“Rustic chic” is an annoying term that Millenials like me often use when we mean to say, “the party is in a barn, but please wear a tie.” We also say Vegas without the Las, anyways instead of anyway, and “meal-prep” when we’re just making dinner for the week. And don’t you dare send me a text with just a period at the end! Nevermind all that. Rustic and chic. Can these two contrasting terms apply to wine? Rustic implies that something is rough around the edges and not hiding humble roots. Chic connotes elegance or finesse, perhaps even the surprise that something may be classier than first thought. Rustic is the truth, chic is the outcome and Marco Tintero’s Langhe Nebbiolo embodies this. His humble $12 bottling stands toe to toe with wines of much higher pedigree, as evidenced during a recent tasting of Nebbiolos, including Barbaresco and Barolo. Tintero’s Nebbiolo was the wine of the night. I am bowled over by the eucalyptus and mint aromatics, black cherry fruit, and dusting of tannins. Food pairings you ask? If you’re feeling rustic, go with fresh pappardelle and a homemade bolognese. If chic is your thing, consider a fine cut of beef with a side of soft polenta. Regardless of your generation or your location on the scale of rustic to chic, with a bottle or six of this in hand, you’ll no doubt be living your best life.
The commune of Mango is the heart of Moscato country, and 20 of the Tinteros’ 30 hectares are planted to this grape. Their largest parcel is in the Sorì Gramella vineyard, whose full southern exposure and gradient of more than 20% pamper the grapes with many long hours of sunshine, without even casting shadows from one row to the next as is the case in most vineyards. The resulting wine is delightfully fizzy and slightly sweet, an irresistible combination that makes it a universal favorite. Marco Tintero also maintains that same spirit in his other wines, which are all fresh, easy, and fun to drink with friends.
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now nine Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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