Next time you're in the wine shop
trying to choose a really beautiful bottle from Italy, just
remember the letter B.
You might have heard wine connoisseurs speak about the three Bs -
Brunello, Barolo, and Barbaresco, three of the best and priciest
Italian appellations. Is it just a coincidence that they all happen
to start with B, or is Bacchus trying to tell us something?
Brunello, the Tuscan member of the trio, is a Sangiovese-based
wine. The Brunello grape is a localized clone of Sangiovese that
thrives in the vineyards of Montalcino. The word means "brownish,"
from the tawny color of the grape skins. Some of the Supertuscan
upstarts - Tuscan wines made with foreign (i.e., French) grapes
such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - have tried to topple the
venerable Brunello from its throne in recent decades, but they've
only managed to nudge it slightly aside. Brunello is here to
Unlike Sangiovese, which has had moderate success outside Italy,
the Nebbiolo grape doesn't travel well. Fans of Barolo and
Barbaresco have tried transplanting Nebbiolo to California, to
Argentina, and to Australia to make New World wines in the style of
Barolo and Barbaresco. So far, the experiments have been about as
successful as trying to make foie gras out of chopped liver.
Nebbiolo's true home is Piedmont, and the grapes seem to know
Brunello, Barolo, and Barbaresco are magnificent with food.
(They're also great gifts: I'm sending a bottle of each to my
attorneys, Bunkum, Bilkem, and Basham.) Here are three of my recent
PODERI COLLA 1996 DARDI LE ROSE BAROLO,
Tradition is a big factor in Italian winemaking, with family