Piedmont can make a very strong argument for being Italy’s greatest as well as its most diverse wine region. This is a place that is sub-divided into larger growing zones: Northern Piedmont, Monferrato, Astigiano, and the area from which this evening’s wine emanates Le Langhe. All of these overarching zones are further segmented into more specific D.O.C.G.’s, D.O.C.’s and I.G.T.’s, but the last area – Le Langhe – is the patch of earth that incontrovertibly contains Piedmont’s “rock star” designations: Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, and the two Nebbiolo grape based giants, Barolo and Barbaresco.
But like any other wide-ranging, world class wine region, there are more than a couple of “under the radar” appellations that deserve more attention than they are ever likely to get, and Roero might be in the pole position when viewed on these terms. There are two factors that make this appellation great and quite different from its neighbors to which it will inevitably compared and these hinge on topography. Roero is Barbaresco’s immediate neighbor to the north, and what goes for Barbaresco goes double for Roero, and for this wino, that’s a great thing. Barbaresco and Roero, which are both situated on the “left” bank of the Tanaro river, are climatically cooler, set on profoundly sandier soils and steeper slopes than the flatter geography and denser clay and limestone earth on which Barolo wines are raised. So if Barolo wines are the most powerful, intense and brooding expression of the great Nebbiolo grape within The Langhe, Roero is the most feminine,elegant and fresh.
The menu I put together with this really lovely Nebbiolo-based wine began with a butternut squash, pea, and rosemary risotto, followed up with pork chops braised with cream, rose` wine, tomatoes, two kinds of ‘shrooms, and sage with shredded and sauteed Brussels sprouts with chopped walnuts on the side.
Azienda Agricola Giuseppe Parussa Roero Rosso 2011
Slightly brownish garnet color with hints of black. Very clean and pretty nose of black raspberry, black cherry, red grapefruit nectar, toasted bread, frankincense, brown spices, dusty earth, dried wildflowers, bacon, and a hint of cows’ milk cheese. The palate of the wine is medium-full in weight, with elegantly rustic and wiry but perfectly polished tannins with flavors of red plum, grilled peaches, tomato paste, black licorice, cocoa, and wet stones with a fantastic overall balance. The finish is smooth, warm, long, tart and fresh. Great stuff.