Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours at Wishbone on Jasper Avenue discussing the history and philosophy of the famous Agricola Azelia winery from Piedmont with 5th generation family member Lorenzo Scavino, perhaps the handsomest young man I have ever had the misfortune to be photographed beside. Lorenzo and his family typify the kind of wine producers that we love to work with; small, hands-on, and uncompromising in their approach to the wines they produce. In this happy instance, it means tiny batches of exquisite Barolos, hand-crafted from old vines (even the basic cuvee is produced from 55 year old vines) that clearly proclaim their individual terroir, without masses of wood or other interventions that can muffle and distort the voice of the vineyard they come from
Lorenzo led us through a flight of wines that included the family’s Dolcetto, Langhe Nebbiolo, the basic Barolo, and three single vineyard Barolos. Each of the wines had their own distinct personality; none were generic, half-hearted, or designed for what is euphamistically called “the international palate” (over-extracted, over-ripe, sweet and structure-less). But, oh my, they were delicious – clean, with great tension, minerality, and power. Of course, being so young (the barolos were all from the 97 point 2013 vintage) they need some time to develop (that’s why we appreciate Azelia’s policy of holding back wine every year in order to do library release back-orders from time to time), but they hold great promise.
Of course, wines like these are not inexpensive, but they are a great reminder of what is possible when a producer stands back and lets the vineyard speak through the wines. Great stuff!