2019 Oddero Nizza
The new vintage of a former PRIMA Wine of the Year winner is here and better than ever. What’s inside is 100% savory Barbera deliciousness! Brava, Cristina.
The last time Maria-Cristina Oddero visited us for a dinner,way back in the fall of 2018, there was, of course, much anticipation regarding her fabulous single-vineyard and blended Barolos, some of the best in the land, but the real surprise showstopper and actual best-seller of the evening turned out to be a wine practically no one even knew she produced- an absolutely sensational Barbera from the Nizza DOCG sub-appellation of Asti. The Odderos have been producing this wine for decades under the Barbera d’Asti DOC but, because they made so little, and the family was always worried that American consumers would confuse their Barbera d’Asti with their very fine but more readily available Barbera d’Alba, they avoided the confusion and, for the most part, kept the wine in Italy. I thought it would be a good wine to kick off our dinner, though, and I grabbed all there was in Northern California; not very much actually. That night, now nearly five years ago, turned out to be the beginning of something really special. We wound up selling virtually all of California’s meager allocation ourselves and, then, each subsequent delivery of the wine. It gained more and more momentum here as you kept coming back for more! And, suddenly, it was PRIMA’s ‘2020 Wine of the Year!’ And, just as suddenly, it was gone. The good news is that we’ve been able to feed the beast- that is your insatiable appetite for the wine- as the Odderos have increased our allocation with each new vintage. Now we’re pleased to introduce the just-arrived 2019 of the wine we call ‘Barbera crack.’ From one of the best vintages for Barbera in years, it’s a stupendous young wine. By the way, you can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Nizza. It’s a small regional town in the broader Asti zone with little to recommend it other than a few good restaurants and a nice little square where you can watch the world go by with a Spritz or Negroni. But, like corresponding Dogliani on the other side of the Langhe, it’s ground zero for some of the most important grape vines in Piemonte. And like Dogliani is for Dolcetto, Nizza has now become a so-called super appellation- a DOCG in fact- in Piemonte for the Barbera grape. Nizza on the label means the wine must be 100% Barbera and grown only in one of the approved tiny subzones that comprise the appellation. It also has to be tasted and approved by a panel of growers, winemakers and experts before earning its DOCG strip. In the Odderos’ case, their old, old Barbera vines are in the township of Vinchio d’Asti, on a hillside so steep they have to replace, manually (as the vines are so crammed together and the soil so fragile you can’t put a tractor in), all of the dirt that collapses in the erosion that happens every winter. This hot, dry, very austere site produces really, really intense, mineral driven Barbera loaded with ferrous-y, bitter chocolate-tinged red fruit, more like red currants or mulberry than the broader cherry-or plum-like fruit you’d find in Barbera d’Alba. Compact, very stylish and just a little bit rustic, it’s a classic, old school rendition of Barbera as seen through the lens of one of the Langhe’s most astute and meticulous winemakers. It’s the absolutely perfect partner alongside richer pasta sauces, dry-cooked spare ribs (this wine loves pork!) and all kinds of harder cheeses. Try it with a beautiful Castelmagno! Come get it while the getting is good.