TN Ian's Under the Radar Piedmont @ Terra Rossa on 4 Oct 2022

A dinner booked in the early summer finally happened last night at where else but Terra Rossa in Upper Street Islington. There are few more authentic places to host an Italian themed offline and as usual the cooking and service were both on point and absolutely appropriate for the vinous onslaught, that looked more daunting on paper than perhaps it really was.

My favourite wines of the night were the two 2018s in my below notes and with the exception of a corked Barbaresco (which I didn't make a note on) the evening was a resounding success. My impressions are below and I think Simon and others may have pics to share...

IAN'S "UNDER THE RADAR PIEDMONT" AT TERRA ROSSA 4 OCT 2022 - Terra Rossa, London N1 (10/4/2022)

Preamble
  • 2018 Vigneti Massa Derthona - Italy, Piedmont, Colli Tortonesi
    Served too warm, tropical nose (pineapple) and an intriguing palate on the yellow fruit and with some complexity. Distinctive and decent.
Flight 1
  • 2019 La Biòca Nebbiolo d'Alba Stërmà - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Nebbiolo d'Alba
    Perfumed red nose (pomegranates, sour cherries). Light bodied and sensual. Very soft tannins.
  • 2019 Azienda Agricola Philine Isabelle Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Piemonte DOC
    Alluring nose showing red fruits and forest floor. Vibrant fruit showing pomegranates and sweet cherry yet remaining savoury. Lovely balance and freshness with a little structure that is hidden very well. Very decent but not sure if the hype surrounding the producer exceeds what is in the glass?
Flight 2
  • 2018 Fogliati Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Closed nose but some underlying red fruit. Gentle fine tannins ethereal gorgeous fruit with a little spice glide over the palate with a little bit of earth on a grippy finish. Very well balanced such good freshness and still underlying concentration. With time it puts on weight and midpalate becomes more expressive.
  • 2015 Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino Laboro Dissubbediente - Italy, Piedmont, Vino da Tavola
    Rhubarb and cranberry on the nose. Quite fine tannins, lovely mouthfeel on the sour cherry some grip and minerality. Nice balance. Decent.
Flight 3
  • 2015 Cantina Terre Del Barolo Barolo Arnaldo Rivera Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Lovely perfumed red fruited and slightly airy sensual nose (sweet cherries) with forest floor. Velvety tannins, succulent red fruits (pomegranates and cherries) nice freshness and good lift.
  • 2018 Diego Conterno Barolo Del Commune di Monforte d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Deep regal red fruited nose that you could get lost in. Silky tannins ethereality real structure but so fresh and deliciously red fruited (sour cherries, pomegranate). Smuggled power but such a nice overall package.
  • 2015 Garesio Barolo Cerretta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Earthy minerals that outshine the red fruit on the nose. Slightly coarse tannins, feels meaty and even hot. Serious power with iron filings on the finish. Needs time but is there enough fruit?
Flight 4
  • 2006 Cascina Baricchi Barbaresco Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Quite dark in colour, slightly closed dusty nose, fresh acidity quite resolved tannins with some fine earthy minerality on the finish. In a really nice place but best to drink from now rather than cellar.
  • 2010 Piero Busso Barbaresco Gallina - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Muted nose but after some coaxing some nice red fruits. Fine tannins, acidity not shy, nice lift and ethereality.

Thanks again to Ian for instigating and for my table mates for bringing some great wines.
 
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Location
London
Some more notes and pix on what was a very enjoyable evening. I think Peter's phone camera deserves an upgrade!

"UNDER THE RADAR" PIEDMONT - Terra Rossa (04/10/2022)

No particular brief, just a mix of lesser-known and up-and-coming producers along with some tasty Italian food.

