Autumn is the start of the season for white truffle, a culinary jewel from Alba in Piedmont. Most white truffle dishes pair well with wines from the Italian region. The quality of both truffles and wine depends on the weather, but in opposite ways.
"Generally speaking, a good vintage for truffles is normally boring for wine," says Alberto di Gresy, the owner of the Marchesi di Gresy winery. "Truffles need wet weather. Wine needs dry, warm days ending with cold nights for perfect grape maturation from the last week of August, and possibly no rain until October - the end of the harvest." In 2010, the weather was perfect. It was considered a difficult vintage with a wet and cool August. But the damp and humidity provided the perfect growing environment for high-quality truffles.
The most famous red grape from Piedmont is the nebbiolo. It is used for Barolo, which has been given the epithet "the king of wines", and Barbaresco, the "prince of wines". Barolos tend to be big, powerful wines with high acidity and tannins. They may not be approachable when young and often need a few years to mellow and open up. Barbaresco can be drunk earlier. Nebbiolo wines are suited to a long dinner. If you are looking for fun, easy drinking styles, try Dolcetto. The name means little sweet one, and the wines are normally made for early drinking.
Rocche Costamagna, Dolcetto d'Alba Rubis DOC 2010
Rocche Costamagna is a family-run business that dates to 1841. The name rubis comes from rubere in Latin, meaning to be red or blush. It refers to the blackberry flavours that characterise this wine. Modern winemaking with fermentation in stainless steel tanks and no wood maturation has captured the fresh vibrant fruit flavours.
Bright cherry fruit. Medium bodied with good fruit intensity and balanced acidity. An approachable wine that's easy to drink. HK$195
Rocche Costamagna, Barolo Rocche Dell'Annunziata DOCG 2007
The 2007 vintage, with its mild summer and little rain, produced good grapes. The nebbiolo ripened early with high concentrations of sugar adding to body and alcohol levels. This Barolo forgoes ageing in French barriques and has been made in a traditional style with extended ageing for 24 months in 30 hectolitre Slovenian oak casks and 12 months in bottle.
Floral, cherry and savoury notes. Medium bodied, elegant with good acidity and purity of fruit. Long finish. HK$350
Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga DOCG 2006
The 2006 vintage has been described as a great one. The warm summer with dispersed rains and ideal weather conditions allowed the grapes to reach their optimum ripeness.
Dark berry fruit, savoury leather notes. Full bodied with high acidity, firm tannins and a long finish. A complex wine suitable for mid- to long-term ageing. HK$630
Wines are available from wellspringwines.com