A Tasting of Travaglini Giancarlo Nebbiolo Wines

Today I was fortunate to be invited by Saverio Schiralli Agencies Ltd here in Vancouver to taste some Nebbiolo wines produced by Travaglini Giancarolo. The wines today are their Travaglini Gattinara wines. Gattinara being a particular region in the Piedmont with acidic porphyry soils, producing a lighter bodied wine. Some are currently available in BC, and some were brought in from Italy, esp from the winery for this tasting.

Nebbiolo is a beautiful and a powerful grape that grows in the Piedmont region of Italy. The name “Nebbiolo” is thought come from the Piedmontese word nebbia which means “fog.” The Nebbiolo grape is harvested in October, which is generally foggy.

I call the Nebbiolo the other “heartbreak” grape, alongside Pinot Noir. Both have very thin skins and are very hard to grow. The Nebbiolo though needs I think warmer weather to ripen well. The Nebbiolo grape has high acidity and tannins, which make them hard to drink when first bottled, but give them time to age, and they evolve into a wonderful wine, with aromas and flavours of roses, violets, cherries, strawberries, cedar, flowers, tobacco, and more!

In today’s tasting, we had 4 non-riserva wines, and a vertical tasting of 4 Gattinara Riserva DOCG wines from the 2004 / 2001 / 1999 / and 1995 vintages.

Two of the non-riserva wines that I particularly liked was the Coste della Sesia DOC 2007, and the Gattinara DOCG 2005. The Coste della Sesia is a spec wine in stock. It retails for $26.99. The Gattinara DOCG is arriving in BC in late October 2010 (sorry no pricing yet, but the 2004 vintage was $36.99)

The Coste della Sesia DOC 2007 was light garnet / orange in the glass. Mushroom, strawberry and some spice on the nose. Light body, with vanilla, cherries and strawberry flavours. Very smooth / light tannins. I think I’d enjoy this very much with a pasta with tomato sauce.

The Gattinara DOCG 2005 was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length. Quite elegant.

For the Riserva level of wines in Italy, the wines must be aged 3 years in oak and then 1 year in the bottle before being released for sale by law. The Riserva line for Travaglini Giancarlo are released 5 years after vintage.

Being provided a vertical of Nebbiolo is rare and I very much appreciated it, as Nebbiolo can take many years before the tannins tone down. Also not every year will there be a Riserva level wine produced. It is only when the winemaker feels that the vintage warrants that level of wine.

My favorite of the vertical was the Gattinara DOCG Riserva 1999. 11 years since vintage, till it was poured in my glass. This wine was specially sent from the winery for this tasting, and is not available to purchase here. But if you purchase the 2004 or 2001 vintage here in BC, you can get a glimpse here of what to expect as the wine evolves.

The Gattinara DOCG 1999 Riserva was medium plus garnet in colour in the glass. Earthy, tarry, cherry, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, spicy, with cherry, strawberry and vanilla flavors. Smooth and silky tannins with a long dry finish. Truly exceptional. I rated the 2004 and 2001 as both being very good. The 2004 had pomegranate, red cherry and slight oak on the nose. Medium body, firm yet silky tannins. Plum, cherries and vanilla flavours. The 2001 was pale garnet with faint bricking colour in the glass. Light nose with cherries, strawberries and vanilla. Very fruity flavoured with ripe strawberries and cherries and light oak. Medium bodied, with smooth firm tannins. Long length.

That’s all for now. Maybe when you are next going out for dinner, try a nebbiolo instead of a sangiovese. Enjoy!