A Passionate Foodie turned us on to Salem Wine Imports where we enjoyed another opportunity to taste the wines of Le Piane. He has posted a great write-up on the flight and the wine-maker on his blog.
It's always fun to meet the wine-maker and hear his take on his creations. Christoph, a tall blonde Swede in the quintessential nubby olive-hued sweater, was a pleasure to talk to. His attitude toward the wine reminded me of a father confident in his children's abilities: No need to shield them from ridicule or justify their quirkiness--just allowing them to be and speak for themselves, while providing the details of their origins that they wouldn't remember.
We found the wines of Le Piane thoroughly delightful. That is not to say that these wines are frivolous: The Boca in particular is very um...what's the word I'm looking for? Austere? no...Serious? Definitely not...Bold? Yes, perhaps that is the best way for me to describe it... You can read about what they've done on the Le Piane Boca website but, basically, they've finessed some very rustic tannins in a way that leaves them still very exuberant but not overbearing.
We were fortunate to sample a vertical of the Le Piane Boca 2000, 2001, and 2003. The 2000 vintage enjoyed good weather but, some autumn rain which the wine-maker said affected the concentration of flavor somewhat. The 2001 vintage was the product of a nearly perfect year in terms of weather, and 2003 was very hot, with hardly any rain producing very concentrated fruit. Cristoph described the 2000 as having the most fruit qualities, and the 2003 being the most "charming" of the three. It was easy to see what he meant.
We came away with a bottle of the 2001 which was perhaps not a popular favorite but, which I found intriguing because it was the most different among the three. This wine had a lot of wood-like character but with absolutely no detectable oak thanks to neutral Slovenian oak barrels. It is still very young and we will be saving this bottle for a couple of years.
This tasting reconfirmed for me the notion that experiencing wine is not just about flavors and aromas. These wines were actually on the formidable side and would probably be more approachable with food. However, they were absolutely inspiring and that is what I look for above all else in a great bottle of wine.