Aperitif
  • 2018 Vigneti Massa Derthona - Italy, Piedmont, Colli Tortonesi
    Lots of alluring yellow fruit on the nose - particularly pineapple showing with air - and some grassiness. Reminded me of Riesling. Deep on the palate, gentle and rounded, with a kick of bitterness to keep things in balance. Good wine, but I didn't find it as exciting as the 2016 I tried last year. (90 pts.)
Langhe Nebbiolo
  • 2019 La Biòca Nebbiolo d'Alba Stërmà - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Nebbiolo d'Alba
    A bright nose, with powdery fruit. I didn't care for the wine much at first - tannic, tart, chewy and young - but with air and food it became far more charming, with soft red fruit and some lovely floral notes. Very decent. (90 pts.)
  • 2019 Azienda Agricola Philine Isabelle Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Piemonte DOC
    A really pretty nose. Pure and lovely, like elegant black tea, well-balanced, refreshing and with an attractively soft finish, but didn't have the impact or complexity I'd hoped for in a wine that costs £52, and which has attracted plenty of hype. (90 pts.)
Barolo pt 1
  • 2015 Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino Laboro Dissubbediente - Italy, Piedmont, Vino da Tavola
    Another wine that showed a lot of development in the glass. At first I really wasn't impressed, with the wine smelling both raw (almost natty) and slightly oxidised, but it really opened up, providing wafts of red fruit and some hints of game. Fun on the palate too, with lots of chewy strawberry fruit, good acidity and a long finish. My #4 of the evening. (92 pts.)
  • 2018 Fogliati Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Really pretty from the off, with pure strawberry fruit, flowers and something like pine needles; a joy to smell. Just a little touch of tannin despite its youth, the wine being creamy, energetic and elegant, dancing like a cloud across the tongue. So approachable that I wonder about its longevity, but maybe that's irrelevant given it's already so enjoyable. I'd hoped the Philine would smell and taste like this wine actually did. My and the group's WOTN. (93 pts.)
Barolo pt 2
  • 2015 Cantina Terre Del Barolo Barolo Arnaldo Rivera Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    I was wondering how this (my bottle) would show, given it's under the radar because it's unfashionable rather than because it's new and trendy, and it acquitted itself pretty well. Slightly odd reductive note that mostly blew off. Juicy and fun, clean and fresh, still some tannins to integrate. Decent wine, if somewhat generic. (90 pts.)
  • 2018 Diego Conterno Barolo Del Commune di Monforte d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Powdery, elegant nose, bright and welcoming. Deep red fruit on the palate, grippy and exciting, with good intensity and an attractively musky undertone. My #3 tonight. (92 pts.)
  • 2015 Garesio Barolo Cerretta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Deep, animale nose, though with no trace of oxidation. Gloriously creamy on the palate, with excellent weight of fruit. Maybe a bit superficial, but when something tastes this good that can be overlooked. My #2 tonight. (93 pts.)
Barbaresco
  • 2006 Cascina Baricchi Barbaresco Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Seemed a bit tired at first, and was hard-going, chewy and beetrooty, but benefited from exposure to air. Crisp, spicy nose, with jewel-like red fruit. Lifted and juicy on the palate, hints of truffle developing; I'd have enjoyed spending longer with this wine. (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Piero Busso Barbaresco Gallina - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    An outlier tonight: mature and subtle, dark-toned with menthol and balsamic rather than driven by red fruit. Grippy and acidic, rather spicy (cumin?), perhaps a touch dilute. For the near-term. (90 pts.)
  • 2013 Olek Bondonio Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Corked :-( NR (flawed)
In conclusion... 2015 and 2018 aren't the vintages people get most excited about, but boy do they provide a lot of pleasure!

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A fun evening, which helped assuage the crushing blow of having to pull out of Piedmont wimps owing to the IEA-induced vicissitudes of UK financial markets.

I think Graham and Nick’s fulsome notes covered all bases and I found myself nodding in agreement as I read through them. My inept attempt at notes were an even more illegible scrawl than usual, so I will spare you all.

The Derthona and the Philine were a tad warmer than I would have liked, and I will have to have a word with Francois the proprietor to turn down the thermostat next time because it was like the tropics in there last night.

The ice bucket, expertly filled mainly with cold water, made a welcome appearance just in the nick of time. The service and food at Terra Rossa were exemplary and the value for money exceptional.

Last night’s wines showcased the excellence of modern Piedmont wine making. The Fogliati, for example, gives so much pleasure already that you wonder how it might improve with age, rather than merely evolve into something slightly different.

The two old school wines were the two Barbarescos, the 2006 and 2010, both renowned long term vintages but both well into their respective drinking windows. Gone are the days when you need to wait three, four or five decades to get the best out of these wines.

The wines I would consider seeking out from these would be the disobedient, the most fun wine last night, the Fogliati, the Garesio and the Diego Conterno, a producer I have subconsciously sometimes confused with Paulo Conterno, who’s wines can be marred by high alcohol. I don’t think any of the bottles last night were 15%, but none of them are exactly low in alcohol.

The scores:

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