Italian Beauties

At the end of each month I find I’ve sampled an assortment of wines that are exciting but aren’t necessarily current releases.

Most of what I taste week to week is current-release wine, but one cannot live on raw young wine alone, so there are plenty of older and rarer wines that cross my palate. Naturally, I post these reviews.

This month I’ve uploaded a few rippers. The trio of Gaja super-Piedmonteses from Barbaresco, for example – the Costa Russi (tasting), Sori Tildin (tasting) and Sori San Lorenzo (tasting) 2006 vintage, are all monumental wines, great reds that live up to their lofty reputations, and so they ought at $775 a bottle (each).

It’s not often I get up to 98 points but I did with one of these beauties.

The occasion was Negociants Australia’s trade education program, Working With Wine. This is an extraordinarily generous enterprise by Negociants owner Robert Hill Smith, which sees principals from Negs’ imported agencies opening their best bottles and sitting on expert panels to educate wine trade members (mostly retailers, restaurateurs and sommeliers) about the great wines of the world. On this particular panel, devoted to one of my favourite varietals, nebbiolo, they had Franco Conterno, son of the late Aldo, of that great Barolo estate Poderi Aldo Conterno.

Franco – dubbed the Robert De Niro of Piedmont by one of the other panelists – served up a mini-vertical of Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia Colonello (2005, 6, 7, 8 and 9) (tastings) followed by a triplet of 2009 Bussias: Colonello (tasting), Cicala (tasting) and Romirasco (tasting). Superb wines, especially the statuesque Romirasco. The Gajas were the icing on the cake.

Working With Wine – what a great gesture of leadership by Rob Hill Smith and Negociants.

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