Sunday, July 19, 2009

TN: Martin & Weyrich 2003 Nebbiolo "Il Vecchio"

Ah, Nebbiolo. The light red color of a Pinot Noir. The searing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc. And the drying tannins of a Petite Sirah. With some many disparate elements to balance, it's no coincidence Nebbiolo is reputed as one of the most challenging varietals to grow. Although my point of reference is mid-level Nebbiolo from Piedmont, I'm pretty certain the Martin & Weyrich 2003 Nebbiolo "Il Vecchio" is on target, particularly given the price point.

The bouquet is heavy on cigar box--pipe tobacco and cedar--as well as black cherry. Rather interestingly, the producer states the wine is "redolent of cedar, spicy tobacco and black fruit aromas," while another review of the wine observes "layers of cedar, cigar box, tobacco leaf give way to dark berries, plums and raspberries." This is a surprisingly consistent set of independent observations. The mid-palate is round and perhaps a bit flabby, but there's plenty of acidity and tannin that balance out on the finish. It's a bit overripe because of the higher alcohol and some dried fruit characteristics, yet this wine overflows with character and structure. Maybe it will benefit from more age, but the tannins are mellow enough to approach now.

Definitely one I'd recommend to try side by side with a Langhe Nebbiolo. It's a bit richer and fruitier than the Piedmont equivalents I've tried, yet still shows varietal character. I've seen Martin & Weyrich wines in some grocery stores in Southern California, so their Nebbiolo may be readily available depending on where you live.

Score: 87-90
Price: $22 from Martin & Weyrich Winery

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