi, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Massimo Pastura, Timorasso, Uncategorized

The Principessa and Pasta for the Weekend

 

A few weeks ago a friend invited us over for dinner. She is an excellent cook and made one of my favorite pasta dishes, a recipe from Michele’s book 1,000 Italian Recipes (Wiley), Fettuccine with 1,000 Herbs.   The pasta was al dente and the aroma of the herbs on the hot pasta was wonderful.IMG_3381

The wine that she chose to accompany the pasta was a Gavi, Principessa Gavia.  This was an inspired choice as the wine complemented the herbal and tomato flavors in the sauce.  It was a truly perfect match.IMG_3383

Principessa Gavia 2012 Gavi DOCG Made from 100% Cortese. The grapes are estate grown and carefully selected.  The clear must is gently pressed and fermented at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees for 20 days.  The wine had forward fruit, a hint of apple, good acidity and a nice dry finish.

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Fiorenzo Dogliani and the Wines of Beni di Batasiolo

When I was the wine director at I Trulli Restauant, we carried a number of Batasiolo wines. They were very well made wines and very well priced.  But I had not tasted these wines in a few years so when I received an invitation for a tasting and lunch at Il Postino, I was happy to accept.

Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani

My host was Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani, a charming and knowledgeable man, not only about wine but also about everything in the Langhe.  During the lunch we spoke about Piedmontese wine in general, the food of the area and the restaurants. I really enjoyed speaking to him.

He related a little of the history of the winery.  Dogliani was the original name but it had to be changed in 1978. This was done, Mr. Dogliani said, to avoid confusion with a large co-operative, which produced Dolcetto in the Dogliani designation. He said that there were seven beni farmhouses with vineyards- when they brought the property in La Morra in the 1950’s. The name Beni di Batasiolo was chosen because it was in keeping with the tradition that identifies a real value with the term “bene”, here applied to the land, the vineyards and the farm. The winery now has nine “beni” covering a total of over 100 hectares, 60 of which are planted with Nebbiolo.  Mr. Dogliani said that they have a philosophy of the land, understanding the terroir and using mostly traditional grapes and methods.

The Wine

Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2010 100% Cortese The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity. $18.9

Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” DOC 2009 100% Barbera.  Mr Dogliani made the point that the vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo. It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. He feels this excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age.

The harvest takes place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age. $22.99

Barbaresco DOCG 2008 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. $36 

Barolo DOCG 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo, in its subvarities of Michet, Lampia and Rosé. Harvest takes place from the 10th of October to the first ten days of November. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel with long maceration on the skins for 15/20 days.  Aging takes place in traditional Slavonion oak casks for 2 years and one year in bottle before release. The wine had flavors and aromas of dried fruit, spice and a touch of tobacco and leather. $40

Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Moscato Bianco. The vines are grown in the hill terrain of Serralunga with a north, northwest exposure at 380- 410 meters. There are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vines are 15 years old. The soil is of calcareous and marl. Harvest takes place during the last 10 days of September. The grapes are hand picked and delivered to the winery in 20Kg containers, keeping the bunches intact as much as possible. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and a partial fermentation with abundant residual sugar. The juice is then cooled to zero C and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation begins a month before the first bottling, a very slow process reaching 5.5% alcohol by volume. It has aromas and flavors of pineapple; melon and a slight hint of oranges $16.99 

Moscato Spumante Rosè 2010 Made from Moscato Bianco and Moscato Rosa. Mr. Dogliani said that the Moscato Rosa came from the Trentino area. The grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness.  After pressing the juice is then filtered in specially designed centrifuges. The liquid is stored in thermally insulated containers at extreme low temperatures. The secondary fermentation takes place in pressure tanks following the charmat method. This was a very easy wine to drink, with aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit $16.99 (the wine is not a Piemonte DOC because the Moscato Rosa came from Trentino.

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Filed under Asti, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Gavi, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Piedmont, Sparkling wine, White wine

Pio Cesare’s Piemonte with Pio Boffa at Eataly

Pio Boffa

 On my first visit to Piemonte in 1982, I stayed at Il Giardino di Felicin in Monforte d’Alba.  The owner, Giorgio Rocca, a very charming host and great chef, offered to help us make arrangements to visit some of the local producers.  I mentioned Pio Cesare and he quickly made an appointment for the next morning.  At the winery in Alba, we were met by Pio Boffa, the owner of Pio Cesare.  His English is excellent, and we had a wonderful visit and tasting.  Ever since then, whenever I am in that area, I try to visit the winery and always receive a warm welcome.  

 Recently Pio was in New York to teach a class at Eataly and I went to see him.

During the class Pio talked about the history of his winery and how he was the only one in the family who followed his father into the wine business which he joined in 1973. Tradition is very important to Pio and he said that he tries to make wine in the same way as they did in the past. The winery is in the same location as it has always been, right in the center of Alba.  Pio said that he was very proud of the fact that his father, Giuseppe Boffa, told Pio his wine was the same as he himself had made 50 years ago. Pio hopes that in the next few years his daughter will follow in his footsteps.  Ten years ago, Pio’s nephew joined the winery.  

