Attilio Ghisolfi Pinay Langhe 2005
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Attilio Ghisolfi Pinay Langhe 2005 Tasting Notes

Piemonte's Langhe hills provide the classic cradle of the region's formidable Nebbiolo-based appellations Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as impressive Barberas and Dolcettos. The Langhe DOC may often be a repository for declassification of many of these grapes as the case may be, but the appellation also serves a geographically descriptive purpose for wines made from international grape varieties. Such is the case of the 2005 Attilio Ghisolfi Pinay.

The wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir. Merge the mouthfeel you might expect from a Pinot Noir with the land-feel you come to expect from Piemonte and you get an interesting $16 wine. The wine has deep flavor on several levels, is slightly off the beaten path in style, and ultimately brings true character.

Clear and medium in density, the Pinay is purple with garnet edges. My first nose note was not a standard one: “hay barn.” Mushrooms grow in this barn. Strawberry leads the fruit, backed by red plum and prune. The back of the wine shows a spicy smokiness.

The fruit is restrained on the nose, and though delicious, also restrained on the palate. The strawberry, plum, and prune echo on the palate with some dried cranberry, but more prominent notes are dried mushroom, tobacco, chocolate, mocha and vanilla. These bring a pleasant bitterness to a long, earthy finish. The wine is at all stages dry and tannins are soft.

Though made from an international grape not traditionally used in the region, ultimately the Pinay shines as a subtle Old World wine. It is to be expected that a Pinot Noir will not translate the essence of the earth in which it is grown in exactly the same way as a Nebbiolo, yet the Langhe is nevertheless quite a tasty bit of ground. Though evocative, the exact taste configuration of the Pinay is new to me. Such a sensation, I realize now, is sadly uncommon, even in the big wines. Call it terroir, call it land-feel, call it taste-positioning—coin your own term—this wine has got it and it works.

Verdict: Sensual pleasure
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I have seen a wine map of Piemonte where the wine names obscure those of the towns. The region is one of the richest and most varied in the world of wine.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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