I am an explorer and wine is my sea…
One of the main reasons I chose Barolo as my first area of focus was because there is so much I do not know about the many producers in the region. Since I am not “in-the-business” (as they say in the wine world), my exposure to individual wines and producers is limited by what I personally buy. So in many ways In Pursuit of Winefulness is a tool for discovery for me. I now have the time, energy, and focus to explore as many different producers and bottlings from a region as I care to, without having to taste more broadly to satisfy an upcoming exam. In trying more and more wines from more and more producers, I hopefully will stumble upon some that I am truly and deeply moved by. I will hopefully find a producer or two (or more!) that makes me stop and seek out more wines from them because of the quality of the wines that I try. And since I am funding this on my own dime*, hopefully those producers do not force me to break the bank for just one bottle. With the Azelia Margheria 2008, I may have stumbled upon my first of those wines.
Two bottles of the 2008 Margheria has been in my cellar for some time, purchased awhile ago after my Barolo class at Italian Wine Merchants. I did not have any prior background with Azelia before the first night’s tasting. I tasted one of the bottles over the course of 4 nights (sometimes the job, kids and getting up early to make it to the gym before my daily commute limits the time I have at night, so I can only sneak a single glass in before its lights out for me).
On the first night I mini-decanted a sample for about an hour and tasted after putting the kids to sleep.
- In the glass, the Margheria was a pale ruby, not really showing any clear signs of aging.
- On the nose, the wine had a moderately high level of intensity, and was still quite youthful. There was a clear brightness and freshness to the main cherry and strawberry aromas that really jumped out of the glass, along with floral and mineral notes. There was also a salinity to the nose which was quite interesting.
- On the palate, the acidity was medium plus, along with a similar level of tannins. The tannins were light and elegant, but retained a bit of edge to them. The wine had a medium body, and the alcohol was just a touch above medium. Similar to the nose, the flavors showed a moderately high intensity, with tart cherry and juicy strawberry playing off of each other. The fruit was definitely ripe, but not overpowering and certainly not heavy. The finish was well past moderately long, driven by the fresh acidity that remained clear across the palate.
On the second night, after a recork and recellar, I again decanted a sample for about 60 minutes before tasting. The strawberry and cherry notes remained, although there were not as bright as they were on the first night. On the fourth night, I finished off the bottle (again, after recorking and recellaring, but without any decanting). The wine was trying hard to hold on to its cherry notes, but they were definitely fading.
Overall I was very impressed by the 2008 Azelia Margheria. The wine was still young, and the tannins have some room to mellow (although they were well-integrated and did not overpower the wine in any way). The acidity was fresh and bright, and that allowed the fruit flavors to really jump out of the glass. The wine was very well-balanced. But it was the purity and elegance of the wine and the fruit that made the wine really stand out to me. I was a little disappointed that the wine did not hold up completely over the course of the four days, but the wine showed so well that first night that it was not surprising that it fell off over the next few tastings.
The expressiveness which the Azelia showed on that first night made me sit back and smile over my decision to focus on Barolo. And it made me remember how expressive a wine can be, even if it was not forcefully overpowering. From that expressiveness came a joyous pleasure, a curiosity, and a desire for more. The 2008 Azelia Margheria was the type of wine that I was hoping to find in this project, and I will definitely make sure to include several other examples of Azelia bottlings as I go forward. I am excited to learn about Azelia and its other offerings (foreshadowing future posts), and hope to find their other wines as satisfying as the 2008 Margheria.
What wines brought out the explorer in you? What wines made you feel like you had discovered something new and important?
* But like most other wine bloggers, I am willing to accept unconditional samples! Send me an email if you are interested.