Mon 15 Mar 2010
As readers of this blog and of the collective “Barbera Meeting 2010” blog know, we seven blogging writers were deeply dissatisfied with the oaky arrogance and heavily extracted self-importance of many of the Barbera wines that we tasted over four days last week.
Let us not, however, be completely negative. We were exposed to many splendid wines, primarily in the pre-dinner walk-around tastings and in the winery visits we made when not strapped to our chairs in the tasting hall at the handsome mid-14th Century Palazzo Zoya in Asti.
Our leader, Jeremy Parzen, finagled a visit for us to Brovia, a producer founded in 1863 in the town of Castiglione Falletto in the Langhe region. The winery is operated by the fourth generation, sisters Elena and Cristina Brovia and Elena’s husband Àlex Sánchez, a Spaniard who moved to Piedmont in 2001. Sánchez gave us a tour of the winery and selected the wines for us to taste.
Half of Brovia’s 5,000-case production is Barolo, and we’ll talk about those wines another time. What I particularly want to mention today, because of our disappointment with so many other Barbera wines last week, is Brovia’s Sori’ del Drago 2007, Barbera d’Alba.
Made all in stainless steel, from vineyards planted in 1970 and 1993, Sori’ del Drago 2007 offers a bouquet teeming with smoke and tobacco, bacon fat and spice and roasted and macerated black fruit with a tinge of mulberry. About halfway through my notes I wrote, “wow, this knocks everything else out of the water.” All aspects of this wine feel inevitable, its pinpoint balance among acidity, fruit and structure; its vibrancy and resonance; its almost unearthly purity and intensity; its soft, grainy chewy tannins and crushed-gravel minerality. I said to the assembled bloggers: “I could drink this every day,” and I wasn’t kidding. No, this is not an “important” wine, but it superbly fulfills Sanchez’s requirement for “identity and pleasingness.”
Brovia also makes a Barbera d’Alba 2007 called Brea, which ages half in stainless steel and half in one-, two- and three-year-old French barriques. I found the wine rich, almost jammy, obvious and uncharacteristic. As an expression of the barbera grape, Sori’ del Drago beats Brea by a mile.
The wines of Brovia are imported to the U.S. by Neal Rosenthal. Prices for Sori’ del Drago 2007 range from about $20 to $28.