From $23.99, €19.55, 26.50 Swiss francs, 219 Swedish krone, CA$40, AU$50 and £145/160 a dozen in bond
Find the widely available 2010
This week the two big wine merchants of St James's Street in London kicked off the autumn tasting season with massive presentations of their respective best Italian wines on consecutive days this week. In a reverse coals-to-Newcastle manoeuvre, Walter flew over from Italy specially to attend them both, only to be felled by such a terrible cold that Julia and I had to stand in for him. We'll be publishing our joint report on the nearly 200 wines presented next week.
But as a foretaste, my wine of the week today is one of the wines being offered en primeur by Justerini & Brooks that struck me as particularly good value, together with the previous vintage, 2010, that is already on the market and managed to please Walter both times he tasted it.
The late Matteo Correggia, who suffered a fatal tractor accident in 2001, was the big champion of Roero, the also-ran neighbour of Barolo and Barbaresco with its lighter, sandier soils and earlier-maturing but still haunting Nebbiolo-based reds. Ornella Correggia and her winemaker Luca Rostagno carry on the good work as never before with Matteo Correggia, La Val dei Preti 2011 Roero. This is a bottling of the estate's oldest vines - both 60 and 80 years old, I was told by export director Sara Palma. More than two-thirds of the wine was aged in barriques, of which half were new, while the rest went into the large botte that are being used increasingly by Correggia. This already-accessible mid-weight, mid-ruby wine offers textbook Nebbiolo aromas with seductive rose petals and autumn mulch spreading right across the palate and attractively soft tannins. For someone wanting to get to grips with the unique appeal of Langhe Nebbiolo, this would be a perfect introduction. This is a beautifully delicate wine you could actually drink already - although it is not yet on the market and Justerini & Brooks are merely taking en primeur orders. I found it irresistible, gave it 17 out of 20 for what it's worth, and would want to drink it over the next five years or so and save my cellar space for the much longer-term Nebbiolos of Barolo and Barbaresco.
That said, I had the pleasure of tasting a magnum of Correggio, Roche d'Ampsei 1999 Roero, the fourth vintage of this wine, last Tuesday night and it was still in fine form. (It was aged entirely in new barriques, incidentally, but Correggia is eager to capitalise on Roero's innate elegance so is cutting back on the new oak now.)
Matteo Correggia, La Val dei Preti 2010 Roero was the first vintage that the Correggia team decided to sell under the new Roero DOCG rather than as Nebbiolo d'Alba, judging that the name Roero had achieved sufficient recognition for this old-vine bottling. This is the vintage that seems to be widely available around the world, notably in the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Australia - although in the UK you still seem to have to buy it by the dozen, according to wine-searcher.com. Justerinis are asking £145 a dozen in bond for the 2011 in this initial en primeur offer - which they reckon is the finest example so far produced - and £160 a dozen in bond for the 2010.
Walter has written eloquently and in detail about the Roero 2010s made in a rather cool, wet growing season and here's his note on the Val dei Preti: 'Just mid ruby with broad orange-tinged rim. Sweet, balsamic nose with spice notes. Pretty austere Nebbiolo palate but it works. Genuine Nebbiolo fruit on the finish.' He gave it 16 out of 20 and suggested drinking it between now and 2018.
Both vintages offer great value for those seeking something of the thrill of old-vine Langhe Nebbiolo without paying the price of the big Bs.
The Roero scene above, cropped savagely to fit our square, is taken from the gallery of beautiful photographs by Carlo Avataneo presented on Correggia's website.