06 November 2011

Azienda Agricola Virna - Barolo

We visited this producer in the Comune di Barolo on 5 November 2011.  We also had the opportunity to try the wines of her husband, Orlando Abrigo from Treiso while we were there.

We were warmly greeted by Virna and taken inside the cantina to the tasting room.

All the wines, except where noted, were opened 24 hours previously.

The first was the 2009 Nebbiolo, 13.5% alcohol.  It spent one year in large Slovenian botte.  A good example of the local Nebbiolo with balanced tannin and grape taste.  There was just a slight alcohol aftertaste noted that will probably become unnoticeable with aging of around two years.

The 2007 Barolo di Base was the next offering, 14.5% alcohol.  It is a blend of grapes from a number of vineyards.  The nose was quite subdued.  The mouth showed a good balance of the grape and tannin.  We recommend that this be drank now to 2014 as a "talking wine".  The Barolo character would be lost in anything but the mildest cheeses so we suggest that you drink it with friends with a pleasant conversation.  This wine is a great value and was purchased for our cellar.

The next was the 2007 Cannubi Boschis, 14.5% alcohol.  This wine is from the vineyard behind Virna's home.  It was aged in three different manners:  33% in large Slovenian botte, 33% in used small oak barrels up to three years old and 33% in new oak.  The nose was very nice with the mouth displaying a good balance of big tannins and big grape flavors.  The alcohol was not evident in what we tasted.  We purchased this wine and will leave in our cellar for up to four years.  We also purchased the 2006 vintage of this spectacular wine.  It will stay in the cellar for probably ten years.  Please read on for a discussion of the 2006 vintage in Barolo.

2006 is widely though of being a less than stellar year for Barolo.  The Barolo producers have labeled it as "Grande" or "Great" rather than "Eccezionale" or "Exceptional".  They write that 2006 produced "Vino di grande struttura ed austerita`.  Profumo intenso e complesso.  Gusto pieno, con tannicita` importante; di lunga vitalita`." (wine of great structure and austerity.  Intense, complex grape flavors in the nose.  Full taste with a heavy tannin presence, to have a long life in the cellar).

However, we have found it to be one of the best if you have patience to let it develop.

We digress because the next offering was another 2006, the Preda Sarmassa, 14% alcohol.  These two vineyards (Preda near La Morra, Sarmassa near Barolo) have contrasting styles because of different soil types.  But, they go very well together.  The nose has a distinct alcohol feel to it which we believe will age out   The mouth supports the big tannins with big grape flavors.  This wine will last years in our cellar.  We will open a bottle in three to five years to see how much longer we can enjoy it.

Because of our impending visit to Barbaresco and the Abrigo cantina, we have decided to split these posts.  You will find our comments on Orlando Abrigo on his own.

On a personal note, we could not have been treated nicer than we were at Virna.  We would highly recommend that anyone that wanted to try the real Barolo and get a little of Barbaresco mixed in, call Virna for an appointment to see her facility and taste/purchase some of the best wines in the area.  We will go back with each new release.

1 January 2012:  With our neighbors, we had a bottle of the 2007 Virna Cannubi Boschis last evening.  It was open for approximately three hours before serving.  The nose was muted but the tannin and grape were very evident.  It went very well with the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Shrimp and Indian potatoes.  The nose did develop over time as well as the grape and tannin becoming less of a distraction.  However, as noted previously, it is really not ready to drink.  We determined that we will let it remain in the cellar for another three years.

24 August 2012.  We opened a bottle of the 2007 Barolo di Base for lunch today.  Yes, I suggested that it be a "conversation wine" but Natalya made a light lunch today (very hot and humid here) so we took a chance.  The wine still has a subdued nose but the mouth was very nice and got better for the two hours it took us to drink it.  Highly recommended for a light lunch or a conversation wine.

31 December 2012  We opened another bottle of the 2007 Barolo to accompany the Ukrainian ravioli that Natalya made for our before midnight meal.  It was very nice, well balanced between the fruit and tannin.  Recommend that you leave it open for a half hour before drinking. If you cannot, leave it in the cellar for another six months.  The nose is still subdued but the mouth is full.

27 July 2013  We opened another bottle of the 2007 Barolo di Base for lunch today.  As we had previously written, it is a conversation wine.  We had a fillet of lake perch with tomatoes from our garden and mozzarella Romana.  Even a light fish such as the perch "stepped on" the flavors of the wine.  We need to read our own writings!!

23 September 2014  We opened the last bottle of the 2007 Barolo di base for lunch today.  We had prepared a plate of pasta with sugo made from our tomatoes, basil and garlic.  At first, the wine was flat with little nose or mouth.  After about 1/2 hour, it started to come around and after about a hour, we wondered why we did not have more.  Our recommendation is to open it now, wait a half hour and serve with a nice pasta dish, not too heavily spiced.

10 November 2014  We opened the last bottle of the 2007 Barolo Cannubi Boschis for lunch yesterday.  We had prepared a stuffed chicken thigh, browned and then finished in our sugu.  The stuffing was dark bread crumbs, half of a hard boiled egg and oregano.  It did very well with this dish, being enhanced by the flavours of the chicken and the tomato sauce.  It could have taken another six months in the bottle but we cannot be exact when there are a limited number of bottles.  If it is in your cellar and you have more than one, we recommend you try a bottle.

