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If ever there were a poster child for the muscular, deep down Barolo wines of Castiglione Falletto, it would be the 2001 Cavallotto Bricco Boschis. Deeply robed and packed with flavor, this majestic Barolo offers up layer upon layer of black cherry fruit, menthol, spice, and tar, all of which flow seamlessly from the aroma into the wine's palate profile. And in the mouth, one can feel the power and weight of the glorious 2001 vintage as the wine fills the senses and consumes the palate, yet, this wine embodies a fleshy tenderness, too, that promises even more hedonistic pleasure to those who can wait. Given the lush luxurious fruit, firm ripe tannins, and long lingering finish of the 2001 Cavallotto Bricco Boschis, there is little doubt that what we experience today is only the beginning to a long, illustrious life. As with all authentic Barolo, the 2001 Cavallotto Bricco Boschis just begs for aeration. Consequently, we suggest at least a two hour hiatus in decanter before consuming. Better still, open the wine in the morning and let it air until dinner for optimal enjoyment. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2020.
The complex, nuance of flavors that define the 2001 Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Barolo and all fine Barolo wines for that matter, plead for foods of equal stature. Rarely does one sit around sipping Barolo, but consumed at table with traditional Piedmontese cooking and savory sauces, one comes to easily appreciate the royal nature of this wine. Risottos, made with authentic Arbio rice, constitute many of our favorite choices with this Barolo. A whole chicken, mushroom, and truffle risotto, cooked very slowly and dashed with a first rate balsamic vinegar from Modena makes for a heavenly match. Less regional dishes do well, too. Roast loin of pork, stuffed with a bread, onion, and herb farce provides a savory treat. Marinated steaks and pork tenderloins offer tasty uncomplicated alternatives, too. In addition, Cavallotto's Barolo offers one of the finest accompaniments to hard cheeses. Hunks of authentic Italian Parmesan or Provolone cheese pose no threat to this wine and offer a great way to finish a meal fit for a king.
Alfio Cavallotto is one of the new bright stars to emerge in Barolo. However, Cavallotto is neither new to the scene nor are his wines indicative of the light, modern style of Barolo. Cavallotto is a real traditionalist, and his wines make few concessions to the contemporary penchant for technology over technique. Rather, it is this house's penchant for making authentic, muscular, cask aged Barolos that reflect the great terroir of Castiglione Falletto that have caused Alfio Cavallotto's star to rise. The Cavallotto estate uses only indigenous yeasts and long macerations to extract the fullest representation from each vineyard and wine it produces, and the results are sublime – age worthy Barolos that are both structured and decadent. Cavallotto's most compelling offerings emanate from his premier 10 acre vineyard known as Bricco Boschis. Production from this single vineyard cru is predictably small, rarely more than 2,100 cases.
Barolo: The King of Wines, and the Wine of Kings
Barolo has affectionately and appropriately been referred to as the "king of wines, and the wine of kings." In a fine vintage such as 2001and in the hands of a great winemaker like Alfio Cavallotto Barolo is unquestionably Italy's most profound red wine, richly deserving of the many accolades that have been bestowed upon it.
Barolo is born on the Langhe Hills of Italy's Piedmont, on steep craggy Alpine foothills that tumble out of nearby France and Switzerland. Barolo is the most masculine of Piedmont's three great Nebbiolo based wines and the focal point in the region's viticultural tiara. Gattinara and Barbaresco are the other two crown jewels. Although Gattinara, typically the lightest and most feminine of Piedmont's great reds, and Barbaresco, sometimes referred to as a baby Barolo for its propensity for being lighter and easier to drink in its youth than its more stalwart neighbor, share the same noble Nebbiolo vine as Barolo, it is Barolo that possesses the pedigree to rule the viticultural roost. Barolo's lineage dates back to the Middle Ages and by the mid 18th century Barolo had begun to evolve into its present form in the vicinity of Alba, a distinct Old World city that serves as the white truffle capital of Italy as well as Piedmont's premier wine town.
