2001 Martin & Weyrich Nebbiolo “Il Vecchio” Reserve

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

nothing here for you other than the tasting notes for the 2002, this ’01 appears to be non-existent or disowned by the winery…

What I Think:

You are probably saying the same thing that I was, a Nebbiolo at Trader Joe’s? From California? For $7? Aren’t those supposed to be from Italy and cost a fortune? What in the world? Aw heck! I might as well give it a try. If for nothing else for novelties sake. That is a glance at what went on in my head for about 10 seconds before this bottle ended up in my cart. Some initial research showed that the winery was selling the 2000 on their site for $15 and the 2002 for $22 (but $99 a case) so my guess was that they were having a hard time moving these wines. A few days later a York Mountain Viognier showed up as well as a Matador Rose from this same winery so guessing that was the case.

Now onto the main event! This is a nice effort and enjoyable for its uniqueness above all else. That said I would guess this is strikingly new world in style. Given my lack of experience with Nebbiolo I don’t have much to base that on other than that I was expecting a more complex, tannic offering rather than a straight forward drinker that went down without even tickling the throat. I found an interesting post comparing drinking the ’03 vintage of this one side by side with an Italian version here. Sadly this has disappeared since I grabbed this bottle as I would surely do so again. It would be fun to give to my friend who enjoys high-priced Nebbiolo as a blind gift to see what he thinks. Alas, doesn’t look like that is going to happen as this already appears to be gone.  Should it reappear I surely would give it a spot it in my Top 10 list. If you see this first grab a bottle for yourself, then let me know!

Rating: Buy It

1997 “Che Storia” Barbaresco Riserva

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

I’ve spent more time searching for a write-up on this than anything else on the site…With that time I turned up nothing. Not that it matters, even if I love this wine none of us will ever find it again.

What I Think:

As mentioned above this one took some investigating to track down. There were lots of random markings on the bottle. It was imported by Santini but they had no information available this far back. Eventually I was able to track down, or at least I think, that it was bottled by Casa Vinicola Bosco Malera. This is only the second bottle I have had from Santini but when pulling the cork and seeing their name upon I recalled the other had the same. I wonder to what level their involvement goes. It appears as if they are custom making these wines for export.

Moving on, this bottle had been in my basement for quite some time. It may even have been the eldest member of the closet. On this Sunday I started making my Bonarda based pasta sauce at about three in the afternoon. Expecting good things I wanted to open a nice bottle of Italian wine. I have two that are in the $50 plus category around and outside of those two this was the best available. My frustration with my ability to truly enjoy Italian wines has been covered often here, given that the pickings were thin. I bought this long ago @ TJ’s which has carried it throughout the vintages (think they have the ’03 now). Given that the ’97 vintage from Piedmont was near perfect my hopes were running high!

Now to the tasting, after the first swirl and sip I found myself thinking could this be the one? Pulling the cork out I found it wet about half the way up, thought that may be of note. Hey it’s not often I open bottles of wine that are ten years old. On pouring into the decanter it may a good impression. Nice nose, interesting ruby/brown color. In the glass the nose seemed complex. It smells like, what I believe, an Italian red wine should. There are plum and cherries commingling but brooding with a hint of mint and loads of spices toward the end. On the palate the flavor profile reflects the aromas before a nice, complex, thick textured finish leaves tannins tingling in the mouth. As I was enjoying I began to wonder if my lackluster history with Italian wine make this seem better than it is. As it sat in the glass it seemed to be getting lighter in color (more brown) by the minute.

Either way, you are never quite sure what it is but the mystery is intriguing as it keeps you constantly guessing but you can never quite figure it out. This alone made it worth the experience. At $12 it is a little to expensive for a 12th bottle so we will upgrade to a rating of “Pricey” I have a bottle of the same wine from 2001. I’ll open that soon to see what a difference ten years in the bottle makes. If given the opportunity to buy the ’97 now I would do so again, as I don’t we will wait for the ’01 results before passing a verdict on these offerings.

Rating: Pricey