The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday

Posted on | December 28, 2010 | Written by Natasha Badillo | No Comments

On a day like this when the wind howls at my window and the snow piles up at my doorstep, I yearn for my favorite wintry drinks: Port, Amarone, even a hot toddy. To be perfectly honest, I would not normally choose a Barbera for drinking in December; if I were given a choice, I would probably decide on a heavier wine with more tannic structure, like a Bordeaux or Cote-Rotie. But this particular Barbera is Aldo Conterno’s 2007 Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile (Editor’s note: that link is to the 2006 because the ’07 is yet to be put on our website). This is Barbera from a Piemonte master. Today, even in the midst of the snowpocalypse, I am only too happy to be drinking Barbera

I became a loyal fan of Poderi Aldo Conterno when I first joined IWM back in 2007. My first taste of the 2000 Barolo Granbussia Riserva was certainly an unforgettable experience; however, at $250 a bottle, it is not an experience that I can regularly repeat. But the Conca Tre Pile at less than $40 falls solidly under the category of “affordable luxury” for many people. My first impression of this wine was that it was a bit closed. (Although to be fair, none of the glasses in my apartment allow for proper swirling!) The nose, while very pretty, was not really jumping out of the glass, so I set it aside for a while and got to work on making dinner. After all, what is a good wine without good food to complement it?

An hour later, I sat down with a steaming plate of my improvised version of bucatini all’amatriciana and returned to my wine glass. The nose was much more aromatic and pronounced now, showing lots of dark, almost prune-like fruit. In fact, the fruit showed a much darker character than I would have expected from a Barbera. On the palate, the wine expressed its typical vibrant acidity along with a slight earthy undertone, pairing well with the smoky and tangy tomato sauce and making my mouth water for another bite of pasta with every sip. On the finish, this Barbera was uncommonly tannic; this is mostly due to its aging in barrique for twelve months, but the tannins were undoubtedly magnified by the heat from the crushed chilies in my pasta sauce.

At the end of the meal, my plate was cleaned and my cup drained, and I’d had a wholly satisfying experience. The 2007 Conca Tre Pile, while not an overly complex or thought-provoking wine, is a welcome addition a simple meal–whatever the season.

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