Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating:***+ $$ Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti Le Orme Superiore, Piedmont, Italy, 2008 (BEST VALUE)

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Initial review, by way of background: This is Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti Le Orme Superiore, Piedmont, Italy, 2008, finished at 13.% alcohol.  This varietal takes its name from red Barbera grapes grown in the hilly areas of Asti and Alexandria, Italy.  The Superiore designation implies a certain minimum alcohol level, along with additional oak or chestnut barrel aging time.

In the glass: Deep magenta, almost opaque in the center. 

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows subtle but balanced fruit, very light oak and sweet dry leaves.   From the aroma, seems like this will be light, but gently sweet and balanced.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact sweet, full and flavorful in the center.  Deep red fruit blends with sweet spices for a surprisingly bold, but still balanced, blend in your mid-palate.  More aromas come through with the sip too, cinnamon mingling with red currant.  Finish draws more on sweet acids than any other element - it tucks in your cheeks. 

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for attractiveness and balance.  This comes about as close to four stars as you can get, without quite tipping the scale.  It falls in the very low portion of the $$ category too, so I will designate a best value.  An outstanding food wine, especially given its modest 13% alcohol level.

Following long decant, kept cool for a full day in a partially filled bottle:   Remains soft, balanced with light bramble on the nose.  Still full and deeply present on the mid-palate, brings along a light veneer of the now-more-curry-like spice.  Has held up very well to the full day decant. With even longer decant, another day kept cool in an even-more-empty bottle:  The nose is softer and sweeter still, with definite milk chocolate as the top-note.  The palate has held together very well, although lost much of the spicy appeal from a day earlier.  This all tells me the Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti will also age quite well for awhile in bottle.

Updated review, over a year later, June, 2012:  Deep brick and magenta in the glass.  Shy red fruit on the nose.  Still a full, spicy, cinnamon-toned sip, with balanced mid-palate and round, sweet and spicy finish.  Held up exceedingly well to the additional year in bottle.  

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