Monday, May 30, 2011

Washington Barbera v. Italy

The Giro d' Italia wrapped up this week with some grueling mountain passes and mountain top finishes in Nothern Italy.  The overall race lead has been squarely in the pocket of Alberto Contador for the past 2 weeks.  The riders have still been battling for second and third place and stage victories so the racing has still been exciting.  Following the Giro route to the North, this week's match pits a Washington state Barbera against Italy.

Washington State Barbera from the Wahluke Slope  v. Piedmont

Tranche Cellars 2006 Barbera v.  2007 Azienda Agricol Reverdito Michele Barbera D'Alba Butti

Tale of the tape

2006 Tranche Cellars Barbera

Barbera from the Northridge and Sagemoor vineyards in Wahluke Slope AVA.  Tranche Cellars is one of Mike Corliss' wineries.  Their website is nice enough to tell you Tranche means "slice" or "share."  Unfortunately, it might as well mean mystery since they do not share any more information about their wines.  Corliss implies a top notch pedigree, but this Luchador goes into the match as a bit of a mystery.  Purchased from Full Pull wines for 17.99

2007 Michele Reverdito Barbera

100% Barbera from Piedmont D'Alba Butti D.O.C.  If you can read Italian you will be able to unravel the mystery of our Italian combatant.
Purchased for $27.50 at Bin 41 - Thanks for helping me make the Luchador selections again this week.

This is certainly a week for mystery.  Let the Barbera Battle begin!

Round 1.  First Opening:

On first opening the Tranche Cellars has a nose of warm red fruit, coffee and a hint of pepper.  The palate has red fruit, tart cedar and coffee bean with a dry finish that repeats the notes of coffee bean.

The Michele Reverdito has a nose of sweet and sour cherry with a bit of spiciness.  The palate is dry with lots of red brambly fruit and a tart bramble berry finish.

These luchadors are very closely matched, both showing promise right from the beginning. 

Round 1 is too close to call.  Half a point to each of these mysterious foes.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Tranche is really building some power - the nose is showing rich dark fruit and currant character with a palate of currant, black cherry and coffee with a bit of menthol that ushers in a big finish of cocoa and spice intermingled with dark stone fruit.

The Reverdito is stepping up, but not quite to the level of the Tranche.  The nose is developing floral notes with big bright cherry.  The palate is showing similar notes of big chewy cherry and cedar baking spice that leads into a finish that is just slightly tart with cinnamon and clove spices.

Round 2 is another close one.  Both luchadors are showing their strength.  Reverdito is big and bright.  Tranche is big and bold.  A very slight edge to Tranche winning round 2 for bringing a bigger and bolder attack into the ring for this round.

Round 3. One day later

The Tranche Cellars entrant is still going strong with a nose that is now showing leather, coffee, peat, currant and spice box.  The palate is lush and velvety with currant the dominant characteristic that still shows the bit of menthol before moving on to a dry tart cedar red fruit finish.

The Reverdito has added some more power to its repertoire.  The nose is bolder with currant and logan berry spice and a bit of mineral.  The palate is displaying similar notes of currant and dark berries with some cocoa that finishes with notes of semi-sweet chocolate.

These combatants have both held up under pressure and their form is showing one day later.  Both have continued to develop and are showing some new skillz in the final round.

Round 3 is another close call and goes to the Italian challenger for upping the ante.  It wasn't by much, but enough to finish with a flourish and leave us with a dead even bout.  Each luchador having earned 1 1/2 points. 

Wrap up and over all observations

I'm not sure how I feel about having a bout end in a draw.  I can't find anything to fault either one of this week's contestants.  With a nod to Italian style, Mario Cipollini and the Giro d'Italia I am awarding 1/2 a point for style to the Reverdito for their label which easily outdistances the Tranche Cellars label in the style department.

After exercising my rights as the event organizer to apply arbitrary rules the Reverdito finishes this bout on top by the slimmest of margins having gained the edge with an additional point awarded for style.  Final score: Reverdito 2, Tranche 1 1/2

I rate both of these wines an 88. 

This match was frustrating from an informational perspective.  Much like a Lucha Libre match, both combatants stepped into the wrestling ring with an air of mystery.  Hiding their true character behind their wrestling masks.  Unraveling the mystery of these wines as they evolved over time was fun.  It was also a great introduction to the Barbera grape for me.

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