2009 Portalupi Wine Mendocino County Barbera

Mission Codename: Tradizione di Piemonte

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure an allocation of Portalupi’s prized Mendocino County Barbera.

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: Portalupi Wines

Winemaker: Tim Borges

BackgrounderBarbera, the third most planted varietal (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano) in Italy finds its most classic expression in the Piedmont and specifically in Asti and the much smaller Alba region also finds an exceptional home in California’s Mendocino County.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark ruby red with glistening streaks of bright ruby when held to the light. A clear heart of dense ruby red and slightly more pale ruby edges. When swirled, randomly spaced fat legs hang on the side of the glass and broaden as they descend to the wine below.

Smell – Earthy red fruit including plum, red cherry and raspberry blend with notes of exotic spice and dark mineral notes. Ripe sweet fig and zesty tar components invite a sip.

Feel – Plush, generous and round on the initial attack. At mid palate with vibrant acidity and finely textured but firm tannins grasp hold and blend with a little heat from the spice and additional texture from the mineral components.

Taste – Bright and fresh red fruit including red cherry, raspberry and red plum blend with exotic and hot spice and a solid dark earthy minerality. Hot spicy pepper follows and is framed by the rich red fruit flavors

Finish – Long and lingering with plenty of red fruit, spice and earthy dark minerality lingering and the mouth drying tannins and vibrant acidity lasts and lasts.

Conclusion – The 2009 Portalupi Mendocino Barberais a delicious example of this Italian classic. Great red fruit on the nose and palate, fantastic acidity and minerality makes this wine perfect for food and a complex but approach feel will make this wine a crowd pleaser. Enjoy this wine now or for the next several years and pair it with any of your classic Italian recipes.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Tim Borges

WINE EDUCATION: Self-taught. Audited enology classes at Santa Rosa, Junior College

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1977-1985 self-employed wine retailer (Two Street Wine &Cheese); Self-employed wholesale wine broker (Western Wine Marketing); Amateur winemaker, 1986-2002; General manager site developer (Cosentino Winery, Russian Hill Estate Winery);
2002-present owner/winemaker, Portalupi Winery

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Avoid being a (J.A.W.) just another winery

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “If the wine you’re having causes you to do more thinking than drinking then it’s probably not for you.



AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Tim. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Portalupi Mendocino Barberatoday. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

TIM BORGES: Great to be here with you and yourOperatives, Agent White!

WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

TIM: Sharing a glass of Almaden French Colombard with my mother when I was a teenager

WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

TIM: 3 wines inspired me, including a 1969 Chalone Pinot Noir Pinnacles Monterey County, a 1976 Montevina Barbera Special Selection Amador County, 1976 Carneros Creek Zinfandel Esola Vineyard Shenendoah Valley. As for winemakers, Mitch Cosentino, old Ying and Derek Irwin, young Yang.

WHITE: Who do you make wine for?

TIM: For my friends!

WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

TIM: The 2009 Barbera is classic Italian, D’Alba style. Unctous black mission fig,plum and subtle mushroom are the main flavor components, held together with great acidity and firm tannins the perfect match with rich Norther Italian cuisine.

WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

TIM: A traditional smoked egg plant parmigiana!

WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Mendocino such a special place for Barbera?

TIM: Northern interior Mendocino County(Redwood Valley) mimics the mother land of Piemonte,Italy where Barbera originates.Hot days during the growing season with cool evening breezes of the Coast Range similar to those from the Italian Alps also the similarity of slatey gravely soil which are similar in both Redwood Valley and the Asti and Alba regions of Piemonte.

WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

TIM: Preparing to bottle 2010 Reds and 2011 whites and then getting everything tuned for 2012 harvest.

WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

TIM: Think about a food that fits the wine, our wines are crafted to be enjoyed with all types of foods from Cheetos to braised lamb shank.

WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

TIM: remember there’s no right or wrong to what wine you should drink. It’s all about what works for you. Also, remember the best wines come from great grape growers who deliver their grapes to great winemakers – who in turn make great wines.

WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Portalupi Wines tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.

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