Wine Review: Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2008

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The very first really fine wine I ever had outside a business dinner was a bottle I received as a gift for a “milestone” birthday (but not my 21st). It was a bottle of Chateau Potelle Cabernet Sauvignon VGS (“very good shit”). It was perfect — though I kept it hidden away for several years until just the right time to enjoy it. I’d had many bottles in between, but no time ever felt special enough to enjoy this gift from my dear friend.

To me, there are various levels of wines to purchase. What I buy to make sangria, what I buy for personal use at home, what I buy to take to casual gatherings for friends, what I buy to take to less-casual gatherings for friends, and what I (only very occasionally) buy for a gift to impress. The last is how I’d categorize the bottle of Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2008 I was sent as a sample recently. At a suggested price of around $85 per bottle, it’s not one that I’d buy on a regular basis, but it is a fine wine to give as a hostess gift or Christmas gift. Though I do recommend it for someone who likes a strong red or for someone who has even a small collection, as this wine will continue to mature and improve for several more years if stored properly.

Barolo is a bold red wine made from Nebbiolo grapes grown in the Langhe section of the Piedmont region in Italy. Damilano controls most of the vineyards in the Cannubi subsection and this wine is their flagship single vineyard Barolo (they have other Barolos, as well).

The wine itself appears quite light, but scent tells you otherwise. It’s fruity, floral, and spicy (cherry, rose, anise) with additional sharp notes of tobacco or tar, which is common with Barolos. It’s also dry, with strong tannins (though not as puckery as many Barolos, from what I understand) and is 15 percent in alcohol content.

In other words, this wine isn’t playing around. It is best served with a rich dinner of heavy Italian food or dishes that are strong in flavor to balance it out. Read: this is a great wine for meat-eaters, but also works great with a mushroom risotto or buttery, creamy pasta dishes.

But the menu is the choice of the recipient. Or you could get a bottle for yourself. Sometimes Santa needs a little help, so treat yo’ self.

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