NGW: Tormaresca Neprica Puglia 2010.   4 comments

George Clooney is a Bastard.  Isn’t he?

Of course I know it’s Friday!  But after a nine-hour flight yesterday, I am still fighting off the after-effects of Jet-lag as I release this week’s NG Wednesday post.  You see, we have just returned from two weeks in the land of Caesar, Nero, Caligula and Burlusconi.  Here also, the influence of the Medici and the Venetian Dukes can still be felt.  Hundreds of years ago, these were places where secret accusations and private trials could result in your imprisonment.  Face your accuser?  Not likely.  Right against self-incrimination?  Too progressive.  Cruel and Unusual Punishment was the norm.  But this being the 21st Century, and what may have passed for progressive thinking back then is more the norm nowadays. 

And since we are in a new century, it is also now the Land of Clooney– well at least if you go to Lake Como it feels that way.  A true Sybarite, if ever there was one.  And, of course, he has the coin to be able to easily pull this off.  If I didn’t admire his lifestyle so much, I’d say he’s a bastard.  And that he might just be.  But I guess I could handle being called a bastard and worse if I lived like he does.

The Italian economy may be sucking wind.  There may be earthquakes and shipwrecks to contend with.  But it is still Italy and that means that it still has plenty of magic embedded in the pure fact of its existence.   Who can blame Clooney for wanting to live it up in Italy during the Summer?  I can think of worse places to spend Euros like a fool.

One of the highlights of the excursion was a visit to Piemonte (which included a luncheon in Barolo and a special tasting of the wines of Ettore Germano) and La Banca del Vino.  Located in Pollenzo, which is situated just west of Alba in Piemonte, we were treated to some interesting wines.  (Many thanks to our friends, Marclifestyle and Silvia, for setting this up!)

But first, a little bit about La Banca del Vino.  It is part of the college of gastronomy, where students enter a three-year course of study to learn about food & beverage appreciation.  This is not a cooking school.  But the campus includes a fine restaurant, a hotel, classrooms and of course La Banca.  A good way to think of this place is that it appears to follow the “Teaching Hospital” model, where classroom instruction is accompanied by hands on practical experience in the hotel, restaurant and La Banca, where the students interact with visitors from outside the campus.  At the end of their studies some graduates move on jobs in the hospitality industry or become food and wine writers.

La Banca is a place where many quality Italian producers “deposit” or more appropriately “contribute” a few cases of their vintages for storing and aging in the very fine air controlled vault built on the foundation of what used to be a mausoleum.  Many of the highest quality names, large and small, in Italian wine can be found here.  

Associati alla Banca del VinoAfter touring the vault, we participated in a tasting of 5 wines (Euro 20 per person).  The student manning the vault that day was a young woman, self-assured and smart, if not always correct in describing the wines we tasted.  There were a couple of areas where there could be improvement in the presentation of the wine for the tasting.  First, she presented each wine but asked us not to taste them before they were all poured out in order to allow them to develop in the glass simultaneously.  Fair enough—but then she put the wines bottles away from us so that we had to keep rising from the tasting table to look at the bottles to see what it was that we were drinking.  In her short description, she provided vintages, regions and varietals, though she did not name any of the producers.  Whether this is by design or by oversight, I am not sure. This could have been solved if the tasting were to include a short menu of the wines with vintage, varietal, producer, appellation and so forth.

During the tasting, the flight of wines included a Barbera, two Nebbiolos, an Aglianico and a Nero d’Avola.  Off the bat, before even tasting, I was not looking forward to the Nero d’Avola, as I tend to often find that they are overripe, over-extracted and too rustic for my taste.  Keep an open mind I had to remind myself as we worked our way through the tasting and arrived at the NdA.  The two Nebbiolos, one from Gattinara near the Italian Alps, and the other from Barbaresco, were the ones I was looking forward to tasting.  The Barbera was also high on the list. 

Cascina Castelet Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2006.  Initially opening with characteristic Barbera acidity, this seemed to soften as it opened up.  Revealing the classic combination of red and black fruit, this is an accessible Barbera.  Did I mention this is food friendly?  Rated **1/2

Torraccia Del Piantavigna Gattinara 2007.  The best wine of the tasting.  With aromas reminiscent of forest, this Nebbiolo changed as we sipped at it revealing herbs and a lovely finish with supportive tannins.  Rated ***

Sottimano Barbaresco 2002.  This was a very difficult vintage for Barolo and Barbaresco.  With so much rain, the grapes in some vineyards were too bloated to ripen properly.  Then a hail storm hit causing so much damage throughout the region that many producers did not harvest the crop.  Sottimano was one of the few producers to bottle their single vineyard Barbaresco.  Had this been a complete blind tasting, I would have said this was a California wine.  Opening and finishing with a strong oak presence, it was fruit forward (more international in style) and even at 12 years of age still retained strong tannins.  It was our least favorite wine of the tasting and yet, given the vintage’s challenges, is a success of sorts.  Rated **

Damaschito Basilicata Aglianico del Vulture 2007.  Approachable dried fruit aromas and flavors, it reminded me of why I like Aglianico.  Rated **1/2

Gulfi Nerojbleo Nero d’Avola Sicilia 2003.  An in your face nose full of earth and dark fruit, this was the surprise wine of the tasting.  Well balanced. This is one that would easily accompany many grilled dishes.  Perhaps the fruit was tamed by the fact that it is a 9-year-old bottle.  Definitely the oldest NdA I have ever had.  Rated **1/2

These wines may not be easily available in the U.S., but they present a lesson in keeping an open mind—the words that I used as I took my first taste of the surprisingly good Nero d’Avola.  With this Italian inspiration, here is

Tormaresca Neprica Puglia 2010 ($8).  An attractive blend of Negroamaro (40%), Primitivo (30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) , this is a nice example of what wine from Puglia can be.  Fruit forward on the nose and palate, it delivers soft red and black plum essence, though it is really done in a stripped down “Plain Jane” style.  The Cabernet lends it structure and it has surprisingly good length for the money.  Rated **
Now, I am not Clooney.  But for the past two weeks I felt the magic.  We laughed.  We sang.  We ate very well.  And we popped the corks on some nice bottles.

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted July 6, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

4 responses to “NGW: Tormaresca Neprica Puglia 2010.

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  1. SS, Seems like you were living the “Clooney” life-style: “I felt the magic.”

    “Had this been a complete blind tasting, I would have said this was a California wine.” With this you said: “It was our least favorite wine of the tasting. . .”; is that a reflection of you appreciation of Ca. wine? 😉

    Good to have back your stimulating writing!

  2. Good point– THESE days (a huge qualification) I am trending more toward the classic Old World styles. Though I have to point out that there are many California wines that I adore.

    This particular Barbaresco just did not hang with the rest of the pack that day. The biggest flaw for me was the use of oak. As we heard at one point at Ettore Germano, and I paraphrase, “Oak is an instrument, not an ingredient.” The other wines in the tasting did not have that.

    Now that we are state-side, it is back to reality… even Clooney has to work once in a while…

  3. Hi! I have nominated you as one the Most Versatile Blogger Award. To see my post here my link

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