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Inside the Bottle: My first smell of Poderi Colla's Barolo Dardi le Rose was mesmerizing. I tasted a 2001 vintage of it in Los Angeles at a BYO Barolo event. In the company of Barolo juggernauts like Giacomo Conterno, Cavallotto, Giacosa, both Mascarellos and many more, this wine of sublime finesse went straight to the top of my list, as it did with many other talented sommeliers in the room.
Few things are more thrilling than tasting one of the world's greatest wines for the first time. With the help of Alfio Cavallotto, one of the greatest winemakers in Barolo, and one of the Colla's biggest fans, an appointment with the Collas was arranged. Our visit with the Colla family was one of the most memorable I've had at any estate in Europe. Tino Colla and I hit it off immediately, and before long we began selling their wines.
The Poderi Colla Bussia "Dardi le Rose" comes from one of the most venerable houses in the Langhe. With over 300 years of experience, the Colla family, former owners of Prunotto (during their most legendary years, 1956 to 1994) began their first family estate, Poderi Colla, in 1994. While they strive to make wines of finesse and polish they don't compromise Barolo's capability for great ageability and deep complexity.
This wine is a stunner, expressing classic aromas of dried rose and orange peel, sour cherries, tobacco and leather that beckon your nose as far into the glass as it can go. The subtlety of the wine is extraordinary for a young Barolo and can be matched only by a few of the greats, like Guisseppe Mascarello's Monprivato. Aromatically, the wine offers a brilliant constellation of classic Barolo scents. On the palate, the typically stern tannins of a young Barolo are finely polished and are buoyed by the refreshing acidity from the site's high elevation. The palate aromas mirror the nose and add brown earth, dried cherry, aperol, toasted cedar, almond flower and fresh porcini. Floral and savory to the bone, this near masterpiece lends itself to a perfect Italian feast. One of the greatest wines in our collection, this should be drunk when you feel the desire to lose yourself in a wine of pure Piemontese dialect and culture. You might need at least two of these.
Other Stuff: It was this vineyard that, in 1961, Bepe Colla (who at the time owned the famed, Prunotto) decided to make the first commercially sold single-vineyard bottling of Barolo. It wasn't a random decision, nor was the accidental that when Bepe sold Prunotto, he put all of his money for Barolo on this cru.
The Dardi le Rose vineyard faces South to Southwest, at about 300-350 meters above sea level and is on clay, limestone marls and some sandstone, all a perfect combination for a great vineyard site. The wine is raised in large slovenian cask for a little over two years and is bottled without filtration.
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Inside the bottle: The Sablet is an extraordinarily powerful and rustic red. Usually when people say rustic, I feel that it implies that it’s a little “funky”, if you know what I mean. This is not the case here with this absolutely pure and focused wine. The fruit falls back to a tertiary role behind the earth and floral aromas. This blend of grapes, dominated by Grenache, comes out of the glass with power that is perfumed with lavender, thyme, spice and meat. Yes, meat, dried meat, like jerky or French saucisson, as well as grilled beef. If this sounds like a bull in a glass, it is.
The aroma springs out of the glass with black pepper, tapenade, licorice and herbs of Provence. The fruit aromas of the wine hit high red notes along with the obvious darker impressions of fruit, like black mission figs. On the palate, the wine carries a massive structure that calms down with a little air. Good luck on keeping your hands off of this when you open it.
Terroir: As the name suggests, this vineyard is dominated by sand but also has a good dose of sandstone, quartz and limestone. Because it’s on a north facing terraced hillside of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the wine remains aromatic and fresh. The neighboring vineyards of Roubine in Vacqueras and Gigondas have a lot of clay, which adds roundness and full fruit flavors, while the sands of Sablet bring more structural elements, exemplifying the tannin and acidic structure with less juiciness. This wine is both a “vin de terroir” and a “vin de garde.” It is a supremely serious wine for its mere Cotes du Rhone appellation status.
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