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Some of the Most Special Italian Wines We’ve Seen This Year…

Ok, they may be the most special Italian wines we’ve seen this year. First, let me say that there’s not a ton of information on this to be readily found online. You have to dig a little bit and (in our case) talk to someone who sells it and has actually been there.

Before we get to that though, let me talk you through why I was so excited to get these wines in in the first place. As a wine dork, there are likely a number of experiences you have over the years tasting and experiencing wine that always stick with you. One that will always remain with me is the first time I ever experienced aged top-quality aged German Riesling (a 2011 S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Old Vine Dry Riesling that was just starting to hit its stride). Absolutely blew my mind. Tasting wine from the tank (mid-fermentation) at Cline in Sonoma was another. But the one that really takes the cake was my first wine from the winery we’re showcasing today.

I even saved the pictures! This was a 1998 Barbera d’Asti (not a style known for long-term ageability) that I bought from a top-drawer local merchant in 2021. Twenty. Three. Years old. Here’s the thing…tasted blind, based simply on the color, the aromas, and the flavors, without any other knowledge of the wine…I would have pegged this as a reasonably youthful Italian red. It absolutely blew me away. It was fresh-tasting…there was acidity…there was still plenty of fruit left. It just didn’t make any bloody sense. And it was awesome. Fast foward almost two years, an I’m now back in the wine business and lucky enough to be working with the merchant who brings this winery’s offerings into the States. And look what we were able to get!

We managed to snag a tiny bit (three bottles) of the 1979 Vino Rosso (a declassified Barbaresco!!) and, initially, six bottles of the 2011 Barbera d’Asti. I was so excited when these came in a few days ago. I wanted to blog it out immediately…we’re incredibly, incredibly honored to get to stock these bottles. You simply don’t see wines like these on grocery store shelves. You just don’t! We’ve been crazy busy lately, and I was particularly tired the night they came in, so I figured I’d take one home the next night, blog it for y’all, and happily announce that we’d found a treasure!

Problem was, when I came back in, the Barbera was gone. All of it. Quite apart from any hand-selling or fancy marketing on my part, someone had come in, seen these on the shelf, recognized what they were, and snapped them up in an instant. So today, we lucked out an got a bit more in, and I cannot wait to try a bottle later this week for the Holiday!

The winery actually has 4-5 wines available for sale right now (including another couple of bottlings from the 1960s and 1970s!) but whereas the 1979 Rosso and 2011 Barbera d’Asti are in excellent condition and extremely consistent an reliable, our rep said that there was rather more bottle variation in the others. You might get a stunning bottle but, well, you might not. I asked him what made these wines so special, what allowed them to age so gracefully and stay so bright and full of life, but there was really nothing procedural he could point to…some producers just have a bit of that mystical je ne sais quoi and, if the bottle of 1998 I had was any indication, this producer really can conjur up a bit of magic.

These won’t be avaialble long-term, so if this sounds up your alley, why not snag a bottle sooner than later? I bet that Barbera would shine on the table this Thanksgiving!

2011 Cantine Castello di Montegrosso Barbera d’Asti Ruleja $33.99/bottle, with a $.30 Fuel Saver!!

1979 Cantine Castello di Montegrosso Vino Rosso (Declassified Barbaresco, labelled ‘Vino Rosso’ for some legal reason I couldn’t understand) $94.99/bottle




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