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  • By Jon Rimmerman
    4/8/2010, (See more on Garagiste...)

    (ICARDI Nej Rosso) Pinot Noir

    Dear Friends,

    Here we go again...

    I knew this wine was revered, but its underground fame can hide no longer.

    Against my own better judgment (my "in" box is already full with 2009 Bordeaux questions), I'm about to pose a loaded query to arguably the most ardent, curmudgeonly, know-it-all audience in the wine-world - an audience that will defend their Burgundian position to the tarmac...

    Is this the finest Pinot Noir in the world? Ah, no.

    Better yet, is this among the finest examples of Pinot Noir in the world circa $25?

    Now that is an interesting question that deserves further contemplation.

    Palates differ, tastes run to the right or left and everyone has their own stuck-in-the-mud notion of what Pinot Noir should taste like but...whether it's from Oregon, Chambolle, Victoria, Central Otago, Russian River, etc - all of us seem to have one definitive idea of what makes the essence of Pinot Noir.

    You can add Piedmont to that list.

    I've tried in vain to find a single bottle of the 2007 Nej (on three different trips to Italy) but I finally acquired a parcel this morning. A wine that is basically "unavailable" outside the confines of the winery, this side project of Icardi has taken on a life of its own that has nearly eclipsed their long-standing tradition with Nebbiolo and Barolo. Completely overhauled with the 2007 vintage, this wine has very high aspirations (the first few experimental vintages of Nej, 2001 - 2004, were not very good).

    98pt wines are not the norm and certainly not under $50. In addition, Luca Maroni (sort of the Italian equivalent of Tanzer) takes great pride in tearing down the most heavily hyped wines and an 89 or 90pt rating from him is considered exceptional. I'm not sure how many 98pt scores he's bestowed for a new-release red wine, but it's certainly not many. In this price range, it may be the only one.

    With that, I present to you one of the highest scoring, most elusive examples of Pinot Noir in the world at a price that deserves a double-take (don't even bother looking this up on wine search databases - you probably won't find it anywhere in Europe or in the US and the winery refuses to sell any direct, even to walk-in customers). Why is it so cheap? They priced it before the rating came out and have stuck to their original tariff card - I applaud them for that. After the acclaim of the 2007, we'll see what the 2008 costs next year ($100? Think 1997 Lamborghini and what happened to the price of that wine):

    With regard to the review below, there are too many subtleties in the dialect, etc to translate so I'm going to abide by Luca's wishes and simply reprint it in the original form (my translation would miss the emotion and nuance). I believe the enthusiasm is evident from what you can glean (even if you don't speak Italian), not to mention the numerical score speaks for itself:

    Whatever your predilection with Pinot Noir, the 2007 Nej appears to require further study...and that includes popping the cork and taking a sip.

    ONE SHIPMENT ONLY for the US directly from the source with perfect provenance:

    2007 Icardi "Nej" (Pinot Noir) (LM98)

    Thank you,

    Jon Rimmerman
    Seattle, WA


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