2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco “Santo Stefano”

Barbara Lynch’s No. 9 Park in Beacon Hill marked the start of this weekend’s food adventures, a thoroughly pleasurable fine dining event that included the 2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco “Santo Stefano.”  I had the inside track to this powerhouse restaurant, with its James Beard Award-winning wine list and recognitions from Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston and 50 Best Restaurants list. The entire experience was meticulously curated, delivered in the decor, the ambiance, staff, and certainly the wine and food that were the star attractions.

Our meal kicked off with hors d’eouvres that included hers and his steak tartare (with charred onion aioli and pine nuts) and prune-stuffed gnocchi, which we swapped throughout. Absolutely LOVED the foie gras that was served with the gnocchi—Cara said this appetizer has been on the menu since the beginning and I fully understand why. Faroe Island salmon, with asparagus, crème fraiche, and beets was the entree each of us selected. Your host is a big fan of all these elements, and for the most part they added up to a healthy dinner.

2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco “Santo Stefano”, Piedmont, Italy.
2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco “Santo Stefano”, Piedmont, Italy.

But this is a wine blog first and foremost, so let me share a bit more on this 2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco. It’s not the first Piedmont wine covered in Notes, but it’s likely the first Barbaresco. (I think the only one I’ve had previously goes years back to a Buffalo work trip with the Ivoclar team [Dr. Tysowsky picked one, as I recall…]) I selected the Santo Stefano from No. 9 Park’s extensive wine list, which included a number of old world wines from boutique vintners. In the glass I thought it poured light, ultimately showing a brick red garnet, and shared notes of strawberry at first. Certainly it tilted more to strawberry and raspberry rather than dark cherry or dark fruits. 

Castello di Neive crafts this bottle from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, and the wine is very well balanced overall with an even, tannic finish. While my tastes traditionally run more to Bordeaux-style blends and Napa Cabs, this Barbaresco was great accompaniment to the start of our weekend in Boston. We began it in good fashion, tucked away in the restaurant’s cozy back dining room, glad for excellent foodstuffs, wine, and the exciting days ahead.

A final thought—I suspect most reading Notes are not looking for a recommended buy or shopping Italian red wines. If you are, though, then the 2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano would be an excellent choice. 

2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo

About two years ago I snatched up several of these “Garblet” bottles from Azienda Agricola Marianot, and slowly I’ve worked through them without providing a Notes summary—until today. This is a classic Barolo from Italy’s Piedmont region, with Nebbiolo fruit harvested from vineyards (ranging in age from 10 to 40 years) in Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Novello, La Morra, Ceduno, and Grinzane Cavour.

The 2015 Barolo vintage, I’ve come to learn, is pretty exceptional and I half-question the good deal that delivered the Marianot Garblet to me. I mean to say, if 2015 is indeed a great year for Barolo (and acknowledging Barolo as the “king of wines”) doesn’t it suggest this a fledgling offering if I obtained at less than $20 per bottle? Freely I share that the previous bottles I sampled felt slightly undeveloped, but that could have been me drinking too early or without allowing the wine to breathe as much as I did tonight.

2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo, Italy.
2015 Azienda Agricola Marianot, Garblet, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy.

This bottle I liked much better, and not just because I was savoring the UNC victory over Duke tonight. The wine is light red in your glass, clearly not as deep-hued as a Cabernet or Syrah, but delivers excellent cherry flavors. Call it garnet red? The 2015 Marianot Garblet has notes of strawberry and earthiness on the nose too, a dry wine overall. It grew on me over time and I’m wistful I had not allowed the previous bottles to set up properly. We had this wine with dinner, a Saturday night special with steak, wedge salads, and asparagus—and though light in color its tannins stood up well to the task.

Of the 2015 Marianot Garblet, James Suckling comments, “A fragrant Barolo that adds a spicy, herbal edge to the impression of dried rose petals and caramelized orange peel. Medium-bodied and grainy. Medium-chewy and medium-long on the finish.

The Marianot team fermented the Nebbiolo in stainless steel tanks and ultimately let the wine mature for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels. Fining consisted of 4 to 6 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 6 months in the bottle. The result is an intense, harmonious 2015 wine that I really enjoyed. Looking forward to more Barolo in the days and weeks ahead. 

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto

My first Barbaresco for Notes this evening, and breaking quite a domestic run that I’ve been enjoying over the past several months. Before this Italian gem, the only “offshore” wines I’ve sampled as of late have consisted of Orin Swift‘s Locations, so even that means international grapes through the lens of a US winemaker. Many years ago at a client dinner in Buffalo I had my only previous Barbaresco, and since I don’t remember that very well this one is getting a good up-close glimpse.

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto, Barbaresco, Italy.

2012 Barbaresco Riserva, Roberto Sarotto, Barbaresco, Italy.

The wine is really nice, an easy-drinking red that runs lighter than a Napa Cab but heavier (and smokier) than a Pinot Noir. At its core the 2012 Barbaresco Riserva is cherry in flavor, albeit with some definite spice and smoke on the palate. It is made from Nebbiolo grapes and a nice break from the fruit-forward reds I have favored as of late. This fruit is grown in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and mixes “tart berry flavors with dray earth, spices, and potpourri.”

Vivino (from where I purchased this bottle) says of Barbaresco, “If you ever wished that Pinot Noir had the punch of Cab, this might be the wine for you!” A truism and I just might be that dreamer–at least on a summer nights where a Cab is a bigger commitment.

This evening the 2012 Barbaresco Riserva from Roberto Sarotto accompanied a simple meal consisting of grilled steak (seasoned only with salt and pepper) and a garden salad. Enjoyed the meal; enjoyed the bottle of wine even more.

It’s the first Barbaresco for Notes but I’m pleased to report it will not be the last. Thanks as always for your readership!