Friday, August 6, 2010

If I had to choose one winery?



Recently, I was involved in a discussion amongst collectors that really made me think. If you could have the portfolio of one winery in your cellar, and nothing else, which would it be? Most people first thought of that prized bottle that they hold on a pedestal and others were quick to answer a winery with a portfolio of wines that are great but all very similar. I answered, Vietti.

Why? Because with five years of serious wine collecting under my belt, I can think of no other winery with such a high level of quality and vast selection as Vietti (with Ridge vineyards as my runner up). What truly started me on the road to collecting wine with the intention of cellaring and enjoying throughout my life was a Vietti wine, namely the Barolo Rocche. It was “that” bottle, the one that convinces you that a wine can cost $100 and be worth every penny and also the wine that shows the overwhelming positives of buying a wine at release and cellaring it to mature perfection.

Don’t misinterpret me, Vietti is not just about $100 bottles of Barolo. Even I would get sick of drinking Barolo every night of my life… well, maybe not.

The fact is that Vietti is a producer of some of the best quality-to-price ratio wines coming out of Piedmont, Italy today. With an entry level, yet absolutely stunning Barbera Tre vigne and a fresh and bubbly Moscato d’Asti under $15, they fill the any day nitch. The Roero Arneis is a versatile, floral and mineral driven wine that can satisfy your thirst for both an unassuming as well as a thought provoking white wine. The extremely affordable Nebbiolo Perbacco is practically an entry level Barolo in all but name.

In fact, Vietti has a wine for just about any palate and any occasion. Their upper tier Barolo and Barbaresco are seductive and nuanced with the potential to age or be enjoyed young. And then, of course, there are the Barolos. First, the affordable, blended Castiglione, which receives fruit from a number of esteemed vineyards and, at an average cost of $45, is a serious value. Then, a set of unique, single vineyard bottlings, which are each, tailored to fit any preference of Barolo, whether it be the traditional and finessed Rocche or the oaky and rich Lazzarito.

Can you tell I'm smitten?

Well, it’s all that and more. If you know Vietti, I’m sure you agree, and if you don’t, then I suggest you seek them out. Because whether you have a ten bottle capacity wine fridge in your kitchen or a 10,000 bottle cellar you call home, these are wines that belong in everyone’s collection.

I’ve assembled my most recent notes on some Vietti wines I have in my cellar. Each is worth seeking out and please keep my scoring system in mind. Where many wine publications have submitted to the idea that great wine should always be 90+ points, I find that system flawed and leaving little room for the definition of great wine. In my book an 87 is a pretty good score and a 90+ is when you start getting into the truly stunning examples.

2008 Vietti Roero Arneis - Shows the color of golden yellow straw with whimsical aromas of spring rain, white flowers and lime. On the palate you find granny smith apple, green melon, and orange rind, all carried by vibrant acidity with a laser-like focus. The finish shows citrus fruit and leaves your palate feeling cleansed and refreshed. (89 pts.)

2009 Vietti Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta Vietti - Very refreshing with a semi-sweet spritz, a bit of yeast on the nose and white stone fruit on the palate. Very popular with the crowd I shared it with. Limited notes. (87 pts.)

2007 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne - The color is a deep reddish purple. On the nose I found red fruit with floral notes, cedar and a slight funk of undergrowth. A lively expression forms on the tongue as its brisk acidity makes the mouth water yet bombards it with sour cherry fruit. Juicy cranberry is on the finish, which stays fresh for what seems like a minute. This is textbook Barbera at a great price. (90 pts.)

2006 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco - Tasted between 3 to 6 hours of decanting. What a treat, with a nose full of black cherry, tobacco, new leather, and a bit of anise and undergrowth. The palate shows sour cherry, earth and citrus-prune on the mid palate. Medium bodied with a fresh but slightly tannic structure, this is followed by a long finish with raspberry fruit. Simply put, this is one of the two best Langhe Nebbiolos that I've ever had. (91 pts.)

1996 Vietti Barolo Rocche - Darker color than expected with a dark ruby red fading only slightly around the edges. The nose on the wine is incredibly expressive with deep black cherry, prunes, dried flowers and beef broth, initially. With more time in the glass, you find crushed, dried leaves and fruit compote. The palate is still masked to a small degree by a wall of tongue coating tannin, but still enjoyable with red fruits, tobacco and iodine. The finish shows bitter cocoa and sour cranberry fruit. (93 pts.)

2000 Vietti Barolo Rocche - Bouquet of fresh cut flowers, tobacco and leather with berry fruit. Full bodied with present but fine tannin and raspberry fruit. A little hot but so enjoyable. Long finish. (92 pts.)

2005 Vietti Barbera d'Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone - This bottle was almost like a Zinfandel in its spicy and woodsy notes but with the kick of a Barbera that kept your mouth watering. What more could I ask for in a pairing with Risotto? The nose was a candy shop of dark fruit turning to blueberries and with a super long mouth coating finish. (94 pts.)

If this article has really peaked you interest in this amazing winery, I strongly urge you to check out their website. Vietti is a family run business that can trace its roots back to the 19th century, Their website is an excellent resource for information on the family, it’s wines and even some great Piedmont recipes. Check it out here!

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