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The Cellar: The King of Wines

Friday, September 05, 2014


’08 Cannubi Barolo from Damilano

There are certain wines in this world that need no introduction. This week’s feature is such a wine. I am of course talking about the wine of kings – the king of wines, Barolo.

This week I am going to do something unusual and focus on a region and its wine, which is not available for under $20. In fact this week’s wine retails for more than 3 times that. While not inexpensive I still dare to call the 2008 Barolo from Damilano’s holdings in the famous Cannubi vineyard an amazing value. To find value in a $60+ bottle of wine one has to know what to compare it to. In this case I believe something like a ‘Boutique’ Napa Cab, a Grand Cru Burgundy or a Classified Growth Bordeaux are reasonable comparisons.

Barolo & Nebbiolo

The northwestern Italian wine region of Piedmont

The town of Barolo is located in the northwestern Italian wine region of Piedmont where the steep and hilly terrain, along with the cool climate, creates the perfect conditions for growing Nebbiolo – arguably Italy’s most noble grape variety and the only variety allowed in wines labeled Barolo. While Nebbiolo can have varying expressions depending on yields, when it is harvested and how it is vinified, Barolos are almost always richly flavored and powerfully structured wines.  For comparison, seek out a red wine labeled ‘Langhe’ (often made from Nebbiolo) and a Barolo. This will give you an idea of the range Nebbiolo offers.

Damilano & Cannubi

The Damilano family has been making wine in the Langhe region since 1890. Today, the family business is run by the fourth generation of Damilano’s Paolo, Mario and Guido who makes four single vineyards Barolos as well as one ‘mixed vineyards’ Barolo (not to mention other wines made from Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Moscato and Arneis). The Barolo made from their 25 acres planted in the Cannubi vineyard is the Estate’s premier bottling. The Cannubi vineyard dates back to the 1700’s and is by many considered one of the top sites for growing Nebbiolo in all of Italy. Like Damilano writes on their website: “If there was a classification of Grand Cru in Piedmont similar to the one in Burgundy, the Cannubi vineyard would be considered as one of the very few true Grand Crus that exist in the Barolo area.”

The ’08 Cannubi Barolo from Damilano is very young. If you absolutely have to open it now (which I had to) make sure to aerate it for a few hours before taking your first sip. There is so much going on in this wine - aromas and flavors of red cherries, bitter chocolate, tobacco, herbs, roses and dirty soil comes to mind. When I say this wine is ‘powerful’ what I am referring to is the structure: noticeable tannins and pronounced acidity. But this is all part of what makes this wine absolutely stunning and worth its price. It drinks absolutely fantastic now, but will also age gracefully for a decade or more.


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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