Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Back to Navarra!

This week I finally had the chance to try the last of the three wines from Navarra that I was sent to sample. The wine in question is a 2008 Piedemonte (more on that later) Tempranillo-Garnacha.

When I first opened the box that these samples came in, I saw Piedemonte and thought "Umm why was I sent a Nebbiolo?", before my higher brain functions reasserted themselves. After doing more reading (and thinking), I realized this was in fact from Navarra and perhaps through some twist of fate just happened to have a name that's very close to my favorite wine producing region of Italy.

I've reviewed two wines from Navarra in previous blogs, here and here. Both were good, one was very good. I had high hopes for the Piedemonte as well, especially since I usually enjoy Tempranillo-based blends. The 2008 Piedemonte is a blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha. After spending some time in oak barrels, this wine spent a few more months in bottle before being released upon the world.

Right away I liked the color, like garnet with an orangish hue, tres cool! There's a definite transition in the color density as you move outwards within the glass. Something I've often noticed in blends versus single varietal wines.

I enjoyed the nose though it seemed a bit muted. There were some ripe berries and earth, with oak making an appearance. Maybe a hint of graphite too, right at the end. Certainly intriguing but did anything captivate me? Yes and no, the oak and berry scents were to be expected, considering the two varietals in this wine. The flash of graphite, though fleeting, was fascinating to me and certainly added a dimension I hadn't expected.

After spending an hour sans cork (or is it corque?!) I took a few sips to get some impressions before I paired the Piedemonte with some pork tamales. At first, the fruit seemed to race out ahead of the other flavors, but with some time in the glass, things settled down and each flavor seemed to find it's place. Ripe red cherries, hints of spices and a woody flavor were framed by smooth tannins. I enjoyed the concentration of flavors, and was pleased to find the pencil lead flavors on the finish, just as I had when smelling the wine.

Where does that leave me then? I was torn, the Piedemonte wasn't bad wine by any means but it didn't "wow" me either. Sure, I found some interesting elements that caused me to stop and think. But did the wine as a whole have that certain sense of finesse, elegance, place or some other quality that would make it very good to exceptional? Tonight, the Piedemonte was a good wine, well deserving a B- and a BUY recommendation. While it won't blow you away, it's fundamentally a wine with enough fine points to separate it from the pack.

This wine was a sample for review purposes

Beau Carufel

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