I Love Upscale Wine - A Barolo (Piedmont, Italy)

The king of wines and...

Schiavenza Barolo

Schiavenza Barolo in tasting expensive wines

Schiavenza Broglio Barolo. Aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years.

Barolo. The Italians simply call it ďThe king of wines and the wine of kings.Ē Barolo comes from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is the best expression of Italyís finest red grape, Nebbiolo. This wine was developed in the early 1800s by Giulietta Falleti, the marchioness of the village of Barolo, with the aid of a French enologist. Vittorio Emanuele II was the first king of united Italy. His son Emanuele (via a royal mistress) planted Nebbiolo vines in the family property Fontanafredda, an area that still produces Barolos which usually cost much less than the bottle reviewed below.

Traditional Barolo wines were made from very ripe grapes were fermented in contact with their grape skins (a major source of tannins) for months in large chestnut casks. In the next step the fermented juice (the must) aged for years. The bottles were cellared for years if not decades before they were considered ready to drink. This lengthy process engendered to very distinctive wines that frankly were not appreciated by most of the wine-drinking public. I cannot comment on such wines as I have never tasted one. For decades now, most Barolos are fermented in stainless steel vats before aging in oak barrels. They are consumed fairly young. Times change.

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Wine Reviewed
Schiavenza Broglio Barolo DOCG 2004 14% alcohol about $60

Letís start with the marketing materials. This wine won Three Glasses Ė their highest rating Ė from Gambero Rosso Italian Wines 2009. 'While I am not naturally inclined to make 'vintage of the century'- type prognostications there can be little doubt that [the] 2004 [Barolo vintage is] of exceptional quality. As I tasted through the vintage my sense was that the wines combine the rich, ripe fruit of 2000 with the color, aromatic complexity and structure of 2001. If that sounds like a particularly appealing combination, believe me, it is.' (Antonio Galloni, at the Robert Parker website, Jan. 2006)

Schiavenza vineyards in tasting expensive wines

Schiavenza vineyards and restaurant. These grapes are harvested by hand.

At the first sips this Barolo was very powerful tasting of leather and chocolate. It was very long and balanced. The centerpiece of the first meal was a 1st cut veal chop that I pan fried in olive oil with brown mushrooms and garlic and covered in Montreal steak spices. The wineís acid was sharper when it met the rare veal. The Barolo was multilayered and a little sip went a long way. The chocolate and leather were stronger with the garlic and mushroom combination. The wine wrapped itself nicely around the meatís fat and was powerful even with the relatively tasteless microwaved redskin potatoes. The other side dish was a moderately spicy tomato salsa containing onions, green pepper, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers. The salsa couldnít mute the Barolo but it did try and managed to bring it down a notchette.

The second meal was a broiled rib steak doused with Worcestershire sauce and Montreal steak spices. The Barolo was long and mouthfilling, definitely worthy of savoring. It tasted of leather and chocolate and I started getting tobacco. This was a melt in your mouth wine. With potatoes the chocolate taste intensified. The accompaniment was a chickpea, canned corn, parsley, red pepper, and sliced green olive salad that didnít really change the wine. But frankly, the Barolo was at its best with the steak.

The final meal consisted of broiled merguez, a spicy North African lamb sausage accompanied by potato patties and a Turkish salad made from sweet pimento, tomato paste, dried parsley, and hot peppers. The wine tasted once again of chocolate and leather. It was mouth filling and had no trouble dealing with the spices. The Turkish salad brought it down a peg, yet it was still delicious.

My other wine reviews taste two cheeses. While I was tempted to skip the cheese tasting altogether (Barolo is said to accompany strong cheeses quite well), I did try it with a whipped cream cheese. There was a nice balance between the acidity and tannins and the wine showed good length. Yet I had the feeling that this pairing wasnít the optimum way to consume this fine wine. I added smoked salmon; these two upscale products really didnít mesh.

Final verdict. This was one fine wine. But it wasnít the best Barolo that I ever tasted, and I can still count the number of Barolos that I have encountered. Iíll be drinking a lot of other upscale wines before I try another Barolo. And someday perhaps Iíll taste one of those old style Barolos that the old-timers prefer.

One additional point: We would love to hear and publish your opinion about this wine.

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About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine websites include
www.theworldwidewine.com    and    http://www.wineinyourdiet.com

Visit his website devoted to Italian travel www.travelitalytravel.com

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