Wednesday, March 6, 2013


2010 Marziano Abbona Rinaldi | DOC Barbera d'Alba

Is there a contradiction between wines we admire on an intellectual level, and wines that simply give us pleasure?

I love stinky country wines, I really do. These aromas and flavours used to be simply what the wines were - brettanomyces wasn't something to be scared of. And now most consumers (and winemakers) have not only forgotten how magical a bit of brett can be, but have come to see it as a deadly flaw. Well you shouldn't be afraid of a little stank in wine (or in life). Don't judge a stinky wine too soon - it might surprise you, delight you, and eventually win you over. 

It was fairly late at night, but I wanted to open this wine for a quick taste, in preparation for the next night's dinner. And dammit, it reeked. I would venture to say that this was by far the stinkiest wine I've ever nosed, simply rolling in fumes of manure and barnyard. But Abbona is one of my favourite Piedmontese producers, and I was certain all it needed was some time in the decanter. About 12 hours later, it began rewarding my patience - rich, savoury aromas, full of spice and cured meats. Dark but fresh, with fabulous concentration, harmony, and complexity already.

So yet again, these great producers teach us that even humble varietals yield wines of finesse and beauty. Wonderful, if you have the patience and understanding of how brett affects wine. Don't be afraid of the stink - decant it, and take a look again the next day. Just like how you should never trust a woman who can't fart in front of you. If she's hiding a basic bodily function, what other deep, dark, horrible secrets is she keeping from you?!

So no, wines that we love on a sensual and intellectual level don't have to be exclusive to each other. That would be a shame, wouldn't it. As Depardieu once said, I can live with very little, but I like to have a lot in my glass.


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