Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dessalini's Fara: A Vertical

The Dessilani family has been making wine in the Colline Novaresi since the early 1800s.

At last year's Nebbiolo Grapes meeting they presented a vertical of Fara, a DOC of the Colline Novaresi that's produced in the Comuni of Fara and Brione. The Rules governing the appellation state that it should be 30-50% Spanna (the local name for Nebbiolo), 10-30 Vespolina, and up to 40% Bonarda; the latter two grapes are common blending grapes throughout much of Northern Piemonte and on into the Oltrepo Pavese, whereas Nebbiolo is Nebbiolo, and of the three it's certainly capable of giving the most interesting results.

And it may be for this reason that the Dessalini website lists the composition of Caramino as 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Vespolina, with no Bonarda at all. I really don't blame them for omitting the Bonarda; the wines were very nice:

Dessilani Caramino Fara DOC 1971
Almandine with brownish overtones and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, and quite mature, with earthy leather -- a fellow taster says naugahide -- and some animal tang; to me it brings to mind the leathers of a hose's reins, mingled with some old wood and some underlying bitter sweetness; there's also some balsam, and mentholated leaf tobacco. Quite a bit going on in a key that manages to be both austere and approachable. On the palate it's rich and full, with elegant slightly sour plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that gain life from deft citric acidity, and flow into a long clean sour berry fruit finish. Obviously the child of a superb vintage; it's quite nice, and welcoming, inviting sip after sip, and will contribute beautifully to a meal built around an elegant cut of beef, say a crown roast.

Dessilani Caramino Fara DOC 1978
Brownish almandine with pale yellowish rim. The bouquet is less intense than that of the 71, and a bit more tired, with iodine and Moroccan leather mingled with some balsam and underlying sea salt. On the palate it's full, and rich, with pleasantly bright sour berry fruit supported by ample smooth tannins that have a slight savory balsamic burr, and flow into a clean sour berry fruit finish with hints of Moroccan leather. Quite nice, and has held up very well indeed; it's a beautiful wine that has a great deal to say, and will bring much joy to those fortunate enough to come across it.

Dessilani Caramino Fara Riserva DOC 1988
Leathery almandine with ruby reflections and yellow almandine in the rim. The bouquet is clean, and rich, with leaf tobacco mingling with some sea salt and mentholated balsamic notes; the impression is one of deft, tight control. But it does invite repeated sniffs. On the palate it's full, with fairly bright sour plum cherry fruit that gains depth from merest hints of dried mushrooms and raw beef, and is supported by both lively acidity and ample smooth sweet tannins that have a steel core to them, and flow into a long clean slightly bitter finish with balsamic notes. Pleasant and graceful rather than towering; it's one of those wines that will sneak up on you, and steal your attention from whatever else you happen to be doing. Though it will drink nicely with red meats, I might drink it far from the table.

Dessilani Fara DOC 1993
Almandine with brownish reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, and surprisingly fresh given the age of the wine; there's fairly bright sour red berry fruit supported by some leaf tobacco and hints of green leather with crisp savory notes as well. Quite pleasant. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful slightly vegetal red berry fruit that gains direction from moderate acidity, and is supported by cleans slightly splintery tannins that have bitter undertones, and flow into a fairly long slightly vegetal finish. Elegant, and an impressive display from what I recall as being a rather poor vintage; it's not a wine I would age much longer, but it is nice now, and will work well with red meats.
2 stars

Dessilani Fara DOC 1999
Almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is much younger than those of the older wines, including the 93, with a fair amount of cedar mingled with vegetal overtones and some spice; repeated swishing does bring up some green leather and plum fruit. On the palate it's fairly full, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by tannins that leave a cedar-dust trail over the tongue and flow into a fairly long cedar laced finish. It's oakier than the earlier wines, and though this may be a sign that the oak will fade with time -- if one assumes the earlier wines had as much oak -- it could also mean that this vintage was more heavily oaked. In any case, I found it less interesting than its older siblings.
2 stars

The Dessilani Winery's Site

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