Monday, December 8, 2014

Carlin de Paolo Trio from Italy's Piedmont

In our last post we discussed a wine from Italy's south--Sicily, to be exact. Now we move to Piemonte, in the Northwest. Colorado-based Curious Cork Imports sent us these wines for our consideration.

Carlin de Paolo produced this trio of wines made from Arneis and Nebbiolo. All of these wines are available on [For a completely irrelevant aside, take a look at this article about Verrua Savoia, also in the Piedmont, and the internet woes that plague all of Italy. How fortunate that Carlin de Paolo has a website!]

First up, the Arneis. What? You have not heard of Arneis? That is the shame of too many timid American producers, who could do wonders with this grape but find it easier to keep making the varieties they think you want.

Arneis with Fig Tree

Once again drawing on the authoratative Wine Grapes (Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz, eds., Ecco), we'll let them tell you that Arneis is "Piemonte's scented and full-bodied signature dry white...... According to local tradition, Arneis used to be planted together with Nebbiolo to attract birds with its strong flavour, thus protecting Nebbiolo, which had .. a better market value..... The wines are generally unoaked, subtly fruit-scented, full-bodied and tasting of ripe pears...." (p. 54).

The 2012 Arneis from Carlin de Paolo lists for $17.99 at and weighs in at 13% alcohol. We found it to be pale gold, with muted aromas and hints of grapefruit rind. The wine has a medium body with a juicy finish. We detected hints of citrus and dried flowers, such as chamomile. The wine has a very pleasant texture and we enjoyed hints of thyme and tarragon. This wine is refreshing and interesting, but mostly a quaffer. We recommend using it as an aperitif or serving it with a light pasta (perhaps with saffron), pork chop, chicken saltimbocca or even chicken salad. We enjoyed it with pan-sauteed salmon with couscous and sauteed broccoli.

The next two Carlin de Paolo wines were both made from the Nebbiolo grape. Held in the same esteem as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo is one of the few Italian grapes we do not think should be more widely planted in California. For every stellar example from California--scratch that; the only one we've enjoyed from California was the excellent version produced by Lone Madrone. The grape belongs in Piemonte.

There it produces three broad categories: Barolo and Barbaresco, and Langhe for everything that doesn't grow in those two delimited areas. But wait a minute, what about this Terre Alfieri DOC? It was new to me before receiving these wines.

Terre Alfieri was established in 2009 and consists of all of 42 acres (17 hectares over there). Small potatoes. It was recognized for its quality but is so small we wonder who organized the recognition. The Arneis discussed above also hails from that DOC.
Nebbiolo siblings

The bottle on the right is the Terre Alfieri bottling, with the Barolo on the left. The 2010 Carlin de Paolo Nebbiolo Terre Alfieri is all of $18.99 at

We found it to be a clear maroon (such color is typical of Nebbiolo), with aromas of fresh leather (rawhide, not Brettanomyces), cocoa powder and roasted coffee bean. It is smooth and serious on the palate. The tannins are ample but fine and the wine has a long finish. Subtle fruit notes include cherry, raspberry, and blackberry. It should open up with decanting or further bottle age. It is a very pretty wine.

That brings us to the Barolo! While Barolo can be found for under $40, that is a rare thing, and with good reasons. The rules of the DOCG (that must be followed to put Barolo on the label) require serious aging, for one thing.

The Carlin de Paolo 2009 Barolo is available for $39.99 at Perhaps. The 2008 is, anyway. We don't see the 2009 listed.

As suggested above, Barolo spends an eternity in the producer's cellar before being released, and then can seem to need an eternity in the consumer's cellar before it is ready to drink. With that in mind, we evaluated the wine upon opening, then evaluated after a 45 minute wait and a double decantation (bottle to decanter and back to bottle), and then revisited the wine a few hours after that. Here is the play-by-play.

On initial uncorking: brick red in color (more red than the maroon of the Terre Alfieri, above), tight on the nose and palate. Present but smooth tannins. Long finish with spice and grip. Needs to open.

After 45 minutes and double decanting: color unchanged. More generous on nose and palate. Subtle fruit. Cherry, blackberry. A lot of spice box: cedar, sandalwood, a hint of clove. Flowers: violet and rose petal. Bitter chocolate. Formidable. Complex. Probably has much more to offer with time in bottle and more time in decanter.

Later still. Richer and more complex. Good acidity. Great complexity. Still fruit-shy. Tannins holding in there but not overwhelming.

We enjoyed this wine very much. It would pair well with any simply roasted meat, but we enjoyed it with a pasta with caramelized cabbage, anchovies and bread crumbs, a recipe we discovered in the New York Times. We hope you enjoy it, too!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Siciliana Nero d'Avola 2013

We were recently delighted to be contacted by Colorado's Curious Cork Imports. They graciously offered to send some wines from their portfolio for our review. The wines they sent are available via, which means they are available just about everywhere in the US. It can certainly be frustrating to hear great things about an imported wine only to be unable to find it anywhere. In this post we'll discuss the Nero d'Avola from Siciliana. Stay tuned for a post on three wines from Carlin de Paolo, in the Piedmont.

A lovely fall bottle on a lovely fall day

The Siciliana 2013 Nero d'Avola sells for $12.99 on The grape variety, Nero d'Avola, has been growing in prominence of late, and for good reason. It is a grape that can thrive in the Sicilian heat while still producing wines of great color and structure. It is usually quite affordable as well. Pretty hard to beat.

Long term readers of this blog will recognize Nero d'Avola as a grape that I have championed for California. I believe that it would tolerate the heat and dry conditions of California's Central Valley and produce much better wine than most of the more popular varieties grown there now. Merlot, for instance, can produce outstanding wines, but not when it is grown in a very hot, very dry climate.

In the expensive-but-worth-every-penny Wine Grapes (Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz, eds., Ecco) Nero d'Avola is said to most likely hail from... you guessed it, Avola, in the Siracusa province on Sicily. They say that it is Sicily's most planted variety and that the wines are known for color, fullness of body, and the ability to age. "At its best, Nero d'Avola produces wines that have a wild plum and sweet chocolate character, high levels of tannins, and decent acidity" (p 724).

So if you have not yet tried a Nero d'Avola, we strongly encourage you to seek one out. And why not this one? It is a classic example. We found it to be bright ruby in the glass and quite aromatic. The wine comes across as somewhat one-dimensional on the palate but 6 months to a year more in bottle should give it time to open up. It is tightly wound with bright acidity and soft tannins. This wine would be a perfect accompaniment to tomato-based foods such as pizza or pasta, or with rich foods such as salumi or other cured meats.

If you do try it, we would love to know what you think.
Wine Blogger Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.