As more 2015s from Barolo and Barbaresco come our way, a more detailed picture of the vintage is emerging. The short version? It’s really good. The wines are enjoyable young (not always the case with the Nebbiolo grape) but balanced and structured enough for aging.
And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Barbaresco and Barolo still teem with impossible-seeming values like today’s “Pora” from Walter Musso. The Pora vineyard, in the village of Barbaresco proper, is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest crus in the appellation—surely a ‘grand cru’ if Barbaresco had such rankings—and Musso’s ’15 from the site is the ultimate no-brainer “buy” for me. One of the world’s great reds, from an iconic vineyard, poised to age 10-20 years, for $45? That’s a yes in my book. The fact that it comes from a family who’ve farmed their same plot of Pora since the late-1960s only sweetens the deal.
Lovers of Barbaresco wines likely recognize the name “Pora,” as it is not only one of the most historic sites in the zone but one of the signature vineyard-designate bottlings of the legendary Produttori del Barbaresco. Once owned by Domizio Cavazza, who founded the first cantina sociale (cooperative winery) in Barbaresco in 1894, Pora has an almost full-south exposure in spots, with a gentle tilt to the west. It’s part of a cluster of famous sites just south of the Barbaresco village, with the “Faset” and “Secondine” vineyards (the latter used in Gaja’s “Sorì San Lorenzo” bottling) among its neighbors. The Musso family traces its history in the town of Barbaresco way back to 1698, when Giacomo Filippo Musso was mayor, and many generations later, in 1929, Sebastiano Musso founded the family winery. They started out with tiny plots in the “Cavanna” and “Ronchi” vineyards and in the time since have only grown to 10 hectares in total holdings, including pieces of “Rio Sordo” and “Pora”—the latter acquired at the end of the 1960s. Musso is without a doubt one of the most firmly entrenched producers in the Pora vineyard, along with the Produttori del Barbaresco (which bottled its first vineyard-designate wine from the site in 1967).
Today’s wine comes from the 2.5-hectare Musso plot in the heart of the vineyard, which faces southwest and reaches to about 280 meters’ elevation. Conventional wisdom on Pora is that it makes some of the roundest, most generous Barbarescos in the village, but I’d characterize this ’15 as fine-tuned and elegant as opposed to burly. There’s a delicious core of ripe cherry fruit sprinkled with all the mineral/smoky/savory notes that make Nebbiolo Nebbiolo. In the glass, it’s a translucent ruby-garnet red with pink and orange highlights, with aromas of plum, blood orange peel, red and black cherry, leather, rose petal, tobacco, and spice cake. It aged only in large, used oak vessels of 50- and 20-hectoliter capacity, so there’s no excess of wood tannin affecting the texture—it has nice, grainy Nebbiolo tannins and lots of freshness, with well-managed alcohol as well (2015 was a high-octane vintage in many parts of Europe, but in Barolo/Barbaresco thus far we’ve seen great ripeness but no excesses of ‘heat’). Decant this beautiful, classic wine about an hour before serving at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems, then see if you are capable of laying some down or drinking the rest up right away; all of its woodsy savor will make it a great partner for just about anything in the ‘game bird’ universe, so whichever of those you’re comfortable with, fire one up! Check out the attached recipe and start diving into this and the 2015 vintage in general—it’s a winner!
Large (20 & 50HL) Oak Vats
Calcareous Marl & Sandstone