Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1996 E Pira-Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi

1996 E Pira-Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi

At the store I am often asked what is my favorite wine. I usually avoid the question with the explanation that it depends on the food I am eating, the time of year, etc. When I look back at wines I buy and order in restaurants a pattern does emerge and Barolo is up on the list. This 1996 was no let down to my fondness for the wines.

Some Definitions:

E Pira-Chiara Boschis - The Producer
Barolo - A region of Piedmont in the north of Italy
Cannubi - A vineyard in Barolo, portions of which are owned and sourced by multiple wineries, so you will see more than one Barolo Cannubi.
Nebbiolo - The grape used in Barolo

Barolo is considered by many to be the king of Italian wines, but it is not a monstrous brute, rather an elegant complex expression of Nebbiolo. The E. Pira nose sprang from the glass with bright raspberry, violet and a back note of earthiness. The wine showed a bright garnet color with a lacquered top. Layers of dark cherry, raspberry, leather and tobacco straight through the long finish. Cellar note: A wine drinking well, but still youthful with easily 10-15 years left.

First course was a Ravioli of duck and Ricotta in a Porcini cream sauce. The acidity of the wine cut through the cream of the sauce and cheese nicely, leaving the mushroom to mingle with the earthiness and tobacco notes of the Barolo.

Second course was a braised lamb shank with creamy polenta in a sweet pepper and mushroom ragu. The powerful flavors of the dish met the complexity of the Nebbiolo. Some of the higher tone fruit in the wine melted into the background while darker fruit flavors of current and raisin showed up. The wine washed away the acidity of the ragu showing off the savory notes of the lamb. A perfect example of a wine with a moderate 13.5% alcohol (lower than a Cab or Shiraz) taking on a big dish and complementing it beautifully to the benefit of both the food and the wine.