2008 Curto Marco, LaFoia Barolo
Our good friends at Small Vineyards are indefatigable in their continuing search for wonderful wines from tiny estates in Italy, France, and Spain. For this month, they’ve come up with a powerful Barolo made by Nadia Curto, niece of the famous winemaker Elio Altare, who was also her mentor, along with her father Marco. The family estate consists of just four hectares in the heart of the Barolo villages, in the hilly Arborina region. They named the Barolo LaFoia, which means “leaf” in the local dialect, for the abundant shade trees in this area. Nadia tries to strike a balance between modern winemaking and the traditional style of Barolo: she ages the wine for an extra year in oak, but eschews fining or filtering. The results are just lovely. The wine is both elegant and approachable, lush, ripe and concentrated, with a perfect balance of acid, tannin, and dark cherry fruit, and marked by the traditional Barolo notes of truffles, earth, roses, and tar. It’s perfect for meat dishes, especially game, heavy pastas, and rich risottos, particularly if truffles are present. We’d give it another two or three years in the cellar to fully mature, but, as is typical of the wonderful 2008 Barolos, it could develop for another five years beyond that. The LaFoia is $67,25 and very limited, since it was a direct import by Small Vineyards.
2010 Edi Simčič, Chardonnay Riserva
And don’t forget Slovenia when you think of the countries represented by Small Vineyards! That’s not as unusual as it might seem, since Edi Simčič’s winery in Goriška Brda is just 500 yards from the Italian border. Edi is a third-generation winemaker, whose family had to sell all of their grapes to the state under the Communist regime from 1948 to 1989. Since the independence of Slovenia in 1992, Edi has been able to rebuild his family’s vineyards and has earned a reputation as one of Slovenia’s top winemakers. The cool northern winds that blow across the stony Goriška Brda plateau help to produce crisp white wines, and the combination of hot Adriatic summers and oak aging result in a lush, ripe, full-bodied wine. Over the last ten years, Edi has reduced the amount of oak used for this wine; the 2011 was in barrel only 11 months. Drinking beautifully now, It was a big hit at the post-Thanksgiving tasting. Small Vineyards suggests pairing it with roast chicken with fresh herbs, fresh Kumamoto oysters, or Gruyere cheese. It is only $29.75, and in good supply.