The recent travel chaos caused by Eyjafjallajökull – no, I can’t pronounce it either – meant that my fellow blogger and Barbera 7 colleague Cory Cartwright was stranded in London for several days before being able to return home after almost two months on the road.
We arranged to meet and had dinner at my local curry restaurant Hot Stuff, in Wilcox Road SW8 where My Beautiful Laundrette was filmed in 1985. (Wilcox Road can be seen at 5:38 in this clip – it hasn’t changed!)
Hot Stuff is unlicensed so operates a BYO/no corkage policy. The food (and company) is great so I usually take along some bottles that otherwise might not be opened in a hurry.
Cory and I started with a 2004 Juve y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva Cava. Let’s face it, most Cava is filthy – and old Cava is even filthier than that. But this was really good, still fresh and lively, and about as rich and complex as Cava can ever be.
A couple of weeks ago I received some samples from a Barbera producer that I had been interviewing via e-mail for an article on Barbera d’Asti. His answers to my queries had been as forthright and unapologetic as his performance that snowy night in Nizza. Nonetheless, he generously offered to send me a few bottles to retaste.
I made sure not to look at my tasting notes from the Barbera Meeting 2010 and to try the wines with Cory and some good food, unprejudiced by previous experiences. We opened the elegant, albeit rather heavy, bottle and poured some Barbera d’Asti into our glasses. We sniffed… and nearly puked. The wine might as well have been labelled as vinegar, so appallingly high was the acetic acidity. We dared not try it again for fear of further upsetting our appetites.
We opened the Nizza bottling. Mercifully, it was not over-oaked and had a relatively pleasing texture but again it reeked of acetic acidity. These two bottles, or at least the first one, were completely unacceptable as wines made to be purchased and drunk.
I am saddened that the owner of this estate – by all accounts a distinguished man – genuinely believes that he is making “wines of excellence”. Indeed, at the Nizza meeting he shouted back at somebody who had the temerity to question the use of oak with Barbera, ““Do you know anything, anything at all, about wine?”
To paraphrase Kipling, what should they know of Barbera who only Barbera know?