Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New releases from Oddero

I was lucky to be on the sales floor yesterday when Enrico, an italian portfolio manager of a large distributor here in California, dropped by to taste a few new releases from Oddero. Run by the same family since 1878, La Morra's Oddero currently has two female Odderos, Mariacristina and Mariavittoria making the wine. While it is far from an undeniable truth, sometimes you can really sense a female winemaking stamp during a line-up of wines from a winery. There is a softness, lack of brash flavors, approachability and overall balanced character to the wines, even if made from grapes in an area known to produce bigger, bolder wines. I had the same experience recently tasting Vinedos de Ithaca's wines in Priorat (I'll post on it soon). Not to say that all or even most wines made by females are inherently softer, more subtle and balanced, that's just been my recent experience. And I'll leave it at that. Without a doubt, I plan on seeking out more wines made by females. After all, is it not true that we were made by a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman?

So three baroli from the very good 2004 vintage and a barbera d'alba from 2006.

2006 Oddero Barbera d'Alba

A tricky barbera to classify. I tend to group barberas into these 4 categories:

1.) cheap quaffers with decent fruit and acidity
2.) mid weights with more sap, and stick to your gum qualities, often with a touch of wood influence (Vietti tre vigne)
3.) top-notch barberas with considerably more weight, complexity and ageability ( giacomo and aldo conterno, bartolo mascarello)
over extracted, over-oaked barberas that have lost their acidity and inherent barbera-ness (Cascina val de prete 'carolina', Vietti scarrone)

This barbera would be a cat. 2, but it is just so reserved, maybe closed, that it doesn't have the sap of others. There are somewhat shy, closed dark fruits that quite possibly will emerge and become more lively and interesting in the next few months. Maybe the wine recently arrived off a boat, or perhaps by truck from the east coast?

2004 Oddero Barolo Estate

Not particularly impressive, a bit muddled and lacking focus, but after all it's $35 barolo, and how often is $35 barolo worth drinking these days?

2004 Oddero Barolo Villero

Now things get interesting. This single vineyard barolo from the Castiglione Falletto commune has much more intensity, purity and drive to its dark berry fruits. The wine has a solid future ahead of it and is best stashed away for at least 12 years.

2004 Oddero Barolo Rocche di Castiglione

More complex aromas, with mixed red and dark berry fruit, sweet black licorice, a touch of anise and cocoa powder all making appearances on the nose. On the palate the red fruit flavors take over, and it is much more lithe and racier than the powerful nose would suggest. It's another balanced, traditional barolo that I would be proud to cellar if I weren't coming back from a trip where it cost me an average of 55 euros to tank up.