Italy are world champions in soccer and just knocked the French out of the Euro 2008 tourney!
But, it is their wine that is stealing the stage and La Spinetta is one of the very best and beautiful. Giorgio Rivetti leads La Spinetta and has made this little Moscato D’Asti producer into a friend and rival of the likes of Gaja and Giacosa, in the Piedmonte region of Italy in the great areas of Barolo and Barbaresco. La Spinetta is one of my favorite wineries, in fact I don’t miss a vintage of their little Barbera and now they have added a Tuscan estate to their holdings and produce three wonderful Sangiovese wines from it. I recently had their Tuscan “Sezzana” IGT and loved it like a top Brunello! It was beautiful with intense dark fruit, hints of sweet herbs and licorice, all layered and balanced surberbly. There is little doubt that they will succeed in Tuscany as they have done in Piedmonte. For the greatest of the modern Italian winemakers, look no further than La Spinetta and the Rivetti’s as their wines are clean and done in small French barrels, buteven so this wines capture their terroir perfectly and are elegant complext wines. Their trio of Barbarescos all sublime examples of modern thinking and traditional love of farming in the vineyards. They go for tiny yields and use only the very best grapes, giving results that remind one of Grand Cru Burgundy, comparing Rivetti’s Crus to Romanee-Conti’s in not that far off. These are fantastic wines that say and offer a lot, they are wines of class and intensity that show the very best of their region, and of the greatness of Italy. Then there is the Barolo, La Spinetta started recently with Barolo, in 2000, and I was lucky enough to be at its unveiling in the US, and have been a believer since that first taste in San Francisco! Every vintage has met with critical aclaim from the worlds wine press, and the current releases are fantastic and powerful. Know as Campe della Spinetta, the Barolo is as the legend goes; (Barolo) Is The King of Wines!
So if you want to taste magic in a glass and feel the joy of Nebbiolo as it can be and should be, just find these rare wines and you’ll become a fan like me of La Spinetta, really it is like falling under a spell! So now that Italy is through to the finals of the Euro 2008, it is time to enjoy the beautiful game with some of the finest wines in the world, and for me that will most certainly be Giorgio’s little beauties, the hard part will be chosing which one!
2001 Campe Della Spinetta Barolo (La Spinetta) Piedmonte, Italy
This is a stunning wine of incredible depth and style with rich flavors and layers of complexity. This is a wine, a Barolo that makes you understand why Nebbiolo is a world class grape, and a wine that goes a long way to prove the historic adage “Barolo the King of Wines.” I had this wine at a wonderful wine dinner where Giorgio Rivetti, the leader of La Spinetta, presented his wines himself, and I can tell you even he was impressed with this wines showing! Fantastic in fruit and power, but giving and lush with red berry, plum, cherry fruits leading the way on the palate. There was also smoky tar, orange peel, licorice and vanilla all in perfect focus and adding complexity. Very clean and modern in style, but with intensity and vigor of a classic Barolo, this is the real deal. This is the baby of the La Spinetta line up, this wine being from only the second release proves these guys have got it right, I don’t know of many wineries that could have produced such a wonder in only their second try. Great wine, from a great region, made well by a super producer. (Est. $150) 96 Points, grapelive
*Current release 2003 Vintage.
1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Valeirano Piedmonte, Italy
This beautiful red is just simply amazing now, it is near perfect and more like a Grand Cru Burgundy than not, it reminds me of a Richebourg or Grands Echezeaux for sure. Lovely floral notes come in waves, with dried roses and violets giving sweet perfume before the taste on the engaging palate. The fruit is plum, cherry and currants with added depth coming in the form of lavender, black licorice, mountain herbs, sweet smoky oak notes and truffle. This wine is just whole and balanced in a way that is special for its elegance and long finish without being too smooth or too delicate, there is a subtle vibrancy and grip that tells you that this is a great wine now and will be for many years to come. This wine is pure pleasure and was fantastic with food, and it held its own against the younger and showier 2004 version which was no mean feat I can tell you, as the 2004 is a great wine as well! If you can find this wonderful Nebbiolo, I say get it and love it now or hold it for 4-6 years. (Est. $150-175) 96 Points, grapelive
*Current Release 2004 (94-95 Points, grapelive)