Dan Redman is lucky salesman. He sells Damilano wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. His biggest problem is not selling wine. The biggest bump in his job is that he never has enough wine to sell. Last week Dan’s Mosaic Wine Group brought Brand Manager, Barbara Levi Cavaglione, to Dallas to showcase the wines. It was the last stop of her 7- day 6-city tour. I was an invited guest at the tasting, which took place at the Dallas epicenter of Italian wine: Jimmy’s Food Store.
You can’t be a Piedmontese wine producer without being judged on your Barolo, the the king of Italian wines. It projects Italian viticulture more than any other wine. Basically the wine is 100% Nebbiolo grape which is grown in or near the small town of Barolo. Despite countless attempts, no other place in the world has succeeded in growing Nebbiolo that tastes like a Nebbiolo grape from this region. Every once in a while, someone succeeds for a year but then the product disappears. Last time I checked, Hunter Hammett, the eagle-eyed sommelier at the Pyramid Restaurant, had an Argentinean Nebbiolo that was a ringer for a Barolo on his wine list, but his inventory was down to half a dozen bottles.
Damilano’s portfolio is rich in Barolo. It is 70% of their production and the jewel in the crown is a 34-acre vineyard named Cannubi. It’s ownership is shared among some 20 producers. Damilano acquired their first shareholding in 1935 and now controls two thirds of the acreage. They served their 2006 to a packed house at Jimmy’s. The wine is intense in the nose and the mouth with earthy notes in the nose. It can be enjoyed now (we ate it with Jimmy’s cinghiale sausage) but will keep for 15-20 more years, based on previous vintages. At $80 it is a wine to collect, but you don’t have to spend that much on an authentic Nebbiolo to drink tonight. Damilano Nebbiolo d’Alba absolutely exudes a footprint of how great Nebbiolo should taste and is available for $15 at Jimmy’s. I’m pleased to see more ‘ordinary’ Nebbiolo wines appearing on the market to make this unique grape more accessible to consumers. I’m just puzzled why it does not grow outside Piedmont.
Footnote: That food, including the sausage, and the wines for this tasting was only $25+tax per person. An amazing bargain. Check Jimmy’s web site to get notices about future tastings.
[Ed's Note: We corrected our spelling of "Damilano."]