2003 Nada Barbaresco “Rombone”

Hello friends. I’m a risk-averse entrepreneur. Odd but true.

I’m not the serial-entrepreneur type with another dozen business plans in my back pocket should Full Pull go the way of the wooly mammoths. I always figured if this venture imploded, I’d happily return to a more traditional office life.

This averseness to risk expresses itself in Full Pull’s wine buying, in that we rarely purchase a parcel until it’s already pre-sold.

Rarely, but not never.

Sometimes we’ll take a calculated gamble, if the wine and the deal are good enough. In this case, the wine was outstanding and the deal even better, so we purchased every last bottle available in Washington (and, I suspect, the United States).

If our list supports the gamble, great. And if not, our houseguests better get used to guzzling prime-drinking, decade-old Barbaresco.

On release, this was a $74 wine. Now, as a library release, ten years past vintage and right in its prime, we can massage the price below $50. That’s the “great deal” portion of the willingness-to-gamble equation.

Now, the “great wine” portion. Here is Galloni writing about Nada in a summer 2012 Wine Advocate issue: “Bruno Nada is one of the most underrated and overlooked growers in Piedmont. His are among the few wines that actually deliver on the vision so strongly advocated by the modern school in Piedmont, which is to say wines that drink well early and age.” Nada’s production is small to begin with (330 cases in the case of today’s wine), and only a fraction of that micro-production is exported to the US.

As much as I love Barbaresco (it’s in the running as my desert island wine), they can be frustrating wines to write about and offer because they’re so damned unapproachable in their youth. That’s why today’s wine, which combines a producer who emphasizes early drinking, a vintage whose warmth encourages early drinking, and a raid into the library stash, is so very appealing.

It’s a good strategy, when exploring wine categories, to focus first on warmer vintages, because they tend to push the fast forward button on the aging curve. While many Barbaresci hit their stride 15-25 years past vintage, warmer years like 2003 produce earlier peak-drinking windows. And that’s exactly what we have here.

No need to cellar endlessly. No need to decant for hours. This is glorious, expressive, drinkable Barbaresco from the moment the cork is popped. The aromatics are beginning to develop the tar-and-roses character so famous in this region, intermingling with more primary elements of spiced black cherry and blood orange, and a refreshing mentholated topnote. The palate has a core of rich cherry fruit from this generous vintage, but the bottle age shows itself in all the complementary complexities: loads of earth and dust, mushroom and leather. The acid spine and tannic heft (typically the main factors against drinking Barbaresci in their youth) are here integrating beautifully, contributing to a finely-wrought sense of balance.

This drinks right at early-to-mid peak for my palate. It’s certainly ready to go right now, but setting aside a few bottles to drink over the next five years would not be unwise. Please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. As I mentioned, the wine is already purchased, in the warehouse, and available for immediate pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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