Sunday, August 31, 2008


I have been a big Italian disciple ever since I crossed paths with Eric Jerardi, a fantastic blues guitarist who happens to run one of the coolest wine shops in Ohio called Jerardi’s Little Store. I did a stint at the store after fleeing the restaurant biz, and Eric was quick to show me just what Italy had to offer in the world of wine, which at the time, in my naïveté, proved vast.
One particular region that caught me and left me dumbstruck was Barbaresco, and one specific producer has become one of my dearest faves – Moccagatta. I have tried several vintages and have a few tucked away in my “cellar.” Though Moccagatta has three different single-vineyard Barbarescos (Basarin, Cole and Bric Balin), I have focused on what is considered the jewel of the three – the Bric Balin.

Started in 1952 by Mario Minuto, sons Francesco and Sergio continue with a small 11 hectare estate that focuses on Nebbiolo (though they do have small lots of Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa and Chardonnay).

Looking back on my tasting notes, I wanted to present a “virtual” vertical tasting, using wines from my own cellar as well as the most recent vintages we have available in the store. So here it goes:

Moccagatta Bric Balin 1995 ($NA, tasted sometime in 2002): Gorgeous, well-structured, with notes of baked cherries, dried herbs, graphite and dark chocolate. Earthy tones with slightly floral nose. Beautiful, medium-bodied.

Moccagatta Bric Balin 1997 ($NA, tasted winter 2007): More concentrated than the 2005, from what I remember. Medium-to-full bodied, with oily black and red fruit, baking spices, dried herbs and cedar.

Moccagatta Bric Balin 1998 ($NA, tasted winter 2007): Surprisingly intact, I was fearful after reading the review that this was supposed to be past its prime. Medium-bodied, with spicy black fruit, tobacco and smoke. Supple tannins, and a really nice finish.

Moccagatta Bric Balin 2001 ($NA, tasted winter 2006): May have pulled the trigger early on this one. Much more massive than past Bric Balins I’ve tasted. Lush, opulent black fruit, loads of spicy oak, cedar, cigar box and earth tones. Gorgeous!

Moccagatta Bric Balin 2003 ($48.98, tasted Spring 2008): Young. Showing off almost-sludgy black fruit, tar, cigar smoke and Provencal herbs. Tannins are pretty big. Needs time to settle down.

Moccagatta Bric Balin 2004 ($52.99, tasted July 2008): Very young. Tightly-woven notes of herbs and spices, with lots of juicy black and red berry fruit flavors, hints of cedar and spicy oak, with well-integrated tannins. Needs considerable time in the bottle.

If you ever have the opportunity to try one of these wines, treat yourself. It will be worth it!

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