Here is another post from my buddy Ted Slack, who has been attending quite a few tastings with me in New York City this year….
After attending the Vins de Provence wine tasting in February (my first media event) with Jeff, the Drunken Cyclist, we have since travelled up the I-95 corridor for several other tastings of perhaps lesser known regions like Corsica, the Jura region of France, and the Roero in the Piedmont region of Italy. While I was tacitly familiar with Corsica and the Jura, I had never heard of Roero before much less tasted any of the region’s wines. I was excited for the tasting, though, since my wife and I are big fans of the Piedmont’s more famous appellations of Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera.
Before the tasting, I saw Italy primarily as a source of great red wines, and did not think much of the country’s white wines, but Roero caused me to re-evaluate that position. The Roero wines are typically made using Arneis (ahr NASE) grapes for whites, and are quite light/refreshing, while Nebbiolo is used for reds that are typically grown on very steep hillside slopes. Arneis has an interesting history in Roero, originally used to distract birds in the vineyards away from eating other grapes that were the primary focus of wine production.
Today, Arneis dominates the region, with production around 500,000 cases a year. Nebbiolo is still an important part of the Roero story, but the production of Rosso is a small fraction of the Bianco (about 40,000 cases a year).
The tasting included 11 wines including sparkling, whites, reds, and some older vintages to demonstrate the ability of these wines to hold up well over time. This was the before lunch tasting line up, with comments below from a sampling of the list.
Here are a few of the wines that stood out during the seminar:
2015 Marco Porello Roero Arneis ‘Camestri’: Retail $15. I was impressed with this first Arneis grape white wine and was a little surprised that it had a very slight taste of salt on the palate due to the minerals from the sandy clay like texture of the soil where it is grown, so was off to a very good start. The bouquet was pleasant along with the very refreshing taste so could imagine enjoying this on a hot summer day before dinner! Very Good. 89-91 Points.
2015 Monchiero Carbone Roero Arneis ‘Cecu’: Retail $24. This wine had an extremely smooth start along with a delightful and refreshing finish. I think this wine would stand up a little better with food than the first wine, maybe a summer dish prepared with either fish, chicken or even pork. The bouquet was very pleasant, and would not overwhelm any food pairing that you select. Very Good. 90-92 Points
2011 Cornarea Roero Arneis ‘Enritard’: Retail $29. This wine had the most elegant initial taste on the palate and did not even have a hint of some of the sour taste I experienced with the first two wines. The finish was outstanding, and even though it was not a single vineyard produced wine (as many the others we tasted had been), it was from a region that also showcased many ‘best of award’ wines from the terroir of this region. This bouquet was very impressive and fresh with this wine and had much more complexity than many of the other white wines we tasted that day. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2012 Careglio Roero: Retail $18. Nebbiolo. Many of us at our table were pleasantly surprised with this 3,000 bottle limited production red wine. This bouquet was complex and it had a full-bodied taste that was very dry on the palate. This wine would stand up very well with a beef or a heavier pork entrée, and will undoubtedly age well for up to 10 years or so. Very good. 90-92 Points.
2011 Pace Roero Riserva: Retail $12. Nebbiolo. This wine was a little surprising since it had a few more years of age than the previous red, but was a bit more fruit on the palate despite the additional years in the bottle. This bouquet was firm but also a bit fruitier so it is a wine you could drink with or without food, and is unlike other red wines I had tasted in the past from the Piedmont region. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
This was a very interesting event to not only learn about new wines that I had never tasted before, but to also gain a new appreciation for excellent wines from lesser known regions of the world. As mentioned before, Jeff and I had also attended similar events to taste wines from Corsica, and the Jura region of France that were excellent so I think they are worthy of finding room in the cellar for wines from these 3 regions.
Afterwards, during the walk-around tasting, we were able to taste from many more Roero wineries and I never noticed before so many wine makers with signs at their booth that they were “Seeking Representation,” which hopefully means they will be successful at finding an importer to bring additional variety and value to the US wine marketplace.
I was a little out of my element at this event, since I have very limited knowledge of and experience drinking white wines from Italy but I certainly came away impressed. Even though the region isn’t as familiar to Americans, they all have a great deal of potential and offer excellent value to wine drinkers here as well as other parts of the world.