Two from Tintero

Hello friends. Those of you who pay attention to our normal offer schedule will know that it’s unusual for us to send out a Thursday offer. We’re normally too busy on our TPU days forcing our poor list members to guess unguessable blind wines.

But this wine just hit Seattle, and it’s the new vintage of a wine that was a huge hit for our members last year. We sold out of our whole stash of the 08 on the day we offered it last May, and we’ve been zeroing out reorder requests ever since.

The elevator pitch today is the same as it was last year: Barbaresco at a Langhe Nebbiolo tariff.

[Note: we’ll also include a Piedmont white from the same producer at the bottom of this offer.]

2009 Tintero Barbaresco

Barbaresco and Barolo are among the world’s most beautiful wines, and the top versions from the best vineyards command sky-high prices. It’s one of those categories that can be tough to get into, because honestly, who wants to do experiments with $50 bottles?

But experiments in the $20s; those seem more palatable.

Tintero is a lovely producer, one of Kermit Lynch’s best import finds. The winery was founded when Pierre Tintero, a Frenchmen, moved to Piedmont in the early 1900s and married the widow Rosina Cortese, owner of a small estate near Mango (location here). Whether Tintero married under the aegis of Cupid or Bacchus is lost to the sands of time. Regardless, the estate with his name has lived on, and it’s now run by the third (Elvio) and fourth (Marco and Cinzi) generations.

When we were first exposed to this project last year, we reached out to the folks at Lynch to try to understand how this wine could be so good for so little. Here was the response, from the supremely-knowledgeable Lyle Railsback: “Glad you got some and wish we had more to sell Seattle. Marco Tintero recently acquired this parcel in Barbaresco and had only 200 cases for us. The wine was so delicious and so cheap that we begged him for more. I visited his estate last year, he’s in the town of Mango on the ‘route de Moscato’. They’ve been farming organically since the 1940’s and make really typical, unmanipulated Piedmontese wines.”

Lynch has brought in terrific Moscatos and Langhe Rossos from Tintero for years, but this is only the second vintage where the Barbaresco has been imported. When I taste Barbaresco at this tariff (rare), I keep my expectations moderated (read: low). But this year, like last year, those expectations were vastly exceeded.

From a vineyard planted out in 1980 and 1990 on limestone and blue marl soils, this begins with the classic tar-and-roses of Barbaresco, complemented by black cherry and leafy/earthy notes. What’s impressive for Barbaresco at this tariff is the textural management. Barbs in the $20s can frequently be, ahem, rustic (in other words, tannic enough that they should come with a toothbrush). This, on the other hand, is classy, polished. The tannins are present, as they should be, but never too harsh or out of balance. It’s an elegant mouthful of fruit, earth, and structure (not only tannins, but lovely citrus-pith acids as well), and it lingers on and on and on. One of Kermit Lynch’s finest value imports of the past few years.

I believe max allocations last year were 5 bottles (maybe 6?), but we’re getting in really early this year, so I’m feeling optimistic. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2011 Tintero Langhe Arneis

And a little bonus for my favorite group of squeaky wheels on the list: The Committee for the Encouragement of More White Wines. Arneis always makes me laugh, because the Piemontese translation is something like “little pain-in-the-ass.” Growers despise the grape, because it yields low, tends to low-acid flab, and tends to over-ripeness. Fun! So why grow it at all? Because winemakers know that when it’s done well, it can be really lovely.

From 10-year-old vines, this was done all in stainless, and provides a scented noseful of honeysuckle, mint, peach, and mineral. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, all mint-tinged mountain fruit and mineral. There’s a quinine note here that was evocative of a good G&T for me. Just a lovely little curiosity, a fine white for summer-into-autumn.

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