I wrote yesterday about the 2009 vintage in Barolo and today I begin reporting on the wines tasted. with over 30 winery visits o the region last month there's a lot of wine to report on. I've included my notes below, broken down by visit in roughly chronological order. As you can see not everyone was able to present the 2009 Barolo for each of their vineyards, and several producers also poured prior vintages for comparisons sake.
In addition to the tasting notes you'll find some information, where available, for each wine or vineyard. As each visit does not follow a set plan, and conversations drift off topic with some frequency, there is no rhyme nor reason for these tidbits of information. I've included them because I believe that they add some valuable information which should help readers better understand each wine. i hope you find them useful! I'll be following up with the second half of this report later this week with additional articles on barbera, Dolcetto, and Barbaresco coming out soon after.
Josetta Saffirio - Monforte
Josetta Saffirio is a winery still finding their way, though it does seem as though they have found a path forward. The wines are very drinkable in a fruity, fairly modern but not oaky nor extracted style. Some may find them to be too fruity and frankly graph but for what they are they are quite attractive and easy to enjoy.
2000 bottles produced
Spicy on the nose and tight with a dusty overtone to the rosepetal and slightly minty wild cherry fruit framed with rose hips and camphor. Soft on entry, then this shows fine acid and lovely, slightly aggressive crisp tannins. The fruit has a bit of black raspberry to it and is very fresh and clear on the palate with just a hint of wood sweetness and oak flavors contributing complexity. Rather classically structured with lovely herb tinged wild cherry fruit on the moderately long finish. Has a nice, expressive core of fruit. 91pts
10,000 bottles produced
Chalky on the nose with an herbal extract note with leathery and slight campfire like accents. A little compact but with excellent depth and a lovely roundness that doesn't obscure the detail here. There's fine acidity and plenty of ripe tannins supporting the slightly medicinal core of wild blackberry and slightly grapy fruit. The finish is short and tight at this point, but this gains fine length with rich fruit and a fine spiced edge all leading up to a finely fruited finale. Excellent for the vintage. 90pts
2000 bottles produced
A little tight, just a touch fudgy with black fruit and some attractive spice notes all wrapped up with sweet rose petals and a touch of chocolate covered orange peel. Silky on entry with soft burnished black cherry fruit that is supported by finely integrated acidity. This peaks early in the mouth and shows a hint of dryness on the midpalate that leads to a bit of a short finish. Very refined and broad on the palate but this lacks some freshness and detail. The finish shows good fruit and significant powerful tannins. There's a little sweetness here that sort of balances the dryness but it's a powerfully built wine that also shows a bit of heat.
A tight little nose with gamy rose hips, rose petals, and faint red curranty fruit. This is round and immediately red fruited on entry with red cherry and raspberry fruit that shows a soft sweetness and fine strawberry seed spice. Tannins are well managed, present but unobtrusive with juicy acidity and a nice watermelon undertone to the fruitiness. Really fine wild cherry fruit on the moderately long finish that shows a fine medicinal edge. Fruity yet in a fairly classic style with super ripe tannins. 91pts
This opens with a deep herbal streak on the nose full of ivy and cactus, followed by an assertive floral note and fine raspberry fruit over sandy soil tones with a hint of wood spice. Showing a little roundness early on the palate, this has slightly more aggressive tannins than the 2009 Barolo Classico from Saffirio, with more savory complexity but less obviously sweet fruit. The finish is long and taut with a deep mineral streak and wild bitter cherry fruit. Another wine that shows abundant ripe tannins supporting savory complexity. 91pts
Monfalletto Cordero de Montezemolo - La Morra
Monfalletto is a historic property in La Morra that has managed to straddle the modernist/traditional line in many ways. The wines are solid and reliable, if rarely exciting though their Barolo from the Villero cru, Enrico VI does outperform the line-up.
Barolos see six days of maceration, then another ten days or so off the skins to ferment until dry. The Crus here are aged exclusively in barrique while the Monfalleto sees a larger variety of wood, toast, and size depending on the vintage.
5000-5500 bottles produced
The best part of the Cru with the maximum expression of Monfalleto.
