Decugnano dei Barbi tasting and dinner with Enzo Barbi

4th August 2015
La Locanda, Gisburn, Lancashire



 La Locanda dining room

La Locanda is a wonderfully authentic Italian restaurant, rooted in the concepts of agriturismo and slow food, taking primarily local produce from Lancashire's Ribble Valley and using it as they would in Italy, with a number of DOP products being imported from Italy.
Enzo Barbi had come over to present these wines, after he'd spotted a tasting note I'd posted earlier in the year, having had - and written about in glowing terms - a bottle of the Decugnano dei Barbi Il Bianco at La Locanda.
Menu for the evening

We started downstairs with some excellent Prosciutto di Norcia and glasses of Decugnano dei Barbi's fizz:

  • 2009 Decugnano dei Barbi Brut  
    A markedly rich nose, with the pinot noir evidently to the fore in this classic Chardonnay-Pinot Noir sparkling blend. Rich and really quite savoury.
    Rich and full on the palate, with a slight sensation of sweetness. Lots of ripe black fruit. An interesting wine. A bit different than the usual fizz, with rather more character. 91/100
    label image

  • Moving upstairs to the dining room, the first course was an antipasto of various Italian cured meats and some local chicken livers.
  • 2013 Decugnano dei Barbi Maris Umbria IGT 
    A brand new release, on sale just a few weeks now. This is a single vineyard Chardonnay from a vineyard particularly rich in oyster shells. Just 3000 bottles were produced.
    A big, full perfumed, minerally, saline nose, feeling a bit extracted, with aromas of seawater, butter and pear fruit. On the nose, you would never guess this was so young.
    On the palate, it's a lovely, mouthfilling savoury chardonnay. Very individual and characterful. Quite different than you might expect, and very attractive.
    An excellent match with chicken livers and truffle, and very good with smoked goose breast and a wild boar mortadella with black truffle. 92/100
     Antipasto plate

  • Antipasto naturally comes before the pasta, and today it was a homemade, hand-rolled sort of fat spaghetti called picchiarelli that was served with a sauce of two types of pecorino cheese and guanciale (a sort of cheek bacon) from cinta senese pigs (a bit like British saddlebacks, I understand). Delicious, and well matched by the complexity of the Il Bianco.
  • 2011 Decugnano dei Barbi Il Bianco
    Very minerally, chalky nose. Very elegant and refined nose, with some citrus and garriquey herbaceousness, with a hint of anise.
    Lovely precise palate: fresh, minerally, balanced. Somehow this manages at the same time to be both delicate and aristocratic-feeling, and deep and complex. Enormous length, with some hints of fennel on the finish.
    This really is a remarkably impressive wine. 95/100
  • label image  picchiarelli con pecorino, pepe e guanciale

    Moving onto the main course, or secondo piatto and to eat with the Il Rosso, we had an excellent, and certainly hearty dish of local, organic Gazegill lamb leg stuffed with pancetta, chicken breast and cheese, served with Castellucio lentils.
  • 2011 Decugnano dei Barbi Il Rosso
    A blend of sangiovese, montepulciano and 40% syrah, part aged for a year in oak, and bottled in 2013.
    This has a very attractive nose with rich, silky black fruits. You can really feel the syrah on the nose, not least in some chocolate notes, though there''s a nice herbal lift too. An utterly charming, elegant, suave nose.
    On the palate, it's much, much fresher feeling than I was expecting from the nose. Quite zingy actually, initially, with a touch of greenness, though a greennes of underripeness at all. Initially the alcohol is quite evident, but it quickly softens in the glass. At this stage, 91/100.
    But it then improved greatly with food, and with just sitting in the glass. There's a fascinating depth of flavours. After twenty minutes in the glass, it comes across much more integrated. Some peppery spice right on the end of the finish.
    While the syrah seemed to be dominant on the nose, in the mouth, the montepulciano seems to elbow itself to the fore. There's some nice cherry fruit character that starts to come through after a while. Then some cherry-stones and peach kernels on the finish. Fascinating stuff. 94/100
    Label image  Stuffed lamb leg

  • 2013 Decugnano dei Barbi Orvieto Classico Pourriture Noble Muffa Nobile d'Umbria
    Honey, apricots, sea water and oyster/mussel shells on the nose - an unusual combination in a sweet wine, but very attractive.
    Very sweet attack, but it is very quickly balance balanced by a notable acidity. An unusual combinaton of sweet and savoury in a glass. Very balanced, very attractive wine. Superb length.
    Went fine with a selection of different pecorino cheeses, but could really have done with some gorgonzola or other blue cheese. It was, however, excellent with the marmellata and the fruit accompanying the pecorini. 90/100
    bottle image  Cheese

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