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Last night at the IOD

I have never been tempted by offers of membership of the IOD (Institute of Directors) in the past (although, as a sole trader, this wouldn't apply to BRW) but on arrival there yesterday afternoon, I understood why some find it hard to resist. I saw only the restaurant area but it is a luxurious setting with paintings bigger than most houses' walls. We had been allocated a generous space for tasting wines and enjoying them with dinner afterwards. I don't think any of us realised, though, that 30 wines in an hour with a bit of socialising was never going to happen.

I started with good intentions. I began with the whites: first Fabrizio Battaglino's Roero Arneis then the equivalent wine from Filippo Gallino followed by Nada Giuseppe's Langhe Bianco. The first two were quite similar in style (as was to be expected): very precise and well-defined whereas the Nada has another layer thanks to the blend with Sauvignon and Favorita. Not necessarily any better but different. Enrico Nada had the only rosado so that came next. I have never been a great fan of pink wines (with the odd notable exception) but this was perfectly acceptable (you see, it didn't rock my boat).

I wanted to re-taste a couple of Fabrizio's reds - the straight Nebbiolo d'Alba and the "Colla" (which is entitled to Roero status but which Fabrizio bottles as Nebbiolo d'Alba). I still found the latter wine a little hard (it's a 2008, maybe that's why) but the more simple wine has lovely fruit. Give it another year or two though.

I had, also, to taste a couple of wines from Crissante Alessandria (an estate I have recently become familiar with): in particular the "Ruge" Barbera (stunning) and Barolo Galina (exquisite), both from the forward 2007 vintage. The 2006s are much more tannic so I had every intention of coming back to them before the dinner (optimism blinded me to the fact it was less than half an hour to dinner).

The rest of the tasting session was spent at the Filippo Gallino table (I was going to be sitting with Enrico so would have another opportunity to taste all his wines at dinner). I was immediately struck by the freshness of the fruit-driven Barbera. I worked through all the Barbera wines from this producer (and went back to taste Fabrizio's as well) and in some ways preferred this to the richer, necessarily more complete wines further on. I was rather taken by the 2007 Superiore, however, due its almost Port-like richness. Not sure I could drink much of it though.

The real interest, for me, on this table lay in the two sweet wines. The other dry reds were good, certainly, but not stylistically different from some others. The "Chinche", however, is a late harvest Arneis (like Fabrizio's "Bric Bastia") with some entriguing characters (I need to taste this again!) and the "Birbet" is a highly unusual (to me) low alcohol lightly sparkling red made from Brachetto (I think). Necessarily sweet but, rather than the sickly mess I had envisaged, I found myself liking it very much.

A superb meal followed with superb wines from the Nada Giuseppe stable. I am familiar with all of these, of course, except that Enrico had sent over a sample of his 2007 Barbaresco Riserva. Quite simply, the star of the night.

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