6 January 2015  We opened one of last bottles of the 2006 Preda Sarmassa today to go with a plate of pasta with the sauce we make from our tomatoes and ground turkey.  The wine showed a little excess tannin in the beginning but was soon very well balanced.  However, by the time lunch had finished, the wine was starting to show its age.  We have one more bottle in the cellar and will drink it soon.  If you have this wine and more than one bottle, try one now.  If only one is left in your cellar, drink it.  It is very good Barolo!!

15 March 2015  It is too bad when you drink the last bottle from a producer's vineyard for a particular year.  But, the disappointment is somewhat blunted when you know that you opened the bottle at the correct time!  Today, we opened our next to last bottle of the 2006 Preda Sarmassa to go with a lasagna we made.  The combination was what you wish for with every bottle of wine you own (or at least we do).  Drink it now.  It is really spectacular grape juice.

19 November 2015  Our next to the last bottle of the 2008 Cannubi Bochis was served with a simple lunch of chicken ravioli and steamed broccoli.  What a very nice wine!!  It is ready to drink.  It went well with this food selection and did not overwhelm it nor was it muted by the lunch.  If you have this wine, we suggest that you open a bottle to try it.  Closed glasses were used to stop the wine from oxidizing too much.

3 May 2016  Regretfully, the last bottle of the 2008 Cannubi Bochis was opened today.  We served it with an Italian style burrito that had a lot of fresh vegetables and some ground turkey in it.  It was spiced with curcuma.  The wine is ready to drink.  It was the same wine from first taste to last.  We served it in closed mouth glasses used strictly for Barolo.  Highly recommended, drink it if you have it.  Maybe we will ask Virna if she has a few more bottles of it. 

25 February 2018  On occasion, we pick a bottle out of the cellar just to sit and talk.  This evening, we chose the Virna 2007 Preda Sarmassa.  What a great wine!  We had a few appetizers to go with it but the star of the evening was the Barolo (if you exclude what happened after the bottle was finished).  Open a bottle and try it yourself.  It is very good grape juice!!. 

22 July 2018  It is Sunday and Vittorio had the kitchen.  He decided to make one of his specialties, the stuffed chick thigh.  However, this Sunday he used two thighs from our new vendor of chicken in Tonco, Provincia di Asti.  Each thigh is stuffed with half a hard-boiled egg, some rye bread crumbs, organic Sicilian oregano, a little garlic powder and a little salt and pepper (both freshly ground).  The thighs are tied and sauteed on all sides in Sicilian olive oil and then simmered for about one hour or until cooked through.  The chicken was served on a sauce of fava beans and garnished with Chinese long beans from the garden.  The 2006 Preda Sarmassa was opened about 15 minutes before the chicken was done.  The wine held up very well to the chicken and did not mute the flavors of the thigh.  Wine is ready to drink.  We have one more bottle that we will hold until the end of the year.  Try it, it is very good grape juice!

13 August 2018  Today we opened the next to last bottle of the 2006 Cannubi Bochis.  Being the year it is, we decided to open it just before serving a lunch of red potato and porcini ravioli that Natalya made along with two ears of silver queen corn from our garden.  The wine was an almost perfect match for this somewhat "Slovenian" style lunch (which may be defined as food with little if any spices).  We strongly recommend that if you have this wine that you try a bottle soon.  It is spectacular wine as of the day we write this treatise.  It would have stood up to a more spicy dish but there was nothing wrong with the combination!  Great wine, Virna!!!!!!!!

23 September 2018  Today we opened the last bottle of Virna's 2007 Preda Sarmassa Barolo.  We served it with gnocchi di zucca preceded by boscaiolo cheese that was warmed in a saute pan.  Both stood up well to the wine.  We are a bit unhappy that this was our last bottle of the Preda Sarmassa but we are happy we had the chance to try it.  Again, a great wine from Virna!

01 January 2019  Happy new year fans!  Today, Vittorio was in the kitchen with Natalya assisting.  I had decided to take a half faronna (guinea hen) from the freezer (the hen was grown in Tonco without antibiotics).  Since Valentina had told us that the hen was a little older than normal, we should cook it for a little longer.  We sauteed the pieces after then had been floured in Sicilian olive oil that we source directly from the grower.  After they were browned, we added some of Michele's Arneis and covered the pan and added four small sprigs of fresh rosemary from one of the plants in our garden.  The pan was covered and allowed to cook on relatively low heat, continually watching to see if more of the Arneis was needed.  After about one hour, the hen seemed to be cooked.  We adjusted the seasoning and let the hen remain in the pan while the liquid, for the most part, was taken into the hen.  It was served with my mother's recipe for new year's lentils with spinach and Sicilian olive oil plus a salad of anise bulb with seasoning of lemon juice and a little sliced onion.  We had pulled the last bottle of the 2006 Virna Cannubi Boschis Barolo.  We had thought that the wine would be really ready.  In reality, it could use another two years in the cantina.  We will contact Virna to see if she has any more of this very, very good grape juice.  It is a bit tannic but after an hour open, it was one of the smoothest Barolos that we have in our collection.  It is very good.  Kept in the proper storage, you have a minimum of 2 years to drink it.  But, try a bottle.  You many not have any left after you drink the first of it.  Thanks, Virna, it was a great new year with your wine!!!!

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