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Nebbiolo d'Alba, Bricco dell'Asino, Pira, 2000


Much is made of the Barolo Wars between the new and old style in Piemonte. One thing for sure,   if you love the new oaky style of Barolo you have to pay a lot for your pleasures. It seems the lowest prices in the modern style start around $50.00. No, Pira Nebbiolo d’Alba is not a Barolo, but the vineyard is just outside the DOCG and for around $30.00 this Nebbiolo d’Alba offers depth and complexity that can rival some of its more famous and expensive neighbors.      

Nebbiolo d’Alba is often misunderstood as a kind of declassified Barolo or Barbaresco, but they are in fact distinct DOC’s. While the Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC surrounds Barolo and Barbaresco one cannot become the other. Declassified nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco becomes Langhe or Piemonte   Rosso — not Nebbiolo d’Alba. It is clear that there are vineyards in the Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC that can produce wines of the same character and depth as some Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards. They may not surpass wines from the likes of Brunate and Cannubi, but the best vineyards can clearly deliver wines of great character. Bricco dell’Asino is showing the promise to be one of these vineyards.

The Pira family acquired this estate in the 1960’s, but it was the arrival of GianMatteo Pira that launched this estate towards top quality wines. The Pira estate has become famous for their extraordinary Dolcetto wines from the Dogliani zone. Don’t confuse this estate with the excellent Barolo producer, Luigi Pira, in the town of Serralunga d’Alba. This Pira estate is located right on the border of Monforte d’Alba and Dogliani and so is allowed to produce wines with both the Alba and Dogliani place-names. GianMatteo’s dark and powerful Dogliani Dolcetto wines are among the best  of Piemonte and now, with the 2000 vintage, he is making a Nebbiolo d’Alba worthy of serious attention. He has aged this wine 100% in barrique and the toasty oak flavors will please fans of new-style Barolo.      

Tasting Notes: Brilliant scarlet, hints of ruby and a touch of garnet. Just translucent. Spicy ripe plums with layered sweet vanilla oak. Smoky, charcoal aromas add complexity. Firm and structured on the palate. Loaded with ripe plums and cherries with a distinctive tang of chewing tobacco. Starts out medium bodied, but then expands magically in the mouth into an explosion of tannins, tobacco and wild dark fruit flavors. A really delicious wine to drink. With short term aging - 2 or 3 years - you will have a great bottle. A Jens Schmidt Selection, Imported by Montecastelli Selections.