I had the opportunity recently to taste through five wines from the Piedmont producer Andrea Oberto, courtesy of our good friend Michael Korn at J&J Importers/Wines of Distinction. The wines were selected for two winemaker dinners, which have since taken place, both in the Metro Detroit area. I’d never tasted any of these before, and indeed, they were barely on my radar, but Mr. Korn assured me that they were of high quality, and not only is his word good enough for me, the wines acquitted themselves admirably. Michael describes Oberto as “a bit of a modernista,” and sustainable farming practices are employed in the vineyards.
On hand for both of those was Fabio Oberto, Andrea’s son and the man responsible for making them. Besides the five reds, also included in this tasting were an excellent, well-priced Brut Rosato Spumanti and a zippy little Moscato d’Asti. I was joined by Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market Corporate Executive Chef Tim Enfield C.E.C, who was responsible for one of the two dinners, and have included his comments and menu pairings as well.
Amuse: Raspberry Caviar, Spumante Nectar
Cantine Sacchetto Rosato Brut NV, 12% alc.:
I’ve gone through my share AND yours of this one over the past few years; we first reported quite favorably on it on 2006. Salmon pink, with ample fine bead; strawberry, watermelon and mineral flavors and aromas shaded with nice earthy undertones. Medium bodied and more, with excellent acids and length. Chef Tim mentions burnt sugar on the palate and a sweet straw nose. Find this wine
First: Porcini Agnolotti, Barbera Rouge, Shaved White Truffles
Andrea Oberto Dolcetto d’Alba 2009, 13.5% alc., $19.99:
Clean garnet color; stingy on the nose, but generous with a solid core of earthy, sticksy dried cherry flavors. Chef Tim notes “a young wine; mineral, cocoa bean, no sugar and pepper.” Medium-to-medium full bodied, with good intensity and length; structured for at least a few years of aging and developing in the cellar. Find this wine
Second: Coal Grilled Cocoa Crusted Lamb Lollipop, Dolcetto Dregs
Andrea Oberto Barbera d’Alba 2008, 13.5% alc., $26.99:
Clean, medium dark color, with a kaleidoscope of flavors shifting between black currant and plum, a little blond truffle and some burnt matchstick in the background; Medium-full bodied and structured for three to five years in the cellar, but already very taster friendly. Find this wine
Third: Bronzed Wild Salmon, Braised Fennel, Barolo Brodo
Andrea Oberto Nebbiolo Langhe 2008, 14% alc., $27.99:
Clean, medium dark color; old wood and dried cherry flavors and aromas, shaded with what Chef Tim describes as “a little spice, a little gunpowder, a little bubblegum and driftwood.” Very well balanced, with a rich core of fruit and great balance of tannins and acids. Nice promise for further development and improvement, yet already quite tasty. Find this wine
Fourth: Marjoram Smoked Imperial Kobe Rib Eye, Boucheron Golden Mashers, Dried Cherry Demi-Glace
Andrea Oberto Barolo 2005, 14.5% alc., $52.99:
Smoky ruby garnet color, and an equally smoky cola nose that follows through on the palate with added earthy blackberry and some cigar tobacco as it opens; pretty high notes of cherry and cola play off the round mid-palate and earthy bass notes. Very pretty and refined; lovely now, yet structured for several years in the cellar. Find this wine
Andrea Oberto Barolo Albarella 2005, 14.5% alc., $52.99: I didn’t take notes on this because I was working the event. The distributor substituted this in the dinner for the regular bottling noted above because this was going for the same price. I did get a taste, however, and it impressed me as upping the ante of the regular bottling, being even more elegant and refined, and showing more oak as well. There’s plenty of structure to this, so I have no doubt that the wood will integrate with time. Everyone was mucho impressed with this. Find this wine
Andrea Oberto wines imported by Worldwide Cellars, Minneapolis, MN
Fifth: Robiola Langhe, Petite Greens, Pineapple Peach Vinaigrette
Degiorgis Sergio Moscato d’Asti 2009, 5.5% alc.:
With a nice spritzy effervescence, being slightly fat and long on the finish, this offers flavors and aromas of peach, apricot and honey, sweet, but not cloying. Chef Tim adds impressions of crystal, rose and peach on the nose, with “sweet pineapple on the palate.” This does everything Moscato d’Asti should and does it well. Find this wine
For the record, the dinner I was involved in was a great success, with both the wines and food being very well received. The wines of Andrea Oberto have been receiving very good reviews and ratings from some of the usual suspects in the wine press but I get the feeling that they’ve still been flying beneath the radars of a good deal more people than just this taster, which is unfortunate, because they are definitely deserving of far greater recognition.
Reporting from Day-twah,