Albino Rocca Barbaresco Classico
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Type NebbioloRead About the Wine
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I often get asked two questions: “What’s your favorite wine?” and “What wine drinks far above its price tag?”
On a Venn diagram, at the heart of the set of answers to both questions is Albina Rocca Barbaresco. Since 1964, year in and year out, Albina Rocca has been making the wine of kings and the king of wines — Nebbiolo — at a price that has fallen far below — sometimes hundreds of dollars below — other producers in the appellation. This sweetheart of a wine used to fly so under the wine cognoscentis’ radar that it felt like I was a squirrel hiding treasures in cellars all around town!
“Used to” are the key words in that sentence.
Following a string of breathtaking vintages, the wine press got hip to our darling Rocca. And it all came to a head this past January. Competing against all of the top Barbaresco producers (you know them!), which are priced hundreds of dollars higher, Albina Rocca was crowned the top wine in the appellation by The New York Times. Needless to say, the word got out. And, like many of the best wines in life, this one is now highly allocated. But shockingly, it’s still at a drink-your-heart-out price!
In the glass, the 2018 vintage is at once hedonistic and structurally powerful, drinkable now yet built to last twenty years or more. Let me explain. 2018 was a great year for Piedmont, and, man, have I been looking forward to drinking it. To put it simply, in the 2018 vintage, everything is MORE. More Maraschino cherry fruit, more rose petal perfume, more wild red and black cherries, more black tea, more tannin for more muscle, more acidity for more refreshing purity. Like I said, simply more. But more doesn’t mean the wine is unbalanced in any way. The fruit is mighty, but not dominant or jammy. The tannins are robust, yet totally integrated and smooth. The acidity is compelling, and also harmonious with the body of this wine.
I do recommend decanting the wine for at least 30 minutes (e.g., come home from work, pop off a glass, drink, change, watch the news, then dive into the rest), as well as serving it in the biggest Burgundy bowl you can find. Risotto is the classic pairing, but with this beautiful summer weather, try a hazelnut-crusted grilled pork chop with wild mushroom fricassee.
My favorite? Oh, yes. Drinks above its price tag? Absolutely. Compare it to De Forville’s neighbors at hundreds of dollars a bottle. We snagged a little bit away from the cognoscenti. Time to spirit away yours!
“A beam of pure cherry is the hallmark of this round, supple red. Floral, mint, mineral and tobacco notes add depth as this unfolds gracefully to a lingering finish. This is firmly structured, yet balanced, with an aftertaste of fruit and wild herbs, tar and a chalky feel. Best from 2024 through 2040.” – Wine Spectator