Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vietti - Arneis and Barbera

I admit to being very particular about Italian wines. A quick peek at my posts clearly shows a lack of raves. It's not that I don't like the wines, I just like others more. Too often I taste and realize for the same price, or less, wines I enjoy more are readily available.

The region of Piedmont is a notable exception. I love the wines. But they do not come cheap. Many of the affordable options lack depth, intensity and balance leading me back to my earlier statement. Vietti represents top-notch quality while charging a reasonable price.

Vietti Roero Arneis 2009 - The wine has happily danced across my palate before, but has never riveted me so intently as this vintage did recently. Maybe there's a kinship since Vietti first made it in my birth year, 1967. Maybe I silently pine to be the age of the vines again, 25. Whatever the subtext, this wine should be part of your spring and summer fun. Aged on its lees for three months in stainless steel, there is no malolactic fermentation. The juicy entry offers crisp melon and hints of stone fruit. It nearly explodes on the palate and the flavors continue on the finish. I kept shaking my head and muttering, "Lovely, lovely...lovely." Where the hell were the shrimp? Fantastic, somewhat surprising weight and while it's a bit more expensive than I might want in a perfect world, it is THE BEST ARNEIS I have ever tasted. Yes, I mean that. I think I could eat my weight in prosciutto wrapped melon or grilled fish (white, flaky) with a mango salsa. Salty snacks will work wonders as well. $19-$22. (Imported by Dalla Terra)

Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 2008 - Consistently one of my favorite Barberas, this comes from three vineyards, hence the name. This was the best wine of a busy day of tasting. Floral notes and strawberry dominate the nose, as one expects from Barbera, especially from d'Asti (d'Alba tends to be darker and deeper). Those descriptors don't do the wine justice though and before I hear the MEN(!) reading this flip somewhere else, I will say that the wine is more manly than they imply. The freshness does not step all over a more base note below, some earth tone lingers beneath growing in volume on the palate and finding impeccable balance with the fruit on the finish. I do not use the word impeccable lightly, it is rare to find a wine that speaks so eloquently from both ends of the flavor spectrum. It is pretty but solid at the same time. It is dry and very Italian but still offers enough fruit that drinking it on its own doesn't hurt. I want grilled tuna with olives or pork and mushrooms or a large hunk of an aged cow or goat milk cheese. It makes me want a bottle to myself and prompts me to consider telling everyone how good it is. I recommend opening the wine and pouring half glasses to let it breathe; then settle in and enjoy the journey. $18-$20 (Imported by Dalla Terra)

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