Cedary, spicy, and floral on the nose with rose notes and incipient aromas of tobacco, Round and rather rich in the mouth with dark, almost meaty cherry fruit framed by nice spice notes and a touch of camphor and tobacco. There are plenty of tannins and good acidity here though a little too much oak with some wood tannin obvious on the palate but this has some very attractive fruit with incipient tobacco and macerated floral notes. 90pts
Draws fruit from nine hectares, 45,000 bottles
Toasty wood, cherries in alcohol and a touch of truffle greets the nose with a hint of herb adding some detail. Silky and soft on entry with nice ripe cherry fruit framed with hints of strawberry. This is broad and relatively clear on the palate with good acids and fine grained tannins that build on the moderately long finish. Nice if a bit simple. 88pts
9000 to 10000 bottles produced
More masculine with earthy base notes of fine dark fruit and black tea on the nose. This works with the wood better than the other wines here, showing a richness on entry, deep and elegant with a fleshy feel to the dark cherry fruit with a little black currant note and a fine earthy herbal edge to it. This has fine depth on the palate, powerful and complex with very pretty fruit that really pops on the backend and excellent length to the licorice and spice toned finish. This shows a fleshy richness that the others bottlings here don't with apparently softer acids,or simply more buffering flesh, 92pts
Vietti - Castiglione Falletto
The wines of Vietti have been somewhat of a moving target over the past decade or so, with changes from vintage to vintage. Today they've settled down into a style that is very clean and fruit driven, though the wines are classically structured. These have for years been among my favorite Piedmontese wines, but with the change in style I'm not as convinced as tot heir long term arability, not that that is a sign of quality.
The protocol for Barolo since 2010 is roughly:
All Barolo is fermented with a submerged cap and the length of fermentation/maceration is dictated by the development of the tannins in the wine though typically Brunate goes for about 21 too 24 days, Lazzarito a few days more, Villero about 30 days and Rocche five weeks
Brunate and Lazzarito then spend 3 to 5 months in barrique then at least two years in botte
Roche and Villero undergo malo in barrique then right to botte for at least two years
Typically about 20% of barriques are new
Spicy on the nose with notes of salted plum, dark cherry in alcohol with a touch of prune, tar and menthol, This is a little soft on entry though with nice tannic cut to the burnished fruit, that turns spicy and mineral earth rich on the back end, This is quite clear in the mouth, full of liquory wild strawberry and wild bitter cherry fruit and packed with fruit tannins on the fine aromatic finish with it’s hints of of citrus rind, and sapid, spiky acids that lead to a pop of cherry fruit on the finale. A pretty elegant wine in the making. 93pts
This is tighter on the nose with wood that is a touch more obvious though fairly well integrated into the dark and earthy aromas of chalk and bitter medicinal herb roots that yield to lovely notes of dried roses, balsamic, strawberry fruit, necco wafers, and a touch of menthol. At first spicy, then a little soft on entry, if decidedly clear and firm on the full bodied mid-palate that is tannic but not weighty. There are lots of dark, earthy flavors here that lead to a big cherry in alcohol finish that is long, focused and full of lots of firm tannins all culminating in a hint of truffle on the finale. 92pts
Balsamic on the nose with a bit of new wood showing over sadny soil tones and dusty, perfumed rose and strawberry aromas. Soft on entry with a chewy, fruit driven feel that features small red fruits with a slight jammy edge and a pop of strawberry on the backend. While this seems plush at first it’s actually packed with with plenty of angular tannins that cut the finish short, though the hints of lingonberry and very aromatic rose petals and balsamic aromas on the finish are promising. 90pts
Attractive mint, herb, and watermelon aromas greet the nose. On entry one finds tart cherry fruit delivered in a soft, broad style that is wide open today. Easy to drink already, this shows flashes of mushrooms and an earthiness that helps to frame the red fruit, turning fairly tannic on the modest finish. Perhaps a little light but elegant and really quite attractive and freshening. 88pts
Elio Grasso - Monforte
I've had a bit of a difficult time over the years with the wines of Elio Grasso, finding them excellent in the late 1980s-1990s, then less attractive through the early 2000s when the style, or perhaps it was just the weather at these warm vineyards, seems to have changed. The wines seem to have recently taken on a more elegant feel to them with a decidedly fresher palate profile.
