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Uncorked: Damiliano Cannubi is worth the wait

Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Instant gratification took over the moment the Damilano Cannubi was opened. 

A special red wine from the Barolo DOCG region in Italy made of the Nebbiolo varietal deserved to be opened after years in a dark cellar. Its acidity and tannins tamed by time hold the bright fruit flavors together as they subtly ease into old age. 

But after just five years, owner Paolo Damilano’s wine shined. It was special right now and will continue to be so for anyone with the patience. 

Winemaker spotlight

Committed to a vision, Damilano waits.

“It is important for us to put away 30 percent of the Cannubi we make,” Damilano said. “Consumers like to drink wine within three years, but we store some to really show future customers different vintages. It’s expensive and hard to wait, but the expressiveness of the wine after time is worth it.”

The wine is made from Nebbiolo grown in calcareous clay and sandy soil on a hill in the heart of Barolo. Due to the high quality of fruit, minimalism has defined the winemaking. Damilano takes a hands-off approach. 

It will sit in the barrel for three years. 

“We’ve discovered Cannubi is so extraordinary,” Damilano said. “We just leave it alone for three years. After that it is perfect. Spectacular.   

“This is a wine that can age a long time. We look for an elegance and balance in the wine. There’s beautiful fruit. The alcohol doesn’t even get noticed, or you don’t feel it, because there is outstanding balance.”

While food and wine are epicurean partners that drive the philosophy of some winemakers, Damilano wants to make the most outstanding interpretation possible. 

“It’s such an extraordinary wine that it doesn’t need to be accompanied by a meal,” Damilano said. “We don’t always try to pair it with foods because the fruit makes such an elegant wine that is very expressive on its own.”

What to buy

Damilano, Cannubi, Barolo 2008 ($85): This is the finest Italian wine I’ve opened in years. Its complex flavors are all complimentary. A refined and elegant mouth feel yield dark chocolate, coffee, cherry and plum notes. There’s a hint of tobacco leaf that ties things up nicely. The tannins are pleasant, and over time the wine opens up beautifully. This could easily be stashed away in a cellar for years and saved for a very special occassion. 

Wine 101

A reserve bottling is next for Damilano. This project, which will take seven to eight years to come to fruition, will hold back bottles from the market for a special release. 

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at news@daily-chronicle.com.

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