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Vallana Barbera at Table Wine in Asheville, North Carolina.

2014 Vallana Barbera – Case of the Month

Case of the Month – Ben, Will and myself were sipping on the 2014 Vallana Barbera after work recently and a really good question arose.  How is this wine less than $15?  We’re talking about one of the most historically significant names in the Alto Piemonte and a producer that Wine Spectator called one of the top 100 producers on the planet.  And we’re also talking about a wine that is absurdly delicious, and one that we all agreed could easily sell for $20+ per bottle.  We never found an answer to our original question, but we certainly found extreme enjoyment out of that bottle of wine.  I promptly contacted Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports and secured enough Vallana Barbera to make it our next Case of the Month.  You should buy some! Here’s the deal:

2014 Vallana Barbera – On sale through June 17th

Regular Price: $13.99/bottle

Sale Price: $10.99/bottle on your solid case — Over 20% off!

Vallana is the stuff of legends.  The estate as we know it today was founded in 1937, but the Vallana family name first shows up in connection to high quality winemaking in Alto Piemonte in 1787.  As Robert Parker says, these are “intense traditionally-made wines that ooze with character.”  The family’s specialty is Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo (we’ve got that too), and these are the wines that deservedly gain all of the critical acclaim.  But they also make a small amount of Barbera.  It is not to be overlooked, and it is the least expensive way to “test drive” a Vallana wine.  It also bears the stylistic framework that marks Vallana’s wines.

Vallana Winery in Alto Piemonte.

From humble abodes come grand wines.

The vineyards of the Alto Piemonte, located north of the Langhe at the base of the Alps, are cooler and possess more acidic soils.  These conditions give the Vallana wines their acidic backbone and the structure that allows them to age gracefully for years.  The propensity to age and improve is one of the hallmark attributes of Vallana, and the tradition is carried on today by Giuseppina Vallana, together with her son Francis (a Ph.D. in Viticulture and Oenology), and her daughters Marina and Miriam.

Although their Barbera is perfect to drink young, it also has a track record for medium to long term aging.  Yes, an $11 bottle of wine that you can age!  As with all of their wines, including their more expensive offerings, all of the grapes for their Barbera are hand harvested from organically farmed vineyards.  Fermentation and aging takes place in cement vats to preserve purity and character.  And wow, does this wine have some character!  Made in a traditional, old school Piemonte style, the wine is medium bodied and refreshing, offering up lovely notes of red berries and moderately complex notes of spices and earth.  High in acidity but possessing soft tannin, this is enjoyable all year round as a stand-alone wine, but I really love the way it enhances the flavors of grilled meats, especially lamb.

What more is there to say?  Seriously folks, this is the kind of wine that makes me do what I do with such vigorous passion.  Legendary producer, clean farming and production techniques, delicious wine.  Buy some!  If you’re not sure, we invite you to stop by Saturday, May 20th (2-5pm) to give it a sniff and a sip. Email me at josh@tablewineasheville.com if you’d like me to hold some for you as this one will run out.  Cheers and happy drinking and eating in Asheville!

Josh Spurling
Owner/Operator
828.505.8588

Free wine tasting at Table Wine in Asheville, North Carolina.

Free on Fridays Wine Tasting – Rocking Good Wines

Friday, April 7th from 4-7 p.m. – We’re pulling the corks on some rocking good wines this Friday and you’re invited!  Stop by the store to sample the new vintage of Barnard Griffin’s award winning dry rose followed by an honest and easy-going Barbera.  And we’ll finish up with the new release of Alto Moncayo’s massive Veraton Garnacha — we won’t pour this one again, so don’t miss your chance to try this “Gargantuan Garnacha!”  It’s guaranteed to be a rocking good time featuring some rocking good wines! All you have to do is stop by, taste the wines, stock up and save big!  Can’t make it by, but want to place an order?  Just email us at josh@tablewineasheville.com.

The Wines
Save big on all of the tasting wines!  Mix any 3 of them and save 10%, mix any 6 and save 15%, or mix any 12 and save 20%!

1. 2016 Barnard Griffin Sangiovese Rosé  (Columbia Valley, Washington) – It’s back and it’s another fantastic wine from Rob Griffin.  Taste for yourself why Barnard Griffin Rosés have won eleven Best of Class and numerous gold awards at prestigious wine competitions since our first Rosé release in 2002.  100% Sangiovese fermented completely dry in stainless steel, this will make fans of this wine happy.  Bursting with ripe raspberry, strawberry, and orange zest, it is ripe yet bursting with refreshing acidity.  
Tasting Price: $12.59 in mixed 3-packs | $11.04 in mixed 6-packs | $11.89 in mixed cases

