Gimme Ghemme

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Richard’s Toraccia del Piantavigna 2003 was part of a special case of older Piedmont wines put together by the Wine Society. They sold out very quickly and a positive reviews from a Society member was quick in coming. Therefore, a wine, we thought, worth trying. And it was.

Made from 90% Nebbiolo with 10% Vespolina (a local grape famed for attracting (or not) wasps – not scooters – because of its high sugar content) this was a delight. Definitely brown in colour, with little viscosity and only medium intensity, this shouted “Drink me!”. The nose took some time to develop its sweet red fruit aromas (Richard thought ‘spirity’) but it stayed gently floral, though not necessarily violets which is the classic Nebbiolo nose. There was a fair weight in the wine and certainly tannins but the dominant flavour for me was the stewed red fruits showing some bottle age. It finished long and dry.

The 10% Vespolina must have contributed to the sweetness of the wine, thereby possibly helping moderate the more drying tannins of the Nebbiolo. It was certainly an attractive mouthful.

We’d tried a mono-varietal Vespolina (DOC Colline Novaresi) minutes before and found it an attractive, though simple, wine of medium tannins. There is another wasp-attracting grape, Vespaiola from the Veneto, and both grapes have declined in popularity since the Phylloxera crisis. These bloody insects get everywhere!

[Richard: six different vintages of a poor man’s Barolo seemed worth a punt. This was the oldest, around £20, and a bargain. Pure and tasty, it improved through the evening and could have usefully been decanted. And you wait ages to taste an obscure Italian red grape and two come along at once. The Villa Roncati (WS £13) was opened on a Thursday, thought too full-on and re-corked. It improved and softened every the next few days. Peppery with an herbaceous nose, well balanced. Don’t think I’d buy it again but it was an interesting drink.]

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