Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Coming of Age: Pecchenino Barolo

So you’ve become one of the top producers of Dolcetto in your region. Your winery produces some of the best juice coming out of Dogliani, Piedmont. Your base-level wine outperforms most wines in its price point, and your top wines are some of the best and most age-worthy in the region. So what do you do next? You make Barolo, of course.

Now we’re not talking about just any Barolo either. With the 2004 vintage, Pecchenino Barolo Le Coste hit the market with rave reviews; a wine which wasn't made by the son of a legendary Baroloista. Instead, it was made by Orlando Pecchenino, who has three generations of family experience working in the vineyards of Dogliani. Speaking with Orlando helps to put this puzzle together. He’s a passionate man, bent on perfection, whether that perfection comes from the hand of man or by abstaining and allowing the grape to express itself in neutral barrels. He’s open to experimentation and the opinions of others, but in the end, what goes into the bottle is all that matters, and the quality of Pecchenino Barolo cannot be denied.

Currently in the Pecchenino portfolio are two Barolo, with a third on the way. The San Giuseppe is a ripe and juicy effort, which comes across as elegant and accessible with sweet tannins. Yet, even with its plush character, this wine has the stuffing to age. It’s enjoyable on so many levels and I highly recommend it as an introduction to the house style. However, for me, it’s the single vineyard Barolo Le Coste (a little known vineyard in the southern reachs of Monforte d’Alba) which will find it’s way into my cellar. The Le Coste is immaculately balanced, fruit forward and has enough structural backbone to age beautifully. It’s a rich wine, yet it seems to hover on the palate with radiant dark Nebbiolo fruit, while tempting the senses with violet floral tones and spice. The fact that these wines are aged in neutral casks just goes to show the quality of the fruit and the perfect ripeness it achieves. 2004 was only the beginning, as Le Coste continues to improve with each passing vintage.

Pecchenino is a producer to watch; I can assure you, they are firnly on my radar--and also keep your eyes open for a Barolo Bussia in 2012. Below, you’ll find tasting notes from the ‘08, ’09 and highly-anticipated 2010 vintage. It was an eye-opening experience to taste these vintages side by side. They are all wonderful, but the 2008 Le Coste stole my heart. Enjoy.

On to the Wines:

2010 Pecchenino Barolo San Giuseppe – The nose showed rich dark cherry, a hint of herbs and spice with balsamic tones in a rich, yet fresh and elegant expression. On the palate, it was velvety smooth with ripe fruits, yet perfectly balanced by juicy acidity and hints of tannic heft providing backbone. The finish was long with sour cherry, lingering tannin and balsamic tones. A beautiful wine. (93 points)

Producer website: Pecchenino
Avg. price $49
Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

2009 Pecchenino Barolo San Giuseppe – The nose was tense, seeming to be holding back it’s true power. It showed young red berries, hints of stem and herbs. On the palate, it was weighty with silky textures, tart berry fruit, and hints of citrus peel, turning more angular and dense toward the close. A firm tannic bite took control through the finish. With time, this should balance out more and could one day deserve a higher score. (90 points)

Producer website: Pecchenino
Avg. price $60
Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

2010 Pecchenino Barolo Le Coste – The nose showed black cherry with sour floral tones, undergrowth, hints of grapefruit and a menthol lift. On the palate, it was feminine, with red fruits contrasted by fine tannin in a juicy and seemingly weightless expression. Staying red berries lingered on the finish, turning dry as the wine’s structure bore down on the palate. This is a serious Barolo in need of time in the cellar, yet it should emerge as a beauty. (94 points)

Producer website: Pecchenino
Avg. price $63
Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

2009 Pecchenino Barolo Le Coste – The nose was dark and powerful with ripe red fruits, sweet florals, spice and a mentholated freshness. On the palate, a grounding note of bitter, medicinal herb and spice, which provided a beautiful contrast of textures, came together with ripe raspberry and cherry. The finish was long with earthy dark fruits which seemed to saturate the senses. The 2009 Pecchenino showed wonderful balance in its dark and brooding nature, a true standout in the vintage. (93 points)

Producer website: Pecchenino
Avg. price $65
Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

2008 Pecchenino Barolo Le Coste – The nose was classic and wonderfully expressive with intense red berry, spicy floral tones, mineral laden soil and undergrowth. On the palate, it was rich with a bitter twang, showing dark red fruits, spice and inner floral tones. The finish was elegantly balanced with ripe red berry fruit and balsamic notes contrasted by fine tannins. (94+ points)

Producer website: Pecchenino
Avg. price N/A
Find it on: Wine-Searcher!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Eric. I love learning about these under the radar producers. This one sounds well worth looking into.