2. 2014 Bricco dei Tati Barbera (Piemonte, Italy) – Italian native Emanuele Gaiarin and his American-born wife Mary Beth purchased this rustic estate in the hills of Langhe in 2006.  With it came an old farm house, some old vineyards, 8 large cement fermenting tanks, and a 100 year old grape press.  The couple make honest, natural wines that are both charming and delicious, and their Barbera has become a customer favorite.  Light, low in tannin, and popping with bright red fruit and subtle earth notes, it is an absolute joy to drink.
Tasting Price: $9.89 in mixed 3-packs | $9.34 in mixed 6-packs | $8.79 in mixed cases

3. 2014 Alto Moncayo Veraton (Campo de Borja, Spain) – Hit the reset button!  We’re moving into a whole new breed of wine with this one!  A joint venture between importer Jorge Ordonez, Bodegas Borsao, and winermaker Chris Ringland, this is Grenache on some serious steroids.  From 30 to 50 year old vines, the grapes are picked late and then aged for 16-18 months in primarily new French and American oak.  The result is a wine that will coat every square inch of your palate with flavors of ripe boysenberry, blueberry, vanilla, and exotic spice.
Tasting Price: $26.99 in mixed 3-packs | $25.49 in mixed 6-packs | $23.99 in mixed cases

Taste some classic Northern Italian wines at Table Wine in Asheville, NC.

Free on Fridays Wine Tasting – Classic Northern Italian Wines

Friday, March 31st from 4-7 pm – Join us on Friday (directions here) for a free wine tasting starring some Classic Northern Italian Wines.  Taste a trio of delicious new arrivals to the store!

Northern Italy is home to some of the country’s most well known and greatest wines.  From easy-going sparkling wines and refreshing whites to big, structured reds, the region has a wine for every type of palate. We invite you to stop by the store this Friday to sample some of our new favorites!  Up first, it’s an estate-grown Prosecco from a family run estate — this is a rarity for Prosecco as most of these wines are made at large facilities.  Trust us, you will be able to taste the difference!  Up next, we’ll pour you a deliciously refreshing Arneis, one of the Piemonte’s most important white grapes.  To finish, you’ll taste an exquisite Barbera from old, organically farmed hillside vineyards……….this one’s got a little age on it too.  Translated, it’s drinking really well right now.  Stop by, taste, learn, and save on all of the featured tasting wines.

Can’t make it by, but want to place an order?  Just email us at josh@tablewineasheville.com.

The Wines
Save big on all of the tasting wines!  Mix any 3 of them and save 10%, mix any 6 and save 15%, or mix any 12 and save 20%!

1. NV Tenuta Degli Ultimi “Ciacola” Prosecco Brut  (Conegliano-Veneto, Italy) – This estate-grown Prosecco comes from hillside vineyards in the village of Conegliano, long hailed as the best spot in the Veneto for Prosecco production.  Fermented completely dry, it offers up crisp notes of apple and tropical fruits, finishing with zesty acidity.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better Prosecco for the money!
Tasting Price: $12.59 on mixed 3-packs | $11.04 in mixed six packs | $11.89 in mixed cases

2. 2015 Cordero di Montezemolo Roero Arneis (Piemonte, Italy) – Talk about an absolutely delicious, extroverted white!  Arneis is the grape, and it literally means “rascal” because it can be difficult to grow.  Whatever the case, Cordero di Montezemolo makes one of the richer, creamier versions out there.  With creamy pear, peach, golden apple, and floral notes, this calls to mind good White Burgundy but costs a fraction of the price.
Tasting Price: $16.19/bottle | $15.29 in mixed six packs | $14.44 in mixed cases


3. 2011 Borgo Moncalvo Barbera d’Asti Superiore (Piemonte, Italy) – Talk about a bargain in super high quality, perfectly aged, certified organic Piemonte red wine!  Most of Borgo Moncalvo’s Barbera was planted back in the 1950’s.  These old vines yield a hearty and robust style of wine with soaring aromas and flavors of ripe blueberry, raspberry, and spice.  The “bottle conditioning” on this one contributes a soft and supple texture.
Tasting Price: $15.29 in mixed 3-packs | $14.44 in mixed 6-packs | $13.59 in mixed cases

 

2011 A. and G. Fantino Barbera d'Alba Cascina Dardi

2011 A. and G. Fantino Barbera D’Alba Cascina Dardi

Wine of the Weeks – Amazing, old vine Barbera from a classic vintage as low as $19.99/bottle! Email josh@tablewineasheville.com or stop by the store to make sure you get some.  As I’ve gotten older and my taste in wine has “matured,” Barbera has become a real go-to wine for me. Being a lowly wine shop owner, I can rarely afford Barolo and Barbaresco, but I can always afford good Barbera, and one of the secrets to getting the best wine for your dollar is to buy Barbera from a top notch Barolo or Barbaresco producer.  This is one of those!  From a marvelous vintage in Italy’s Piemonte region, this is from a 60 year old vineyard in the Bussia cru, just north of Montforte, one of Barolo’s most famous zones.  It’s the 2011 A. and G. Fantino Barbera d’Alba Cascina Dardi, and it’s the new Wine of the Weeks.  Here’s the deal:

2011 A. and G. Fantino Barbera d’Alba Cascina Dardi – On sale through Wednesday, May 25th

Regular Price: $24.99/bottle

Sale Price: $21.99/bottle (over 10% off) or $19.99/bottle on solid 6-packs (20% off)

I forgot to mention that there are just 6 precious cases of this wine available — I bought all that my distributor had to offer Western North Carolina, and I have no doubt that this one is going to go fast.  Stop by this Saturday, May 14th between 2 and 5 p.m. and we’ll pour you a splash if there is any left to sell.  Alright, I’m starting to sound like a used car salesman.  Let me tell you why I bought all of this one.  The brothers Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino run this family estate in Monforte d’Alba.  Prior to dedicating himself to running his family’s estate with his brother, Alessandro managed the vineyards and served as the enologist at the legendary Cantina Bartolo Mascarello for 20 years, from 1978 to 1997.

He has definitely put his experience working for one of the legends of Barolo to good use.  Of course, it’s not hard to make good wine when you have a great vintage and a great vineyard.  Wine Spectator rated the 2011 Piemonte vintage at 94 points and said it was a “fine year for Barbera.”  Yep, they got that right!  The Fantinos choose to ferment this wine in stainless steel, and I completely support that decision.  When you’re working with 60 year old, deeply rooted, low yielding vines, why do anything to take away from the natural purity and abundance of character inherent in those grapes?

As importer Kermit Lynch says, the “Fantino brothers produce an amazing Barbera d’Alba from these ancient vines in Dardi. The Barbera is loaded with lush fruit and smooth, silky texture, and a ravishing perfume.”  Yep, Kermit pretty much sums that up nicely.  I had similar notes that included terms like silky, polished, balanced, cherry, plum, leather, spice, complexity and so on.  All in all, this is just a ridiculously good wine from a small family estate (they make 3,800 cases total and they make 8 wines).  Buy some or I’ll take it all home……….that’s a promise!  Stop by the store or email me at josh@tablewineasheville.com to pick some up before I do just that.  Happy drinking, happy eating, and happy spring from me to you!

Three awesome Barberas!

Nothing But Barbera – Free on Friday Wine Tasting – Friday, August 30th, 2013 – 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Stop by Table Wine anytime this Friday, August 30th between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. to sample a great lineup of Barberas.  For many years, Barbera was thought of as quite “ordinary”, as it was and continues to be the most planted grape in Italy’s Piemonte zone. It was a light and tart red wine used to wash down the decadent local foods of the region before moving on to the much more highly regarded wines based on the Nebbiolo grape.  But as Master of Wine Jancis Robinson says, “no grape has known such a dramatic upgrade in its fortunes and image in the last 20 years than Barbera in Piemonte, north-west Italy.”  Growers have learned that by placing their Barbera vines in warmer, better exposed sites and by keeping their yields on the lower end of the spectrum, one can produce a wine with more concentrated, sweeter flavors.  Still, the grape tends to have moderate to high levels of acidity and low tannin, so many producers choose to mature their wines in oak casks which serves to add some oak tannin, to round out the acidity and to add additional flavor to the wine.

These days, producers in the communes of Asti and Alba are responsible for the best Barberas in the world.  For this Friday’s tasting we’ll taste the whole stylistic range of Barbera from light, fresh and red fruited to full, concentrated and darker fruited.  Even better, the tasting is free and the wines we’ll pour will be discounted the day of the tasting.  Join us as we explore the wonderful world of Barbera this Friday at Table Wine.  Below are the wines we’ll be sampling out:

1. 2010 Dacapo Barbera d’Asti “Sanbastian”
Classic Barbera here!  Certified organic, certified “farmer juice”, this is medium bodied, fresh and uber clean, with an abundance of charming red fruit notes complimented by notes of wet dirt and forest floor.  If you like simple, pleasing Red Burgundy, you should like this.

2. 2011 Fuso Barbera
Fuso is about as natural as a wine can get.  It’s organic, it’s unfined, it’s unfiltered, it’s made with a wild yeast fermentation, it’s even Vegan friendly!  From the Colli Tortonesi zone, just north of Asti, this is fresh and bright like wine #1, but it does have some slightly darker fruit notes.  Think raspberry, plum and just a “juicy juice” character that will make this appealing to many.

3. 2011 Paitin Barbera d’Alba “Serra”
Stop smiling because we’re getting serious here……………just kidding.  The Pasquero family entered the wine biz in 1796 and they’re going stronger than ever.  This is their entry level Barbera, but there’s nothing entry level about it.  Aged for 12 months in French barrique, this is dark, intense and absolutely impressive.  Concentrated blueberry and blackberry fruit team up with exotic spice and vanilla notes in this sexy, seductive red wine.