 The Pio Cesare winery produces 40,000 cases of wine a year, which according to Pio makes them a middle size producer. In the 1960’s and 1970’s there were only a few producers in the area but now there are many more. Since then, the more traditional and conservative producers have had to fight to keep their share of the market. The “new” producers used different wine making techniques and started to make single vineyard (cru) wines.  Concessions have to be made but not at the cost of tradition. That is why Pio Cesare maintains the same bottle, same label, and same style of wine as in the past.

The Wines

 Cortese di Gavi 2009 100% Cortese- the vines are on hillside vineyards in very select locations in the Gavi area. Theses vineyards belong to growers that have been producing grapes for Pio Cesare for generations and who have worked their vineyards according to Pio’s strict quality controls. Slow fermentation takes place at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks on the lees for four months. The wine is kept in stainless steel tanks until March after the harvest when it is bottled. Pio Boffa said that malolatic fermentation depended on the vintage and for this wine 1/3 underwent malolatic. He went on to say that 2/3 of all Gavi were produced in the flat valley area. His grapes are grown on the hillside where the soil is drier and there is a southern exposure. Here the yields are lower and the grapes ripen later. Because of this the wine is more complex, will age better, have more fruit and a mineral character with good acidity. He added as an aside that the Cortese grape was difficult to grow because it is very acidic. However by growing the grapes on the hillside and leaving it on the lees one can produce a very good wine. This is a fresh, fruity, aromatic white wine with some complexity. $27

 Chardonnay “Piodilei” 2008 100% Chardonnay.  This is a single vineyard, barrel fermented Chardonnay, from the very first Chardonnay vineyard they planted in 1980, at the “Il Bricco Estate” in Treiso, in the Barbera area.   Pio pointed out that this is not a “traditional” wine. The yields are kept low and the grapes are picked when they are fully ripened, late harvest. Fermentation occurs on the lees in new French oak barrels. The wine in aged on the lees in French oak barrels for 10 months, and for six months in the bottle before release. 1/3 of the wine underwent malolatic. The wine has ripe fruit flavors a touch of spice, and a long finish. $32

  Pio said that white grapes grown in the right terroir and that are allowed to remain on the less produce a wine that is more like a red wine.

 Barbera D’Alba “Fides” 2007 100% Barbera.    Pio has a strong feeling for Barbera and called it the wine of the people of Piemonte The grapes for this wine come from a single vineyard in their “Colombaro” vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. This is a prime area for growing Nebbiolo. The wine is called Fides, Latin for trust and faith.  Pio said that this was a true act of trust and faith on the part of him and his father. In fact they both came up with the idea at the same time. He pointed out that if it was planted with Nebbiolo the land would be worth four times as much. Other producers give Nebbiolo the highest position and the most southern exposure while leaving Barbera at a less elevated position. Pio said the all his Barbera grapes have the same position as his Nebbiolo. They used a very old clone of Barbera that is not used any more.

Fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks and skin contact lasts for ten days. Right after being drawn off, the wine rests for 20 months in medium toasted French oak casks: 80% in barriques and 20% in 20hl casks.  This is a wine with fresh ripe fruit aromas and flavors, with a hint of spice and good acidity. $44 The wine can age and it was a great combination with the agnolotti del plin, “pinched” ravioli that are typical of Piemonte, that we tasted. 

 It was unfortunate that one important producer, that Pio would not name, decided not to produce any Barolo or Barbaresco in 2006. This led many to assume that it was not a very good vintage. Pio said that in his opinion the 2006 vintage was very good for both Barolo and Barbaresco and it was a very traditional vintage for Nebbiolo.  Now that the wines have been released it is evident that it was a very good traditional vintage.

 Pio said that he has tasted Nebbiolo grown in other parts of the world and it did not taste like Nebbiolo.  In other parts of Italy they make wine from Nebbiolo but the style is different. None of these can compare with Nebbiolo when it is made into Barbaresco and Barolo- -there is just something about the terroir. Pio added that for him Barolo was the King of wine and Barbaresco was the Queen.

 Barbaresco 2006 The grapes come from Pio’s family owned vineyards, Il Bricco Estate, and the great hill of San Stefanetto, both located in the village of Treiso.  Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks and skin contact lasts for about 20 days. 35% of the wine is aged in French oak barrels,1/3 new, for 30 months and the remaining 65% spends three years in French oak casks, 20 to 50 hl each. This is a traditional classic Barbaresco and has long aging potential. $62

 Barolo 2006 100% Nebbiolo The grapes for this wine come from his family owned vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Mora (Roncaglie) and Barolo-Novello (Ravara). The balance of the grapes comes from other exclusive vineyards owned by growers who have provided grapes to his family for generations. This he said was his traditional Barolo-his “regular old classic style.”  Blending grapes from different vineyards was the traditional way to make Barolo. Grapes from different locations give different characteristics to the wine — color from one, complexity from another, concentration and longevity from other sites, but all are the essence of the terroir. This is a traditional classic Barolo and will age very well for a number of years  $67

 Barolo 2006 “Oronato” 100%.   Nebbiolo this is a single vineyard Barolo from very ripe grapes of three different plots of the family owned Ornato Estate in Serralunga d’Alba.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for 15 days. The wine is aged in medium toasted French oak barrels, for 36 months, 70% in new barriques and 30% in 25 hectoliter casks. This is a big, concentrated Barolo that is produced in small quantities (7,000 bottles) and only in the best vintages. Pio said that this was a wine that was meant to age and only after a number of years will it show its true characteristics. $110

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Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Gavi, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Piemonte