Sun 9 May 2010
At the Barbera 2010 conference in March, in Piedmont, I tasted two barbera wines from — to render the complete name — Tenuta Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy. The Barbera 2007 and Barbera “Monte Colombo” 2006 from Marchesi di Gresy I found to be smooth, harmonious and well-balanced wines and not in the least afflicted with the searing acidity, scorching tannins and piled-on oak that marred many of the other wines we tried at the four-day event. The first ages six months in a combination of two- and three-year old French barriques and Slavonian oak casks; the second ages 12 months in barriques, but reveals its wood in a sensibly soft and subtle manner.
Two days ago, at a trade tasting in Memphis, I tried three different wines from the estate and also met Alberto Cisa Asinari di Gresy, as charming and unassuming a personage as one could wish to meet or desire to emulate. The historic property. Monte Aribaldo (24.86 acres for dolcetto, chardonnay, sauvignon blamc), surrounds a 19th Century hunting lodge built by Alberto di Gresy’s grandfather in the commune of Treiso d’Alba. Alberto di Gresy, born in 1952, took over the operation of the property right out of university and began producing wine, instead of selling grapes to other producers, in 1973. Another vineyard nearby, Martinenga (59.28 acres, mainly nebbiolo), has been in the family since 1797; this is the location of the central winery. A third vineyard, La Serra consists of 27.21 acres of moscato, barbera and merlot, while the 6.38-acre Monte Colombo is for barbera and merlot.
The wines of Marchesi di Gresy are imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Ca.
Made all in stainless steel, the Marchesi di Gresy Dolcetto d’Alba 2008 is as pretty a wine as you could ask for in a red that also provides deeper notes of tobacco and leather, black and red cherries, bountiful spice and a whiff of violets, all wrapped in a slight haze of shale-like minerality. True to its name, this is a sweetheart of a wine, almost translucent in its tone and balance, that’s perfectly suited for summer drinking with lighter fare such as fresh tomato pasta or vitello tonnato. Very Good+. About $20 to $22.
Just under an acre of the Martinenga estate is devoted to nebbiolo grapes bottled under the Langhe D.O.C. Also made in stainless steel, the Marchesi di Gresy Nebbiolo Langhe 2008 displays the grape in simple purity and intensity. The color is mild medium ruby with a slightly ruddy interior; tobacco leaf, lilac and lavender, macerated cherries and plums distinguish the bouquet. The wine is quite spicy and fleshy, with notes of roasted red and black currants bolstered by lively acidity and a footprint of dusty tannins that dissolves into a touch of graphite and tar. This feels like a distinctly Mediterranean wine, with the unusual scent of damp roof tiles and dried herbs that one occasionally encounters. Mainly, though, the wine is a tissue of delicacies wound into a fabric of ineffable grace and balance. Drink now through 2013 or ’14. Very Good+. About $18 to $22.
No heavily extracted Barbaresco here, the Marchesi Barbaresco Martinenga 2006 is a medium ruby-rust color that fades to light garnet at the rim. The perfume is incredible: sassafras and cloves, spiced and macerated red and black currants and plums, a dusting of shale, violets and lilacs. The entire effect is seamless with a structure of impeccable poise and a sense of delicacy married to innate and almost invisible power; it would be impossible to say, “Here is tannin” or “Here is acidity” or “Here is fruit,” because of the complete permeation of balanced elements. This ages six months in French barriques and then 14 months in large Slavonian oak casks, but you would hardly know it except for a sense of supple and sinewy shapeliness that the wood confers. To flavors of macerated and roasted cherries and plums, add a touch of tar, a hint of balsam, a suggestion of cedar. Pure elegance and confidence. This drinks beautifully now but should mature equally beautifully through 2018 or ’20. Excellent. About $45 to $55.