I LOVE THIS WINE! Titouan has been one of my absolute favourites wines that we have been fortunate enough to carry since we launched Organic Wine Club! I will never forget the first time I tried Barbera, at a staff wine training session in a hotel where I was a restaurant supervisor. Back then the purpose of those sessions like those was for, well a session! But amongst all of them I discovered a wine that I actually sort of liked, and I fell in love with Barbera back then in 2009.
Fast forward to today, and after what seems like a lifetime ago I get to spend today exploring, sharing and gushing over this exceptional Italian grape and a truly exquisite organic wine. I’m sure that you may have read or listened to me drag on previously about this wine, but I promise I will try not to sound like a broken record!
The Vineyard's History
This organic Barbera is from the vineyard Castello Di Tassarolo, which is owned by the Spinola family. The Spinola’s seem to be an interesting family with a long and prosperous history that dates back to the 14th century. They’re based in Tassarolo Castle, with the current owner Massimiliana Spinola, which was built in around 250 A.D. around a Roman fort. After gaining a vast wealth and influence, they have been connected to some of the greatest names in history, including Christopher Columbus as they funded half of his trip to discover America. They even have a portrait hanging in the castle of Brigida Spinola that was painted by Rubens! Having also been connected to the Papacy, the Austrian-Hungarian empire and Doges of numerous Italian states before its unification. Considering this substantial ancestory, the only person I can think to compare this too is Cosmo Di Medici.
But we’re not here for a history lesson, let talk about the wine!
A Biodynamic Belief
Currently the wines that are made here are certified organic, biodynamic, vegan friendly and made with as little sulphites as possible. They are made with as much respect for nature and life by Henry Finzi-Constantine, a London boy and Massimiliana's partner, who as a student studied anthropology and the works of Austrian Rudolf Steiner who’s philosophy of biodynamic farming came to life in 1924. The estate has been working following these methods since 2006 when Massamiliana took over the estate.
Biodynamic practice has a few different elements to it, but overall, it’s about bringing harmony to life by working with nature. At the Tassarolo vineyard they have replaced tractors and machinery with heavy horses. These horses help with pest control, fertilisation and, lets be honest, are much more interesting to be around than a tractor! To any animal lover out there, the most incredible dedication comes from knowing that the wine is named after the first horse to arrive, Titouan.
Finally, The Wine!
This biodynamic red wine is awesome! It’s made as naturally as possible with no sulphites or additives added at any point. After the organic Barbera grapes are hand harvested from very select plots in the Municipality of Tassarolo in Piedmont, they head into the winery, where again everything is done by hand. The wine is vinified in stainless steel to help ensure that the grapes are treated with as much respect as possible following the completely natural ethos of the vineyard. The stainless-steel means that the wine will only have the flavours its meant to as nothing can be imparted or altered unlike wines that are matured in oak barrels.
With no sulphites, additives, yeast or sugar added to the wine, Titouan is 100% Barbera and as natural as it possible can be with only 20,000 bottles produced every year. When you open this bottle and pour, it’s an intense purple/red colour and just screams out luxurious and velvet! Despite this luscious looking texture, the wine is exceptionally refined and elegant. The bouquet will only offer you the typical Barbera characteristic of dark cherries and dark berries.
But when you taste this organic wine, it will surprise you. It’s soft and warming with very rounded and sophisticated flavours of what can sometimes feel like a stewed cherry bakewell tart. Its gentle nature when your supping away, offers something that’s different in comparison to wines usually made from this grape. The dark cherries and sour vanilla flavours of this Italian grape make it something that is better enjoyed when it’s chilled, but not this wine!
The finish in this wine lingers and continues to surprise you. After the contradiction between the wines appearance and its taste, the finish offers a velvety feeling that’s warm and comforting. There is so many different ways to enjoy this wine, white meats from the barbecue, game, tomato breads with fine pates or over a selection of mature hard cheeses.
But honestly in my opinion, if you want to really enjoy and get the absolute most out of this wine, open it and serve with fresh spring lamb cutlets with a very simple dark sauce. I did, and I don’t even like lamb!