Monday, February 13, 2012

Roero: The Sleeping Giant

There’s been talk of a sleeping giant in Piedmont. The Roero has suddenly been brought into the public eye with wines made from familiar varietals of the region, namely Nebbiolo, Barbera and Arneis. Some say it’s global warming which has allowed these wines to shine. Others say it’s something of a renaissance and that the quality in the zone has gone up as growers become more informed and update their winemaking practices. I’m sure there’s truth in both opinions.

Image from Monchiero Carbone
What’s obvious is that the Roero is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Situated northwest from the Barbaresco and Barolo zones and divided from the Langhe by the Tanaro River, the Roero has similar elevations to the Langhe but a calcareous soil that has a higher content of sand. Many producers said these wines are more approachable, and in many cases, I agree. However, there are still masses of Nebbiolo character and tannin in these wines, and most of what I tasted should age beautifully. The aging requirements of Roero reds are 20 months with 6 months in barrel, whereas the riservas are required to age for 32 months before release, which is very close to the three years required for a Barolo. In fact, a number of producers had explained that they have taken to aging these wines with a similar wood treatment (one year) as is seen in Barbaresco.

Image from Giovanni Almondo 
The results are stunning, and many of the wines I tasted could have passed for Barbaresco, yet with a juicer and more vibrant youthfulness. When you consider this, and that most bottles cost less than their Barolo and Barbaresco counterparts, you’ll see that these are wines that are worth your attention. Lastly, I would be remiss to not mention the Arneis of Monchiero Carbone, which was so enjoyable that I had to include it here.

On to the wines:

2008 Monchiero Carbone Printi Roero Riserva – The nose showed floral potpourri and cinnamon in a very pretty, refined expression. On the palate, I found focused sour cherry fruit and herbs. The medium finish lent hints of tannins and this wine’s fine structure. This was a great example of the emerging Nebbiolo coming from Roero. (91 points) visit the Monchiero Carbone website!

2010 Monchiero Carbone CECU D’la Biunda Roero Arneis – The nose showed fresh cut flowers, honey suckle, a spritz of lime and almond. On the palate, it was rich yet balanced with focused white fruits and a mouthwatering quality that lasted into the finish with a hint of medicinal herbs. (90 points) visit the Monchiero Carbone website!

2007 Malvira Roero Renesio Riserva – The nose showed strawberry, herbs and woodland notes. On the palate, it was juicy and finessed with intense red fruits and woodsy, earthy notes. The fruit fell off quickly in the finish yet left flavors of spice and medicinal herbs. (89 points) visit the Malvira website!

2008 Giovanni Almondo Roero Bric Valdiana – The nose was big and rich, yet lovely, with red berries, spice cookie and apple butter. On the palate, I found lean red fruit against rugged structured Nebbiolo tannin. The finish followed suit, showing its structure and promising a long life ahead. (92 points) Visit the Giovanni Almondo Website!


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