Dezzani Barbera d’Asti Superiore 80 Anni 2011

dezzani-barberaAvid readers will no doubt have noticed the dearth of Chairman’s Selection coverage in recent weeks. That’s no coincidence; we haven’t found much to gush about. It’s not for lack of trying either – CS wines are typically my go-to for mid-week drinking, especially those in the $10-15 range, and I even attended the October preview tasting for PLCB wine specialists.

It’s not that I haven’t found any that I enjoyed drinking; just that I haven’t found any I *loved*. That I felt compelled to share with you all. That you absolutely must try.

Until, that is, I drank my first bottle of Dezzani Barbera d’Asti Superiore 80 Anni 2011. I haven’t been this excited about a Chairman’s pick in quite a while.

Funny enough, I almost didn’t buy it. Having tasted the Dezzani Starde Barbaresco 2011 at the aforementioned CS tasting in October – a lean, taught wine, but well-made and a seemingly excellent value at $18 – I figured I would give the same winery’s Barbera (one of my favorite varieties) a try.

When I went to my local store, it wasn’t out, so I asked my friendly wine specialist to grab me a bottle from the back. When she handed it to me, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the bottle – heavy and thick, like one might expect from a high-end Napa Cab. I also noticed the alcohol percentage – a whopping 14.5%, high for Barbera. My warning flags were up, and, truth be told, if I had picked this up off the shelf, I might have put it back and walked away. But since the wine specialist had made a trip to the storage room just for me, I decided to keep it. At $16.99, it wasn’t too much of a gamble.

But man did it pay off! Despite my misgivings about the modern bottle and higher ABV, this baby is old world all the way: stinky, earthy, funky. There’s certainly barrel influence here, but it’s well-integrated after some age. Somehow, despite everything I just said, it remains fresh, vibrant with dark, moody fruit. What a wine!

This reminds me of another great Chairman’s Barbera – the Vigneti Massa Barbera Cru Monleale 2006 from a few years back.

I should also note that I’ve had a little bottle variation with this – one corked, and another that didn’t quite reach the same heights, but I suppose that’s to be expected from an older wine in the program. I still think it’s worth the chance.

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