Ca' del Baio is a family-owned winery in the Piedmont region of Italy. The winery was started by Luigi Grasso around 1950, and last Wednesday (May 19th) two of Luigi's great-granddaughters, Paola and Valentina, were right here in River City pouring some of their latest releases. The tasting was held at Luc, and chef Ian Hutchings prepared small appetizer plates to complement the wines. Four Barbarescos and one Barbera were offered.
First up was the 2007 Barbera d'Alba "Paolina" (currently at Avalon for $14.95). Aromas of red cherry and blackberry are coupled with a rich mouthfeel, brisk acidity and a peppery minerality. Soft tannins make this one a good choice for current drinking, and it would work well with pizza, pasta with red sauce, and grilled beef or pork ribs.
The next four wines were all Barbarescos. Like Barolo, these are made from the Nebbiolo grape, traditionally the basis for Italy's best wines. The first to be poured was the 2006 Pianrosa (suggested retail $30), a blend from several different vineyards. This offered aromas of red cherry and red licorice, was smooth with a medium body and surprisingly soft tannins, and would be another good choice for current drinking.
The next three were all vineyard bottlings, the first being the 2006 Valgrande ($33.95 at Avalon). Mild fruit aromas were mingled with spicy oak, and it seemed a bit dry on the palate, with medium tannins. Much better was the 2006 Marcarini ($36.95). A polished nose of black cherry with hints of chocolate is followed by a rich, smooth palate presence. The tannins are not overly aggressive, but still firm enough to need a few years to soften. We decided to buy two of these to tuck away in the cellar for a few years.
We also liked the 2006 Asili (also $36.95). This was similar to the Marcarini except for being a little more acidic. It also seemed to open a little quicker, and I think a bottle decanted and allowed to breath for 30-45 minutes would make for acceptable current drinking, which would not be the case with the Marcarini.
All in all, a nice set of wines, though a step behind last year's offerings (the 2005 Asili was awesome). Only space considerations prevented the purchase of a couple of the Barberas and a couple of the Asili, and if these are still available in a month or so (after we've managed to knock off some of our current stock), I'm sure we'll be buying some of the Barbera.