Thursday, February 17, 2011

Garantito IGP: Menelic, A Reflection of Roero in the Glass

This time Roberto Giuliani takes the stand:

Don't tell me you have never heard or read opinions that begin from very different situations, but lead to the same, undeniable, and dramatic conclusion. An example? Here we go:

"A denomination that fails to communicate terroir, wines that are all very similar, made following a standardized method that makes it impossible to perceive the differences from producer to producer" -- and -- "The wines are so different that it's difficult to find a common denominator; one has an impression of considerable variability that makes it impossible to identify the distinctive characteristics of the terroir."

Another: "These so-called Natural wines, especially when made from white grapes, are very difficult to tell apart -- they all seem quite similar, even if the varietals are different. And what's more, they often stink," -- and -- "Industrial wines lack soul. They are made on the assembly line, the same every year and far from any idea of terroir. They may be technically perfect, but they are soulless, because they are a product of the cellars."

Where is, if there is, the element that leads to these similar conclusions reached from very different starting points? Is it the "human touch," or the set pattern that appears, almost by magic, regardless of the path taken? Don't expect a clarifying answer because I'm not about to give it. It's much better to tell of a wine that doesn't bring up these contradictory opinions, simply because it's free of affectations and highfaluting goals, and "is what it seems to be," as the add for a well-known grappa has been repeating for months. And to tell the truth, a wine like this, in this dark age we live in, one in which everything and its opposite seem to be true, is an anchor, a shining light that allows us a moment free from worry. I am speaking of "Menelic." Not the famed late 18th century Ethiopian king, but a Cru of Roero Arneis, 2009 vintage, made by Emanuele Rolfo of Cá di Cairè.

Yes, an Arneis, a wine from a varietal that finds itself playing second fiddle thanks to that uniquely Italian trait of chasing after the latest trend. Piemonte is certainly not famous for its white wines, but of late we've heard a great deal about Timorasso and Nascetta, the former a reality and the latter a promise. And yet Arneis has been grown in Roero for centuries, and is produced by many wineries, some of which have also experimented with maceration on the skins, or wood use, or autochthonous yeasts.

Menelic doesn't presume to be extremely modern, but is the fruit of carefully balanced reasoning and direct experience. Selection of the best grapes, temperature-controlled fermentation, and aging in medium-sized barrels for 6 months. Its classic brilliant straw-yellow color is supported by a braod range of floral and fruit aromas, in particular yellow peaches, citron, pineapple, and also aromatic herbs and subtle minerality. On the palate it's generous, and savory, with just the right freshness and a texture that suggests good aging capacity. Rich and persistent, and I see it working perfectly with an ovolo salad (ovoli are highly sought after mushrooms) with mushrooms, chilled tongue, potato gnocchi, or a good Fritto Misto alla Piemontese. A wine whose price is also reassuring (under 10 Euros)

Emanuele Rolfo
Roero Arneis DOCG Menelic 2009
Borgata Valle Casette 52
12046 Montà D'Alba (CN)

We Are:
Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi

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