Last night, I set out for a run with my new shoes and my new toe, in the New Year. Feeling good, wind in my face, a slight southern breeze, not too warm, not too cool, the light of the full moon illuminating the path before me.
From nowhere a dog rushed out of the darkness towards me. Yelping and on the offense, he was heading for my ankle and my foot, my new, improved foot.
That little guy was unaware of the boundaries of his territory and I was crossing over into it. Nevermind that I was on a public street, he saw me as the aggressor.
Earlier in the day I had been looking at a selection of Barbaresco Riserva’s from 2001. Small lots, single vineyards, the kind of wine we all talk about, love to yearn for, want to fill our cellars and our impatient goblets with.
In this New Year in the dark, under the moon, as the adrenaline gave my legs a needed shot of energy, something in me clicked. Thank God it wasn’t my left knee.
When I got to a computer and the forces of destiny allowed me to get on to look at some information, I saw that some of the 2000 wines from this producer were still sitting in a couple of warehouses around the state. These are wines that have gotten various accolades in the press, Gambero Rosso has anointed several of them, the wines, over the years are repeatedly singled out for their excellence. And these wines take the idea of territoriality down to the cubic meter, these wines express their boundaries in ways that scared little dog cannot.
So why did those wines languish in their pens, waiting for someone to adopt them and take them home?
We’re talking 3 bottles here, 6 there, 1 carton over there, that sort of thing. No big deal? Maybe those wines need a little dog barking out about them.
That’s the paradox I am seeing in the wine scene today. We have these amazing wines, not only from Italy, that are an instant transport to the site of the vineyard. Beam you up, open the bottle, you are there. There’s no uber-critic holding you by a leash telling you what to enjoy, when to stop, where to go. You’re unleashed, on your own to enjoy and evaluate with your own unique set of receptors and emotions, you are your own uber-critic tonight, under the full moon of greatness.
“How can I find these wines?” That is the question I get many times. Well, first you have to turn off the TV and the computer and go out amongst them. Taste, taste, taste. Get a notebook, write them down, make a note of something for heavens sake. You cannot remember it all. Do you want in the game or do you want to keep having someone telling you what to like what not to like, what to drink, what to think?
Working late on the new Barbaresco list for the presenters (i.e. sales) in the company, I ran down the list of the 8 or so offerings. All but 2 of them had press and write ups. One year from now will those 2 wines still be in some wholesaler’s warehouse? I hope not.
So last year Asili got great reviews and this year it didn’t. Is that the fault of Asili or the writer assigned to evaluate the wine? What about the terroir of the writer, that changes more than the vineyard? Writers fly all over the place, different water, and time zones. Different exposures to the wind and the sun, sleeping patterns interrupted. The vines in Asili, tonight under the full moon are settling in under their blanket of fog, their terroir safely assured by their spirit of place. I would rely on that factor more than the writer, or the wine judge.
Give those little dogs another look. They are just protecting their territory, a territory that is being encroached upon as we speak. My little dog let me pass, but this is something we'll need to revisit this year, more than once. Want more on this? Dan Berger of Appellation America has a great piece on this subject. Have at it.
A resolution to consider: Adopt a Barbaresco - year after year.
Italian Wine Guy®, wishing you a Happy New Year, from my "island".