Before the eagerly awaited lunch (I had enjoyed a similar starter at the Manzone meal in March), a tasting of 2010 Barbaresco and 2009 Barolo. Fortunately I was one of the first to arrive but within minutes there were 25 people, mostly male, crowding round a small table with a dozen or so wines to try before we sat down around 12.30. Not much time to savour the subtle nuances of a dozen young Nebbiolos.
Indeed, one seasoned Nebbophile later commented that it was, perhaps, too much even for him - his actual comment was "I must admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the volume of wines - for all my love of Nebbiolo, in the end I felt myself craving for some variety, even though interestingly clear differences were visible. I think I'm a wimp!"
For some reason a Roero had been allowed to slip through, the incredibly young 2011 from Filippo Gallino. It smells of Roero rather than Barbaresco or Barolo but seemed to have some volatile acidity and should probably have been saved for another day. For now, the 2009 will do for me,
Otherwise, there were a couple of new names but I was pleased to find that the Nada Giuseppe 2010 'Casot' and Cascina Saria 2010 'Colle del Gelso' outshone all others, the former typically forward. The Grasso Fratelli 2010 showed good promise too but was a little sweet at present (but, given that we still have the 2001, this is clearly a baby).
The Barolo wines were, almost without exception, too closed to assess properly although I did find that, as I had to spit everything out and because of the crowd around the table, I was holding samples in my mouth for rather longer as the tasting session continued. This meant the wines were opening up inside, a rather odd sensation. Fenocchio's 2009 Barolo 'Bussia' was the one I enjoyed most here.
Onto the lunch itself and a first starter of raviolo of suckling pig with turnip, crisp secretto and roasting juices (fabulous although the similar raviolo we had in March had the edge) which was paired with Gallino's Roero Arneis, a white with a sweet fragrance that worked well with the pork.
The second starter was a delicious boudin of pheasant with pearl barley, chanterelles and chestnuts which, on our table was paired with a mature Langhe Nebbiolo (2006) from Nagiurna, new to me but one to investigate (where will it all end?) and a magnificent, if youthful Barbaresco "Pora" 2008 from the superb cooperative, Prodottori del Barbaresco.
A glazed short rib and croustillant of beef with marrow, scorched onions and field mushroom was served with my 2009 Barbaresco from Nada Giuseppe (I had meant to take the 2007 Riserva but in my haste to grab a bottle the night before, pulled out the wrong box) and a 2005 from Cascina Saria which was showing very well for a vintage which was less easy than any since then.
An Italian cheese course (Robiola, Taleggio and a Toma - can't remember which one) provided the best wine matching of all though when served with Barolo "Brunate" 2006 from Francesco Rinaldi and Barolo Riva 2007 from Claudio Alario.
As usual, a great meal and good to catch up with some increasingly familiar faces.