2017 Cantina del Pino, Ovello, Barbaresco, $60
Winery Info: This estate in northwest Italy’s Barbaresco region has been producing wine for over 100 years.
In the 1920s Giuseppe Vacca bought the property from his friend Domizio Cavazza, legendary agronomist and director of Alba’s Royal Enological School from 1888 to 1913. For many years the Vacca family sold their fruit to Produttori del Barbaresco, the local cooperative, still considered one of the greatest wine co-ops in the world. Renato Vacca, Giuseppe’s great-grandson, worked at Produttori (his cousin Aldo is the current director) for five years after studying enology in Alba. But in 1997 he convinced his father to start their own label. Renato gained respect as one of the region’s most passionate and talented winemakers, known for his expressive, complex, deeply structured wines. Sadly, he passed away in 2020 at the age of 51, after a yearlong battle with cancer. The winery will carry on in capable hands, but this will be one the last few vintages of Ovello that he crafted himself.
Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo
Vineyards: Ovello, one of the most prized vineyard sites in Barbaresco, situated on a hill above the Tanara River at about 1000 feet elevation, with limestone and sandy soils.
Flavor Profile: The terroir of the Ovello site gives this wine its remarkable elegance and intensity and classic notes of wild strawberries and balsamic. The wine is smooth and textured, with hints of dried fruit and forest floor, firm yet well-integrated tannins, and fresh, balancing acidity.
Availability: There are only a few cases left of this wine.
Drinking Window: Enjoy now, with decanting, or up to around 2027.
Food Pairing: Piedmont is the home of white truffles, risotto and mushrooms, all great partners for this wine. Or you could pair it with beef, game, wild poultry, or stews made with, as the winery suggests, lamb, rabbit or wild boar.
2019 Avennia, La Perle, $39.75
Winery Info: Chris Peterson worked for years at DeLille Cellars before launching Avennia. His Woodinville-based winery began garnering much attention, locally and nationally, soon after its first release in 2012, and he quickly earned a reputation as one of the state’s rising stars. Chris aims to make wines that evoke clarity of place, of type, and of purpose and was named Seattle Magazine’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year. His limited production La Perle, inspired by the white wines of the Rhône region, “strives for the complexity and beauty that our carefully chosen vineyard blocks bring forth.”
Grapes: 72% Roussanne and 28% Marsanne. Fermented in 28% new French oak and 33% concrete and aged 14 months on the lees.
Vineyards: The Roussanne is sourced from Sagemoor and WeatherEye, the Marsanne from Boushey. WeatherEye is located high on Red Mountain with unique, complex soils, above the Missoula Flood zone. It is proving to be an especially suitable site for growing Rhône varietals.
Flavor Profile: Like the 2018 La Perle which we featured in 2020, this vintage is rich, elegant, and silky textured, with inviting aromas of orchard fruit and brioche, and complex flavors of pear and stone fruit. It is quite concentrated and full-bodied, balanced by great acidity and freshness.
Availability: 230 cases produced. This vintage should be available through the end of summer.
Drinking Window: It is delicious now, but could age for another three to five years.
Food Pairing: Try it with shrimp scampi or lemon roasted herbed chicken with root vegetables.