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Old 10-08-2004, 10:34 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Lombardia, Italy
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Dessilani Novara Nebbiolo

VinoCibo.com Web Selection 10/8/04

Dessilani, Novara

It was 1985 and we were still buying 1978 Gattinara Riserva from Dessilani. We started buying it two years before and every shipment was different in character. It just kept getting better. In those days the wines waited in barrels for shipment and so every order we received had been aged longer in barrel. These were still wines made by the legendary Luigi Dessilani who almost made his 100th birthday still working in the vineyards every day and attributed his long life to a liter of his own red wine a day. I was lucky enough to visit Luigi at the winery in 1984, the year before his death, and I must say his strategy seemed to be working very well.

This was the same time that his son-in-law, Enzo Lucca, was starting to take over the winemaking. In the two decades that followed, Lucca has slowly introduced modern winemaking to the Dessilani wines, but they still have the edge that made that 78 Riserva so delicious. While the treatment in the cellar has changed, what is even more important at Dessilani are the changes Lucca has introduced in the vineyard by decreasing the use of less noble varieties and increasing percentages of nebbiolo, while at the same time decreasing yields and increasing vine density.

The results are modern wines with brilliant fruit and color that are still clearly varietal and tremendous values. Dessilani produces the full range of Novara hills wines and each is worth seeking out for their distinct personality and clean nebbiolo character. Warm vintages like 1997 and 2000 that cause problems in the Langhe are welcome in the cooler Novara region and give wines with more depth, but in general great vintages in Langhe are great vintages here too. However, the blasting heat and drought of 2003 was even to great for Novara. The relative lack of fame of the top two wines of this zone, Ghemme and Gattinara, both DOCG, means that you can often find older vintages in the market at bargain prices so keep an eye out of 1996's and 1997's. Nebbiolo does not produce wines here with the same power as Barolo and Barbaresco, but they have an more delicate balance with a very appealing high-strung character from the crisp acidity. Their own personality stands out on its own and they should not be considered inexpensive replacements for Langhe nebbiolo, but interesting wines in their own right. For their relative delicacy they are surprisingly long-lived because of the fine backbone of acidity and tannin, but at the same time drink earlier than Barolo or Barbaresco and better yet, cost less.

Recommended current Dessilani releases:
The Dessilani winery is the heart of the small town of Fara and it is from two single-vineyards in this DOC that two of their most interesting wines come from.

The DOC Fara releases:
1999 Dessilani Fara, Caramino ($35)
Bright light ruby with garnet highlights, quite translucent. Ripe bitter cherry fruit aromas blend with earthy touches of tobacco and black licorice. Lean and lively on the palate with bright ripe plum flavors that dance across the palate highlighted by touches of fresh mint, tar and black truffle. The finish is angular and firm with tight tannins and acids mixing with ripe fruit and spices. Needs 2 or 3 years to open, but a lovely nebbiolo with a distinctive liveliness and balance. (Rating A, Excellent)
2000 Dessilani Fara, Caramino ($35)
Bright rich ruby, with touches of garnet. Quite translucent. Round and ripe on the nose yet lively and minty with a tarry punch. Firmly structured with firm potent flavors. Classic, dense nebbiolo layered with ripe cherry, caramelized oranges, thyme and black licorice. The finish is a long mixture of ripe cherries and bitter tar with a firm tannic punch. Needs 3 to 5 years to develop.(Rating A+, outstanding.)
1999 Dessilani Fara, Lochera ($35)
Bright ruby with garnet highlights, quite translucent. Riper and more forward than the Caramino. Warm, round sweet cherry nose with touches of black licorice a firm mineral touch Soft ripe raspberry fruit mixes with a warm earthy roundness on the palate. The tannins rise in the finish, but are still relatively round and forward, but firm enough to balance the ripe fruit flavors. Not a soft wine by any means, but very forward compared to the more structured Caramino. (Rating A-, excellent)
2000 Dessilani Fara, Lochera ($35)
Brilliant light ruby with touches of garnet. Pronounced round, ripe forward nose full of spices, raspberries and black licorice. Lush and round on the palate with sweet fruit held together by a good touch of tar and firm tannins. Long big sweet cherry finish with a decided bitter tinge of tar and licorice. (Rating A-, excellent)

Other current Dessilani releases:
1999 Dessilani Gattinara ($50)
Brilliant ruby with garnet highlights. Just translucent. Expansive nose full of ripe cherries and dried roses with bitter tar and caramelized oranges with hints of warm spices. Firm and tight on the palate, but already showing great complexity. The finish is very long, starting out lean and tannic then expanding into round ripe plum fruit with a clean black licorice ending. Better balanced and more complex than the riper 1997. A very fine effort.(Rating A+, outstanding)
1997 Dessilani Gattinara ($50)
Brilliant rich ruby with garnet highlights. Barely translucent. Rich, ripe nose full of violets and ripe black cherries with touches of tar and truffles. A round, mouth filling nebbiolo with a tannic punch under all that richness. Lush ripe cassis flavors blend with touches of cranberry and black licorice and build into a lush finish with a warm ripeness blending with firm tannins and clean bitter tar highlights. (Rating A, Excellent)
1999 Dessilani Ghemme ($45)
Bright light ruby with garnet highlights, quite translucent. Very complex, lean and elegant nose with firm mineral and tar aromas over clean tart black cherry and touches of black truffle. Truly clean, classic nebbiolo with a firm, lean, but very complex finish. Needs at least 4 or 5 years to open. (Rating A-, Excellent)
2000 Dessilani Nebbiolo Langhe ($16)
Bright light ruby with garnet throughout. Quite translucent. Firm spicy nose of burnt oranges and tar with crisp, plumy fruit. Clean and lean with bright nebbiolo tannins and acids and firm tart cherry fruit. The finish is fresh and zesty with a light tannic punch. a very nice everyday wine. (Rating B, very good)
2003 Dessilani Collefino Bianco ($12)
Bright light gold. Clean hazelnut aromas with touches of fresh apple. Bright and clean on the palate with simple but clean touches of ripe peaches. A very pleasant aperitif. Made from the erbaluce grape. (Rating B, very good)
2000 Dessilani Laio (last harvest erbaluce)
Dark gold with hints of brown. Light Oloroso Sherry notes on the nose mixed with ripe apricots and smoky hazelnuts. Round and ripe and very sweet the palate with notes of honey, hazelnuts, ripe peaches and petrol. Very unique wine like a cross between sherry and Sauternes. (Rating A-, excellent)
A Mario Belardino Selection, Imported by Bedford International

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