Tends to have more sandy in soil, and is cooler than Casa Mate
Jammy fruit on the nose with a prune edge to the strawberry jam aromas that picks up subtly sweet and herbal rose petal note and a hint of cooked beetroot with some air. Broad with some tannin showing up before the acidity kicks in, this is a touch on the soft side full of ripe if slightly dull cherry fruit and packing considerable tannin. The tannin really clamps down on the finish and it's a bit on the dry side. Powerful but without finesse, though it does have a lovely core of limestone backed wild cherry fruit. 91pts
Spicy nose with deep earth, leather, tar and cherries in alcohol aromas. This is rather more classic than the Chiniera with incipient fungi and first floor aromas. Rich and round with riper tannins than the Chiniera, this has a lovely core of fruit, lightly spicy yet very aromatic in the mouth with tar, soil, and herb nuances framing the bitter cherry fruits. Really finely structured and balanced with excellent length, This has some palate staining depth of flavor and while it is a touch on the rich, soft side reflecting the vintage it is really finely crafted. 93pts
Lots of fine wild raspberry and strawberry aromas framed with some sweet vanilla and smoky cedary notes and a touch of fennel and rosehips greet the nose. Opulent and lush on the palate, this is packed with rich red fruits framed with a hint of coffee bean and some gentle herbal nuances. The oak is remarkably well integrated on the palate but does become more obvious on the finish with a drying center back of tongue quality to the tannins. Slightly chewy red cherry fruits on the palate, with some light mint and spice notes on the backend that drive the moderately long licorice laced finish that is cut short by the wood tannins, this is awfully good but the load of wood tannins is slightly troubling. 92pts
A little tight and herbal on the nose with lovely small cherry fruit, that really explodes on the nose showing a macerated edge and lovely leather and clay accents, with a slight hint of carob on the nose that grows in intensity, Fine acids greet the palate, with tannins showing a touch of roundness supporting lovely strawberry and tobacco laced fruit with wild bitter cherry notes. This is lovely with raspberry tinged fruit still very young but in an in-between phase. There’s lots of licorice on the backend and through the long finish, which shows some beet root. There’s lovely richness here with ripe tannins lending attractive tension to the elegant and long palate. No rush to drink this. 92pts
Guido Porro - Serralunga
Guido Porro is no longer the secret it once was, and the prices for the wines have increased, though they remain among the greatest bargains in Piedmont. There is no doubt that Guido's wines are rich and frankly fruity, particularly for Serralunga, but his wines are very convincing with a fairly traditional feel to them. The only knock against his wines would be that he is not afraid of alcohol, though I have only rarely felt the wines to be out of balance.
A new name for the base blended Barolo
Tight, sharp, and spicy on the nose with herbal notes framing black cherry in alcohol aromas and just a touch of truffle and dried orange peel working their way in here. This is wide open, on the palate with soft tannins, fine acids, and lovely burnished cherry fruit that shows off woodsy accents and deep rose petals on the lively, rich, firm mid-palate. This finishes with a long, aromatic and bright amarena cherry and floral quality but it certainly doesn't lack alcohol. Nicely done if a bit hot. 89pts
Produced from 40 year old vines with South Eastern exposure in Lazzairasco Cru. 28 days on the skins in 2009, though the minimum is 15 to 18 days vintage dependant. This spends three years in 25 Hl slavonian oak.
Production will go up to 6,000 bottles with new plantings that replaced dolcetto and small additions to the bottom of the vineyard.
This has a very direct nose with an early hint of tobacco, followed by icy mineral notes framed with an herbal nuance. This smells icy cool. On entry this is a little tight if fine and firm with tannins that show an edge of austerity. The mid palate is rich with lovely mineral laced rose petal and bramble framed black cherry fruit, that leads to a finish that is a bit tight and short, but does show some sneaky length,
A second bottle open three days prior was, more open but still tight if spicy with limestone notes and some small wild black raspberry flavors. Broader but still tense in the mouth, it displayed a really nice combination of rich ripe fruit that doesn't cross the line and fine lacy structure, with a modesty minty and medicinal finish.
