Kermit Lynch is one of those people referred to as a "tastemaker." His knowledge of wine is legendary - at least - and it's widely known that when he finds a wine he likes enough to import to the US, it's worth drinking. I've seen many wine articles begin with the words, "I don't know anything about this wine, but it's got Kermit Lynch's name on it so I thought I'd give it a try."
To find Cantine Valpane , Mr. Lynch traveled to Italy's Monferrato region. There the limestone and clay in the soil is said to help produce some very fine Barbera. This wine gets a boost from the addition of up to 15% Freisa. These grapes heighten the wine's fruity aspect.
The wine spends about a year-and-a-half in French oak barrels and is then transferred to stainless steel vats in which it rests before bottling. The bottle claims an alcohol content of 14.5% abv, and I believe it's at least that.
It's a dark ruby color, but not inky. There is a powerful nose, heavy with currants, anise and lots of alcohol. This Barbera required well over an hour of breathing the first night. The second night it was good to go on pouring.
The taste is quite brambly, with enough leather to make a fine saddle. There's a spicy characteristic and an almost-hidden hint of raspberry. It strikes me as a very tough-tasting wine. It's not a wine you'll drink without ruminating on, that's for sure.
After the bottle was open for three days - we dined out a lot that week - it took on that wonderful scent that is a cross between an old baseball glove and a plant. Maybe an old baseball glove growing on a cornstalk. Listen carefully and you'll hear, "If you open it, they will drink."