Sunday, December 06, 2009

2004 Travaglini GATTINARA (Piemonte, Italy)

A decently-made Nebbiolo from a long-underachieving appellation in northern Piemonte. Unlike many of its more expensive and prestigious neighbors to the south in the Barolo and Barbaresco DOC, whose growers have all seemed to have changed over to a bland, no-doubt-technologically-sound modern method of making Nebbiolo based wines that strip Nebbiolo of the characterisitics that made it great, you can actually discern -- if you concentrate -- that this wine was made from the Nebbiolo grape.

From the region where Nebbiolo is locally called "Spanna" near the city of Turin, Gattinara used to be an amazing wine in the hands of long-gone masters such as Antonio Vallana, and the still-around-but-resting-on-its-laurels house of Luigi Dessilani. Travaglini has never been at the pinnacle of Gattinara producers, but was usually a dependable if unexciting wine. I think the fact that good Gattinaras are so rare in this country may have made me a bit more lenient in my assessment than usual, but anyway . . .

Medium-light ruby garnet. Somewhat shy nose of smoky, earthy, winey dried cherries. Has a weightiness in the mouth that contrasts with its light color and shy nose. Not a lot of initial, upfront fruit, but building weight in the cherry skins, minerally, peppery finish. A fair amount of tannin coats the mouth, but I wouldn't wait for it to drop out because I think this wine is fairly advanced in its evolution. 86. Was $24.99 on sale at Randall's on Weslayan. Imported by Palm Bay Imports.


Iron Chevsky said...

Would love to get more of your comments on the top Gattinara producers. Also, do you generally see Gattinara vintages match Barolo/Barbaresco in quality (i.e. 2001 and 2004 - great)?

Tom Casagrande said...

I have not traveled to Italy in decades, unfortunately, so my opinions are based solely on what is available in the U.S. And what is available in the U.S. is a mere shadow of what used to be. I simply know of no producers in this region whose current wines I would consider to be worthy of the prices asked. It's a shame. As for the vintage question, my impression is that there is a general correlation between the vintage quality in the two areas, but occasionally there are some differences. But where the producers are churning out diluted, soul-less wine, vintages don't really matter.