An aggregate score for the two bottles: 91pts
Produced from 70 year old vines with a south/southwest exposition within the cru, this saw 24 days of skin contact and three months in botte.
More direct on the nose, which is really enticing with a slightly dusty, tea leaf, medicinal, and faintly woodsy aspect to the big prune in alcohol aromas. This is more open on the palate with that little woodsy, note accenting the core of dark cherry and plum fruit. This falls somewhere in the middle of the vintage stylistically with soft tannins, nice depth of fruit, and an excellent open feel, al leading to nice tension on the finish which shows dusty tannins and big licorice aromas,
A second bottle which had been opened ten days prior
Shows some evolution with a spicy, mushroom and camphor framed core of wild macerated raspberry fruit. This really broadens on the palate and sweetness up in the mouth with excellent late arriving depth of herb flecked macerated cherry and plum fruit, finishes with full tannins that are a touch dry,
An aggregate score for the two bottles: 93pts
Massolino - Serralunga
Massolino has gone back and forth over the years in regards to their style. Franco Massolino freely admits to trying just about everything to improve his wines, and also freely admits that some efforts were mistaken. Today the wines have returned to a rather classic style and are as good or better than ever. the 2009 Margheria in particular was a beautifully elegant wine deserving more attention.
15 to 18 days of maceration then aged in botte
Tight and small on the nose with wet dark earth, rose hips, fine earth, camphor, and wild cherry Aromas. This is soft and easy on entry with a nice freshness to the earthy wild cherry fruit. This is quite simple, hitting that earthy wild cherry note right through the moderately long finish and while this may not be the most complex Barolo around it is an excellent entry point for people. This shows the soft tannins that were possible in 2009. 88pts
1985 was the first year of production for Margheria
Produced from 35 year old vines in soils that are relatively sandy and chalky so the cru tends to produce wines that are lighter and more elegant. This wine comes from vines that face southeast and are located mid-slope within the cru.
Maceration typically lasts for 3 weeks followed by two and a half years in wood.
Super fine on the nose with high toned wild strawberries framed with fine spice notes. This shows a gentle sweetness on entry in a style that is very open and very transparent. There are lovely mineral notes early on the palate followed by pure red fruit with very clean woodsy spice notes and rose hip accents powering the moderately long finish. This is very pretty, and elegant really remarkable clarity on the palate, 93pts
The wines are vilified pretty much the same to underline the difference terroir makes
From vines that are about sixty years old, with full southern exposure planted on compact soils of fossil rich marn that deliver low yields and powerful wines.
Big and intense on the nose with lots of spice, licorice, strawberry jam, bit of prune, touch of cocoa and something gently floral. This is dense and a touch raw in the mouth with lovely freshness to the fruit, Again one finds nice clarity but the Margheria has this beaten on texture today. There’s big depth of to the wild cherry and stone flavors that lead to a clean finish that shows quite a bit tannic weight and minty and camphor aromatics. This show age quite well. 91pts
First vintage was 2007
Big fruit on the nose, which shows of aromas of cherries and rose petals along with something sweet and carob like topped with a touch of watermelon rind. Dusty, and deceptively soft and broad on entry, this shows an early hint of lime zest on the palate before this turns rather intense with lots of tart red fruit and masses of tannins. There’s less detail than with the Serralunga crus but more weight with intense raspberry fruit that trades power for focus. his s a wild card, it might turn into velvet monster or may just remain the chunky powerhouse it is. 90pts
From the central part of the hill, 1.5 hectares facing south, 1 hectare facing southeast.
