While getting ready to make my annual pilgrimage to Piedmont, I like to get reacquainted with some of the wines. I already have a tasting of 2008 Barolo, a vintage I have previously praised quite highly on my schedule. But with a tasting of 2009 on my schedule in Italy, I wanted to take a look at a similar vintage, one marked by warm weather and celebrated on release for the power of its fruit.
I was never particularly high on the 2000 vintage, though not as down on it as others. It's a solid vintage, a bit simple but with plenty of fruit, and good volume in the mouth. Never destined to make old bones, it is nonetheless Barolo, a wine that can easily age for decades. Now that we're 13 years past the vintage, the wines should tell the story of the vintage quite well. Are they still holding up? Can they age longer, or are they already heading over a cliff?
Barolo Vineyard image via ShutterstockEven this small set of wines tells a rather complicated tale. Many of the wines still wore a lot of their oak; 2000 was just past the peak of the use of barriques in Piedmont. Once you were able to see beyond the oak though, a relatively clear picture emerged, a picture of a warm vintage, yielding rich wines, with hints of roasted fruit and not a lot of detail.
Not terribly promising of course, but in truth these wines acquitted themselves quite well, further supporting part of the acclaim the vintage has received, and warranted. These are enjoyable wines, if not profound, rich and early maturing. I didn't get a sense that any of the wines were over the hill, and a few would reward further cellaring. It's a vintage to enjoy over the medium term, one that can serve as a fine introductory lesson to the beauty of Barolo, but which does not reveal the full beauty and power that the wines are capable of. Still, for the right price they are drinking well, and are a smart option for restaurateurs and restaurant-goers alike, offering a tantalizing glimpse of maturity at a reasonable price.
2000 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo
Warm and a bit toasty on the nose, with sweet floral and fennel pollen aromas over a base of prune and fig fruit. Air really helps this wine, adding savory root beer and sandalwood notes into the mix along with fresh herb, carob and rhubarb notes. Relatively opulent in the mouth, there are lots of fine-grained tannins here supporting spicy, briar-edged dark prune fruits. A little simple at first, though with good depth and power, this improves over the course of the night and promises to improve for years in the cellar. 92 points
2000 Andrea Oberto Barolo Rocche
There’s an obvious pop of wood on the nose that is followed by lovely sour cherry fruit backed up by rich leather and spicy BBQ sauce tones. The wood adds some vanilla here, and a measure of sweetness, but integrates quite well with air. Round in the mouth, with lovely freshness and acidity, this is flush with ripe tannins, precise chalky earth notes and fine mineral cut to the core of bitter cherry fruit. The finish is long, with a touch of pronounced bitterness yielding to sweet notes of lingering fruit, all presented with excellent focus. Another wine that rewarded time in the glass, this is drinking very well today and should reward a decade in the bottle. 92 points
2000 Elio Grasso Barolo Riserva Runcot
Quite fruity at first, the nose here gains some assertive minty notes with air as well as nuanced tar, earth, medicinal herb, and mushroom notes all topped with sweet toasted spice and vanilla notes. Big and powerful on entry, this is packed with sweet raspberry and strawberry fruit all wrapped in a chewy, broad mid-palate. The fruit offers admirable clarity and depth, though there is a touch of heat and some wood tannin does pop on the back end, but it doesn't interfere with the long, spicy and red fruited finish that holds its wood spice quite nicely. A bit polished and modern in that sense, this remains quite authoritatively Barolo. 91 points
2000 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito
Dark and earthy on the nose with a top note of mineral oil floating over a base of dark carob-inflected cherry fruit. On the palate, this shows great depth and while the oak is obvious, becoming more so with air, there’s a fine base of tight, energetic if brooding dark black cherry and prune fruit here. A powerful wine that shows dry wood tannins on the back end and lacks some textural detail in the mouth, but does exhibit good medicinal and earthy detail topped with toasty oak spice. The finale does show a nice return of dried cherry fruit, opening the door to additional improvement in the bottle, though my gut tells me that this is more likely to fade away than to undergo any fundamental change in the bottle. 91 points
2000 Altare Barolo La Morra
Offering up lovely notes of spiced black cherries, with hints of integrated wood, tar, licorice and antiseptic. This is perfumed and rather focused on the nose, gaining notes of mint, flowers and a touch of clove studded orange peel with time in the glass. Silky and bright in the mouth, with lovely depth and lots of polished fine-grained tannins, this is easy to drink with good length and richness, though it is a bit on the simple side. Air brings out the chocolate oak influence and dusty tannins on the finish that seem a little clumsy after the silkiness of the palate. 88 points
2000 Chiarlo Barbaresco Asili
Very pretty on the nose, with aromas of soft cherry, fresh herbs, shoe polish and braised fennel accented with hints of roses and iron. Silky on entry, this shows fine balance with a nice transparent core of wild cherry fruit accented with hints of leather and medicinal herbs. Rather light on its feet, this tapers off on a soft finish rich soil tones, if a touch short but rather elegant. Some harder tannins do appear on the finish, but they are well buffered on the palate, boding well for several years of positive development. Very finely textured. 87 points
2000 Paolo Scavino Barolo Riserva Rocche dell'Annunziata
Perfumey oak dominates the nose; this is packed with vanilla, sweet toasty wood spice and shows just a hint of fruit and tobacco. The entry is deceptively soft here, and this slowly turns chewy with prune and chocolate flavors before becoming a full-on assault of wood. Short, powerful and hot, the palate is tough and virtually impenetrable, with gentle suggestions of plummy fruit and tart lingonberries emerging on the finish. Today this wine is all about power and oak. I don't know if the oak will ever integrate but i do have my doubts. Today it is frankly tough to drink. 80 points for sheer mass, 65 points for pleasure.