Today, the limited production of Barolo generates from the huddled hills of two valleys, Serralunga and Barolo, and their five principal communities, all of which lie to the southwest of the city of Alba and are reputed to impart distinctive characteristics and traits to their respective progeny. The townships of Serralunga, Castiglione Falletto, and Monforte are situated in the Serralunga Valley and are reputed to produce the region's most masculine, longest-lived Barolos. Meanwhile, Barolo and La Morra, from which the more "delicate" wines of the zone are said to flow, are part of the Barolo Valley. However, there are many exceptions and innumerable variations in Barolo on the same theme, and this does not even take into account the decades old debate in Barolo over the relative merits of the modern versus traditional styles of Barolo, which have as much to do with individual winemaking techniques as they do the amount and kind of barrel aging the wines receive. Happily, in the end, there is great Barolo fashioned in all five of the major townships, in both modern and traditional styles.
All of a sudden Bierzo is Spain's hottest wine region, and Dominio de Tares is its brightest star. Bierzo is situated in the extreme northwest of Castilla in the province of Leon, which lies on the frontier of Galicia and nearby Portugal. In other words, El Bierzo is deep in the middle of nowhere, but in the case of Bierzo "nowhere" harbors one of Europe's most interesting grape varietals and its land comprises one of the finest terroir for grapes in all Europe. This isolated, wildly beautiful region sits on the bed of an ancient lake, which the Romans drained in their quest for the area's mineral resources – namely gold. Today the Bierzo produces liquid gold in the form Mencia, an indigenous red gape variety that is presently taking Spain and the rest of the wine drinking world by storm.
The Mencia varietal is considered by enologists to be the direct ancestor and precursor of modern Cabernet Franc. This vine hails from the plantings of the earliest Roman settlers in Bierzo, who planted this variety two thousand years ago in what remains one of Europe's most isolated wine regions. Certainly, it is the very isolation of the Bierzo that has allowed Mencia to survive and even thrive. Moreover, the average age of the vines in the Bierzo is quite old, which lends itself to the production of high quality wines. Many of Dominio de Tares' Mencia vines from the tiny plot known as Pago 3 are 120 years old.
The wonderfully fruity, spicy, and wholly intriguing Mencia grape has only recently been discovered or rather re-discovered by modern legions of wine drinkers. They are undoubtedly charmed and intrigued by this unique viticultural entity called Mencia, whose attributes are consummate with both modern Merlot and Cabernet but with a softer, lusher, more exotic tone that bears comparison to the greatest Cabernet Franc from St.Emilion and Pomerol in Bordeaux. It is Mencia's re-birth and the contemporary emphasis on quality versus quantity in Bierzo that led to the formation of Dominio de Tares.
Tasting Notes: The 2003 Dominio de Tares Tares Pago 3 is the paragon example of the ancient and venerable Menica grape variety and the finest wine in all Bierzo. From octogenarian vines Dominio de Tares fashions a stunning red that is every bit a match for the very best wines of St.Emilion and Pomerol. Deep, plush, and velvety, the full bodied Tares Pago 3 offers up copious quantities of black cherry fruit and smooth spicy oak. In addition, there is plenty of structure and underpinning to gird the voluptuous fruit and complex center of this gorgeous wine. Moreover, this wine's superb balance bodes well for both near term consumption and extensive ageing. The wine is long and lush to the finish, and it continues to open in the glass for hours. The 2003 Dominio de Tares Tares Pago 3 is one of the finest examples of the present Spanish viticutural renaissance and the preeminence of Spanish wines. The 2003 Dominio de Tares Tares Pago 3 is a veritable masterpiece. Allow it plenty of time to breathe and enjoy it. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2014.
Accompaniments: There is not a lot that the 2003 Dominio de Tares Tares Pago 3 needs to shine, except a clean, thin, well-made glass. This wine drinks beautifully on its own, but it is even more impressive when brought to table to accompany the delights of the kitchen. Lamb, beef, and pork all get our nod to accompany this magnificent red. An oak fired Angus Filet Mignon, served with a black peppercorn and onion sauce, provides wonderful companionship to this wine. A slow roasted Pork Shank with caramelized rosemary apples and polenta offers another great accompaniment. For a simple but no less wonderful accompaniment, we suggest Tetilla cheese. Tetilla is perhaps Spain's finest cheese. It is creamy, rich, and downright sumptuous – the perfect accompaniment to a great wine.
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