Very ripe if rather classic with aromas of over ripe red fruits in alcohol, a bit of a balsamic tone, some waxy lipstick, some white soil tones as well. In the mouth this is rich, clear and fairly broad retaining great focus to the raspberry, mineral and slightly herb tinged flavors really pop on the palate. The fine grained tannins add gentle support here and while this does taper off a bit on the finish, showing a bit of heat, this remains fairly elegant in light of the vintage. 91pts
Opened the day prior to tasting
What an explosive nose filled with spices, ripe fruit, tar, a big limestone note and some nettles and just a hint of nuttiness. This is silky in the mouth with lovely acids and super fine tannins showing excellent integration and yielding a gorgeous mouthfeel. This already has lots of truffle and mineral notes forming around the youthful core dark fruit with big tannins clamping down on the chewy finish. With time that completely knit together mouthfeel while extend over the finish, and this remains very young but full of promise. 94pts
Opened the day prior to tasting
Gorgeous on the nose,just filed with tar, earth, animal, wild herbs, spiced cherry and plum aromas with a hint of root beer. Silky and perhap a touch faded from being opened for 24 hours and a little warm to boot, but this shows exceptional power, with cool firm fruit that is slightly more rustic than what get made today. The long finish shows mineral and superb fine grained tannins in an elegant but powerful style. This should continue to improve for quite some time, though the fruit seems to have already taken a back seat. 92pts
Opened the day prior to tasting
Classic Rionda nose of iron, seeds, dried rose petals, spice and small red fruits shows lovely freshness and detail. This is another silky wine though it’s a bit tired and lacks some focus on the palate, again from having been opened the day earlier, though it is chewy and powerfully with late arriving acidity and truffle notes layered over faded rose petals and spicy red fruit with lots of mineral notes and still with tons of fine grained tannins, While not fruity this remains powerful and young with a long limestone finale, 94pts
Opened the day prior to tasting
Leafy and evolved on the nose but with fine mineral and red fruit notes. This remains powerful if somewhat rustic in the mouth with red cherry fruit and fine mineral cut. This is quite remarkable with distinctly evolved flavors and yet a lovely youthful texture and a ong, fine finish. Could stand some more fruit but it had been opened for 24 hours. 90pts
Luigi Pira - Serralunga
The wines of Luigi Pira definitely lean towards the modernist side of the equation, though working with fruit from Seralunga it seems as though the effects are less obvious than for other producers. In the past the wines struck me as frequently too extracted having traded elegance for power, and while this still seems to be the case with the Vigna Rionda, the other bottlings from 2009 show much more restraint, particularly the very attractive straight Barolo.
9000 bottles produced from three small vineyards, all aged in 25 HL wood
Meaty, spicy, and rather nicely expressing Serralunga terroir, on the nose. This is a bit spicy on entry with a slight black medicinal tone, a light touch of wood and wild strawberry fruit in a lean, fresh, crisply styled wine. The tannins are abundant though ripe, showing a hint of dryness, and the acidity pronounced if well balanced, all contributing to the lovely clarity on the palate. There’s nice length to the earthy finish with an incipient hint of porcini. You could teach a class with this. Classic Serralunga Barolo 92pts
1.5 hectares of 53 year old vines planted in chalky, clay soils producing 7,000 bottles per year. Aged in large format wood for two years.
Limestone immediately on the nose over dark, dried black cherry fruit with hints of kind of black small seeds/watermelon seeds the way they are aromatic in the mouth. This feels a bit forced perhaps but it delivers big black fruit that is medicinally framed and full of minerality, with nice cut on the palate, a touch of late arriving dried mushroom, and tar, and a big finish with lot of power to the long clear black fruit finale, 92pts
A little over 2 hectares yeilding about 9,000 bottles a year. This is aged in 500 liter barrels, 25 to 30 percent new for the first year before being transferred for a second year in big wood,
Meaty and floral on the nose with rose petals and some nice minerality but the red currant fruit shows both sweetness and assertive medicinal notes. This is broader on the palate, richer with a little less verve than the Margheria, though it does show fine minerally and tarry depth with gentle wild raspberry notes over the mineral cut, The tannins are also softer and the wine fades away on the finish more quickly ending on a somewhat diffuse note. 90pts
One hectare producing about 4,000 bottles a year. This spends one year in barrique, about a third new, then a second year in larger format wood.
