Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchants was table #2 and (*** $20) 2009 De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo was wine #3. Rosenthal was one of nine importers and distributors showcasing 45 wines in total at the 8th annual Ball Square Fine Wines Grand Tasting. Without too much surprise, Rosenthal’s portfolio offered exciting moments at another chock-a-block event where sellers hawked a continental, vintage, and varietal kaleidoscope of wines to render the most committed taster dizzy and helplessly confused. Hopscotching through crowds and tables of mostly weak, sometimes decent, and very occasionally excellent wines in tasting formats designed to accomodate sellers over palate learning is just not my cup of tea. It’s still almost worth showing up at these “wine bazaars” to witness the once undiscovered gem rise above all, just the way De Forville’s 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo did at Neal Rosenthal’s table this afternoon.
De Forville starts with a familiar story; family emigrates to Italy from Belgium in mid 19th century. Immigrations in-between the French and Belgian revolutions and World War I, from western Europe to Southern Europe, are buried with noticeable frequency in current day Italian winemaking family trees. Next comes histories of bulk winemaking making their shifts to estate productions carrying forward ancestral vineyard characteristics and philosophies in élevage. New generations of now old winemaking familes create more modern wines tinged with their families’ traditions born from local dirt and fruit. The De Forville story ends up, though, with a value portfolio offering a broad range of variety from Moscato to Barbera to their traditional strengths in Nebbiolo from multiple Barbaresco vineyard sites. This quality, non-vineyard-specific 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo ranks particularly high as a sensational combination of value and quality.
There is no way the $20 wine won’t, at least, remind you of a $75 Barbaresco. You can taste the earth, red and black cherry flavors, and licorice. There is evident but manageable tannins that won’t get in the way of immediate enjoyment. Best of all, the wine can transport you to the Langhe hillsides and Baraberesco villages where there is no mistaking the flavor, texture, and purity of these regional wines. This De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo from 2009 is worth buying by the caseload. And because Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchants delivered once again, you can avoid venturing out to the local wine bazaars near you for a while longer. I am going to experiment with these wines over the next ten years for less than $240 a case. A bazaar afternoon, but well spent after all!