It’s been a busy few weeks but we have still been able to fit in a few visits to our neighbours either because we have tasted wines we like or through introductions by friends. We have also been trying to decide on suitable wines for our daughter’s wedding in August which is an almost impossible task with so many considerations like taste, price, appearance and the capacity of some of our family and friends. No names, but having decided to put the same number of bottles on each table, requests to be seated with non-drinkers is scary.Having featured (blind) in our top choices at Barbaresco a Tavola for the past 2 years it was time to visit Manera in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, the smallest and least known commune of Barbaresco. For many years the family sold their production to bigger producers but the latest generation started bottling their own product just a few years ago. The enthusiastic Carlo, who left Oenological College just 5 years ago, greeted us and after a quick tour of the small cantina we settled down to enjoy the wines. They are still finding their way and to encourage sales they price their wines very competitively.
At just €4 they offer a pretty floral Favorita with good acidity to be drunk over the next couple of years, a straightforward Dolcetto that is not over fruity and a Barbera that had sold out: all 2010. For just €1 more the Barbera Superiore 2009, aged in 2nd passage barrique for a year, had a dark, brooding tar nose with good balance, acidity and decent length. Again at €5 the Langhe Nebbiolo 2009was classic cherry with spicy hints, lightly oaked but easy drinking with light tannins. We already knew we liked the Barbaresco 2008 and that was confirmed, beautiful red berries and soft tannins. In fact at €15 a definite candidate for the party and at €25 for magnums an order was imminent! The clincher was Carlo’s offer to provide personalised labels. He produced a range of options and having sent pictures to our daughter and her fiancé they have made their choice. and we await the printer’s proof. It’s very young and we hope the guests enjoy the dryness imparted by the tannins as much as we do.
It’s also worth knowing if you fancy trying their wine, that they have a stall every Saturday at il Mercato della Terra in Piazza Pertinace in Alba and they also sell white truffles in November so we will stay well in touch.
One of our friends who lives in Starderi arranged a visit toTraversa who have 2 locations: a comfortable Agriturismo below the Borgetta among the vineyards and the Cantina in Canova (between Coazzolo and Neive) where we started the tour. Franco has a great philosophy that we wish we didn’t agree with viz. “Drinking only counts when you’re out. Drinking does not include wine with dinner at home!”.
The Cantina sits atop the brow of the hill with fantastic views of Neive on one side and Coazzolo on the other. Having toured the Cantina we forewent the intimate tasting room and moved on for a tour of the rooms in the Agriturismo. There are 11 rooms including 2 suites that can sleep 4 that are let out at a very reasonable €80 or €90 for the suites. it is a great , quiet location and with a pool. We loved the simple pink fizz (Brio Rosato Spumante) made from 100% nebbiolo and just €6. This was the first vintage and it had only been bottled 3 weeks before after a slow 4 month fermentation. It was light, fresh and fruity and cried out for strawberries or any summer fruit. The order is in as my daughter loves the butterfly label which will apparently match the bunting she has created for the outdoor ceremony. There is a good range of wines from Arneis (slightly frizzante), a couple of straightforward Barbera d’Alba’s to an elegant, balanced Babaresco produced from 70 year vines that are reaching the end of their life. All the pretty labels on the wine were drawn by Franco’s father.