For the month of January we will be exploring Piedmont and Burgundy. Why together you ask.
The Piedmont part of the theme I confess is driven by the fact that I will be going there in mid-January. I have never been and it is definitely a missing piece of my wine education. As a “wine person” (wine-lover, aficionado, collector) I feel like I must go to Piedmont. That I am truly missing out on something. And similarly, if anything leaving a bigger hole, a real physical trip to Burgundy has been sadly missing. But that isn’t why we are linking them (otherwise there could unfortunately be a lot of places we would need to cover with this theme. I better make more travel plans!).
The reason is that Nebbiolo, arguably the most important grape from Piedmont, has oft been compared to Pinot Noir (Burgundy’s red grape) for its finicky nature. Pinot Noir is thought of and talked about as ‘the Holy Grail’ to pursue in winemaking. Nebbiolo is also. It certainly satisfies the fastidious, fussy criteria. It is a “temperamental creature” [Nicolas Belfrage, Barolo to Valpolicella]. It wants to be near but not at the top of a slope. It wants a certain soil (limestone with some clay). It really will only perform on a south or southwest facing exposure. Oh, and it is susceptible to frost damage because it buds early. And ripens late. There is not a lot of leeway – unlike with Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. Nebbiolo really does not give you a decent performance unless all its conditions are met. And only with an outstanding producer will you get a truly great Nebbiolo. Pinot Noir is likewise finicky.
We’re on a quest to uncover first-hand more links between these two places. We’ll explore both by tasting and doing a little research. This month with the bustle of the holidays behind us, the idea of curling up with a good wine book and reading about Piedmont and Burgundy is mighty appealing. As an aside, I highly recommend two on Italy: the just-quoted Barolo to Valpolicella by Nicolas Belfrage and David Lynch and Joe Bastianich’s Vino Italiano [you can get this book through Maslow 6]. And as mentioned, I will be working hard from Piedmont for a few days, tasting and visiting vineyards. I will do my best to keep you updated from Piedmont! Throughout January, we’ll be bringing you snippets of our research – both from our tasting and reading. And of course we invite you to join us every day, all during January, to taste a different wine from Piedmont or Burgundy. Check out our website to get the scoop on what we’re tasting every day. Or follow us on twitter.
This week just to give you a preview, we’ll be tasting Brezza’s Nebbiolo d’Alba 2007, Alain Burguet’s Bourgogne Rouge ‘le Pince Vin’ 2007, Da Capo’s Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato 2008 (what, you never heard of this?), and Sylvain Pataille’s Passetoutgrain 2007.