Piedmont and Me - Ned Goodwin MW
Monday, April 15, 2019 in News
Ned Goodwin is a multitalented wine communicator and an Australian Master of Wine. After achieving his MW letters in 2010, Ned attended the 2012 Len Evans Tutorial and achieved the honour of being named Dux of his class. He has previously served a sommelier some of the world’s best restaurants including Veritas (NY), Les Juveniles (Paris) and Michael’s (LA). He’s also been the champion of fine wine in Japan and is currently the face of Charles Heidsieck Champagne in Asia. His personal wine passion has led him to the wines of Piedmont and working with Langton’s.
Piedmont and Me
Nebbiolo, the most noble grape of the Piedmont region is a little like my career in wine: an early flowerer but a late ripener.
Working in wine retail in Sydney as a youth served to expose me to little if any Nebbiolo, domestic or Italian.
There simply wasn’t any on these shores, or at least very little outside of the coffers of those who had imported a bottle here and there in their suitcases.
It wasn’t until my role as sommelier at Manhattan’s Veritas, that Nebbiolo began to captivate me.
Ned Goodwin on a recent visit to Langtons, facilitating a Piedmont masterclass.
Veritas was considered to have the finest wine-list of any restaurant in the world, apt for the Clinton era of dot-com money and its voracious spending, before the encroachment of China and internet retail. Anthony Bourdain dedicated a chapter to the restaurant in his inaugural Kitchen Confidential.
At Veritas there was Bordeaux, Rhône and Burgundy aplenty, with many aged bottles from the finest producers of the latter stretching into the tens of thousands of dollars. I was in an enviable position to vet each bottle prior to serving and yet, despite my wonder and sheer bedazzlement, my perspective became one of reflection, comparison, a yearning for a new adventure and with that, a fascination with the wines of the Piedmont.
After all, if great wine is defined by its capacity to serve as a conduit of place, but also as a transmitter of people, Piedmont’s mantle is as elevated as Burgundy and otherwise, unchallenged.
Tucked across the ebbs and undulating ascent toward the Alpine foothills, every crevice, rivulet and gulley explored by a spectacular vine-scape, the Piedmont’s finest wines, as much as Burgundy’s, reflect a single variety communicating a melody of geologies, aspects and cultures of winemaking, all steeped in a warm humanity that is quintessentially Italian.
The variety of course is Nebbiolo. Its most compelling expressions, Barolo and Barbaresco.
Dryly structured and beaming notes of sandalwood, dried flower and a bitter cherry sapidity across a spindle of forceful tannin and bright acidity, at least in youth, these wines are capable of soil to glass transfer like no other variety but for Pinot Noir and, I suppose, Riesling.
While a generalisation, the Tortonian soils of Barbaresco impart a supple elegance to the wines, while Barolo boasts diversity across both Tortonian and Serrevallian eras, from cru to cru a different demeanour from graceful, to wines sculpted by a noble astringency and uncanny freshness.
The region also boasts intrinsic value as manifest in its every-day drinkers as it is embedded in its most profound. After all, let’s not forget the vitality of Barbera, Langhe Nebbiolo, the transparent expressions of the Alto Piedmont and the ‘sweet little one’, Dolcetto. And whites, too: Arneis, Gavi (Cortese) and Nascetta, expressive indigenes all. Then my favourite name, Favorita (aka Vermentino).
Ned Goodwin MW and Head of Auctions, Tamara Grischy at Classification VII Sydney
And here lies the rub. While some of the top wines can be expensive, in relative terms they are a veritable bargain, especially when compared to Burgundy’s best. The finest Barolo and Barbaresco age prodigiously, for longer than virtually any of the world’s finest wines, while evolving across a kaleidoscope of aromatic complexities and an unparalleled versatility at the table. Vintages, too, are significantly more consistent of quality.
While Veritas certainly laid the foundation for my love of the Piedmont, Langton’s provides a platform for further exploration and new discoveries. The Piedmont is a region that continues to grow in stature, while offering true value, intrigue and astonishing wines.