Saturday, May 31, 2014

WA Nebbiolo v. Barbaresco

Last week featured an Italian wine lover's dream stage in the Giro d'Italia.  A point to point time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo.  Are you kidding me?  You would have to time me with a calendar if I was doing THAT time trial!

Of course, the pros are paid to race their bikes so there is no time for hanging out and drinking the excellent Northern Italian wines made from the Nebbiolo grapes available in these two areas within the Piemonte region.

My friend, and occasional Lucha Vino contributor, Richard Foxall hit me up to see if I might want to include a feature on Peimonte wines since he happened to be in the region.  That question lead to the first truly international Lucha Vino challenge.  Richard provides the tasting notes and commentary for the Barbaresco challenger and I provide the counter attack from the Washington Nebbiolo representative.

Cana's Feast 2008 Nebbiolo v. Rivella Serafino  di Rivella Teobaldo Barbaresco Montestefano 2008 

Tale of the Tape

 Cana's Feast 2008 Nebbiolo

100% Nebbiolo from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Purchased for $24 from

Rivella Serafino di Rivella Teobaldo Barbaresco Montestefano 2008 

All nebbiolo (required by appellation rules)
Purchased and consumed at Trattoria Antica Torre, Barbaresco
Approximately 40 Euros

Available at Napa Cabs for about $60 

Round 1.  First opening

The challenger from Barbaresco struts into the ring with the style and swagger you would expect from an Italian Luchador.  The nose already smells of earth and truffles, and some floral elements as well, mostly roses, but this is laid back behind the earthier smells. Surprisingly mature for a wine that can require years to become drinkable. On entry, this is graceful and lightweight, with a silky elegance.  Again, the earth and truffles are present on the palate.  In the mouth it picks up tartness and acids. 

Cana's Feast strikes back with a nose that features dried cherries, light floral spices and dried earthy flowers.  The palate also features dried cherries and tart menthol tinged floral spices that are followed by a finish of dry white pepper and a punchy streak of acidity.

Round 2.  One hour later

The Brute from Barbaresco is bulking up with some tannins. The truffle notes are being filled out with a slightly balsamic taste, as well as something savory and meaty.  The tannins are super smooth and linger in the background, but they contribute to a doesn’t-quit finish that lingers like ringing ears after a wicked body slam.  

The Cana's Feast Nebbiolo is mounting a cunning attack and developing more complexity with a nose that is showing darker dried cherries and floral earthy spices.  The palate is similar with earthy mineral driven tart cherries and light coco and cedar spices that lead into a dry finish topped by floral white pepper.

Round 3.  One day later

The Barbaresco challenger is no where to be found.  It was starting to fade after two hours and never made it to the final round.  After two hours the nose is moving in a slightly medicinal direction, but it’s still light, almost ethereal on the entry.  The tannins are smooth.  The earlier fruits—currants, raspberries—are beginning to fade, but they are being replaced by a candied flower flavor.  

Cana's Feast is showing stamina and staying power.  The nose is bold with rich dried cherries, leather, earthy minerals and cedar tinged white pepper spices.  The palate continues to show dried cherries and floral menthol spices that come to a conclusion with a finish of floral dried herbal spices. 

Cana's Feast is going strong and takes the match by TKO!

Wrap up and overall observations

Not only was Richard in Piemonte, he was actually staying on the TT course.  How lucky is that?!  He was able to snap this photo of Cadel Evans during the Time Trial.  

The Time Trial stage turned out to be Cadel's last day in the Maglia Rosa.  Maybe he should have taken his time and enjoyed the excellent Barolos and Barberescos along the course!

Both of these Nebbiolos hit the spot.  The Cana's Feast had more staying power and was still going strong on day two.  I would definitely recommend seaking out more Italian varities from Cana's Feast.  This Oregon winery is making some really nice wines from Washington grapes.  And, if you want to experience the "real thing" you should certainly make a trip to Piemonte!


  1. Cadel Evans? I was just trying to get a picture of the old farmer who watched the whole stage with a bemused look on his face, especially as the helicopter hovered over the course at the top of the Castiglione Monfaletto hill!

  2. And that Barbaresco was nowhere to be found after six guys finished lunch!