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One Eye-Opening Bottle

Have you ever had a bottle of wine that completely changed your whole perspective on what wine could be? When you tasted it, a whole new world opened up to your palate, and it compelled you to find out what exactly you were tasting and why? A bottle that led you into an extensive (and expensive!) love affair? We have. This is the story of that bottle - Orlando Abrigo's 2012 Barbaresco, Montersino Cru.

Let's back up just a smidge. In March of 2016, we traveled to Tuscany and had a wonderful experience. We were totally captivated by the food and wine culture, the engaging people and the stunning scenery that Italy had to offer. After spending only one day in Montalcino, we realized we were just scratching the surface of these incredible wines and this Old World style of wine making. The intimacy of these wines and how they are produced fascinated us. We were accustomed to the more commercial, large-scale farming and production of Californian wine, and this experience truly flipped a switch in us to appreciate the almost boutique, small-scale producers found in Italy. It was much more about that harmonious relationship between land, vine, weather and winemaker. This trip to Tuscany is where we began to understand the meaning of terroir.

Castelnuovo dell'Abate, Tuscany, Italy 2016

Over the next year, we became consumers of all things Italy. We purchased and enjoyed many wines from Tuscany that we were introduced to on our trip - Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, and Chianti Classico. One day, a wine from a region of Italy that we were unfamiliar with, popped up on WTSO. 2012 Barbaresco at $29.99 after 65% off. The reviews were good - and it was Italian, so why not? In reality, it was an impulse buy. We love you and hate you all at the same time, WTSO - why must you make it so easy?!?!

We opened that bottle for Easter dinner and paired it with grilled lamb loin, fresh pea soup, and a fresh pecorino (Costco, if you are reading this, PLEASE stock this again!). When we poured the wine and took our first sips, we remember having such a visceral reaction - "Oh. My. God. Are you tasting this?!" This wine was alive! It was captivating! The flavors were so intoxicating, the tannins so present, acidity that makes your mouth water, and it complemented the meal perfectly. At the end of the evening we were left wondering "where is this town of Barbaresco, and where can we find more of this wine?" A quick google search turned up images like this one...

Serralunga d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy - a village near Barbaresco

I mean...come on! Look at how beautiful that is - ancient castles, the Alps in the background, the rolling hills, the vineyards! Mike thought it was a joke, some kind of photoshop trickery. So we started obsessively looking at pictures of the Langhe region (this region includes the towns of Barbaresco and Barolo) and reading about their culture and cuisine. The Langhe region is in Northern Italy in the province of Piemonte, a completely different culture than the parts of Central and Southern Italy to which we had already travelled. Piemonte borders France and Switzerland and like its name suggests, it is in the foothills of the Alps. If you're looking for wood fired pizzas, gelato, tomato based sauces you won't traditionally find those dishes in Piedmont. What you will find is a kind of hybrid Italian/French cuisine, fresh egg pasta, butter based  sauces and the prized white truffle.

We were sold, let's go to that magical place in the picture! So that's just what we did. We had the idea to travel with Liz's brother and his wife, who both love wine and are up for a good adventure. We instantly fell in love with Piemonte. The pictures online are incredible, but could not have prepared us for the real thing. Since that trip we have returned 3 times, and discovered countless more amazing bottles of Barbaresco, Barolo, Langhe Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera....all because of this one bottle. This whole thing was a bit serendipitous, really. Randomly buying a wine, loving the wine, finding ridiculously gorgeous pictures, having the vacation time already allotted in the not-so-distant future, having perfect travel partners, and then the Langhe worked its magic. I think we can both agree that the Langhe is now cemented as our favorite wine region in the world.  

So, cheers to you Orlando Abrigo, and your fantastic 2012 Barbaresco!

Dave, Carly, Liz, and Mike in Piemonte, 2017

Have you had any eye-opening wines and what were they? What is your favorite wine region? Let us know in the comments below.

112 views5 comments


pablo garcia
pablo garcia
Dec 26, 2021


I also had the Orlando Abrigo once and thought it was fantastic. I bought a bunch of bottles but next time I drank one I found not to be like the prior one. It was uninteresting , no vibrancy or complexity.

Now I still have 3 bottles or more of his stuff and feel that the wine will disappoint.

Not sure if it went down hill, there was bottle variation or just got lucky with the first one.

Just letting you know so don't buy lots of it !


Wow, those wines sound fantastic...we don't know much about the Bolgheri wines...sounds like we need to do some more research! Thanks.


No reply button to your comment! The Casanova di Neri's of 1997,1999, and 2001 are drinking beautifully. They also bottle a special cru called Cerretaldo which is worth the splurge. Equally high on my list of top Italians is Gauda al Tasso, a Bolgheri. Less exalted but one of our favorite everyday wines is Podere Sapaio, also a Bolgheri.


Thanks for the suggestion - we love opening Brunello, but try not to do it too often! We read a little about the producer - sounds like a more modern production to soften up the wine at a younger age? What vintages have you tasted and really enjoyed? Cheers!


Brunello is one of the greatest, deepest wines. My favorite, Casanova de Nero, Tenuta Nuova...

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