Shows some toast and vanilla on the nose over black fruit, shoe polish, tight, small red berry fruit, and a bit of dr pepper spiciness with that hint of vanilla married to black cherry fruit. Soft and supple on entry, and surprisingly open, showing good focus on the mid palate with lots of mineral laced fruit and very fine tannins but the tannins continue building in the mouth cutting the finish a bit short. Wow this is extracted with massive tannins on the finish but even through the tannins the fruit, with hints of rust and red currant, is fighting to get out. This might very well prove to be too tannic for the fruit here. Time will tell. 88pts
Cappellano - Serralunga
I'm not sure there is much to say here. Classicism defined
Tight on the nose which is a bit leathery and gamy, with hints of a little campfire, some nuanced stone, mint and medical notes, and then a really pronounced rose stem aroma. This is incredibly fruity early on the palate, before displaying tense tannins and gaining earth, dried herb, and dried rose petal notes that flood the palate, The tannins are nervy and the acids pronounced if buffered nicely by the density of fruit. Today there's a certain softness, laid back style here, and this lacks the vivacity of the top vintages, but the long finish full of cherry and licorice notes, and the very fresh, clean style is promising, though this closed quickly in the glass so beware its closed phase. A classic Barolo in a clean, enlightened style.
Luciano Sandrone - Barolo
Long one of the leading modernists, the winemaking of Sandrone has changed little over the years, though the wines do strike me as more elegant and transparent than those produced even just a few years ago.
Lots of prune and dark berry in alcohol on the nose framed with notes of wood spice and a touch of chocolate. This is rich and soft,with good depth of fruit and lots of tannin that turns a bit dry and splintery on the palate. There’s decent acidity supporting a nice jammy core of raspberry, blackberry fruit that finishes a bit tightly and lacks some drive but makes up for it with length of fruit, with a bit of alcohol showing up on the finale. 88pts
Perfumed with aromas of cut red fruit and chalky soil tones over a nice base of oak spice. Air brings out classic roses and cherry in alcohol with a fine white soil tone. This is rich with soft, opulent fruit that remains fresh even though it's quite ripe. While not particularly tannic, there is nice cut to the fruit, and a bit of austerity to help play off the sweetness of the fruit. That cherry fruit lingers on the fairly long finish which is bit spicy with coffee tones and a hint of tar arriving late. Easy, and yet fairly intense. There’s a fair amount of wine here. 91pts
Tight wild berry fruit on the nose shows off a bit of earthiness with fine dried herb notes and soft toasty oak adding detail. Fresh, angular tannins pop on entry followed by lovely tiny cherry fruit, roses, pomegranate, and a little purple fruit on the palate. This shows silky integration with aromatic fruit on the moderately long finish. This is tense and precise with good aromatic freshness, 92pts
Tight and a bit oaky on the nose with a little black cherry framed with some rose notes. This is soft if texturally complete in the mouth silky without being opulent and showing fine cut cherry fruit on the palate, with a late arriving herb and limestone note, This is just a bit austere and dour today,with the wood tannins showing a bit on the finish, which shows a lovely blend of fresh fruit and soil tones. This is tense and elegant, showing classic Cannubi austerity, but the wood is a touch intrusive. 89pts
Brovia - Castiglione Falletto
As I have said before, I don't think anyone is making better wines today than Brovia, with one or two very expensive exceptions. Over the past 15 years the quality here has improved vintage to vintage, and the access the brovia family has to some of the best Crus in the region has resulted in a line-up of spectacular wines. My preference has been and remains the Rocche and Ca Mia bottlings, but it is tough to go wrong with any of these classically styled wines. Withtheir current pricing, I would say that if you wanted to buy only one producer's Barolos it would have to be brovias.
More or less three week long fermentation, the crus get fermented in wood, other wines in SS, 100 Hl aging,
Twenty to thirty percent of the crus, and Brea’s (Ca’mia) younger vines, which here means about twenty five years old as the fruit from the really young vines gets sold off, goes into the Barolo Classico, meaning more than seventy percent comes from Serralunga,
Awesome nose, full of balsamic notes with a green pine edge to the small red fruits, with an assertive camphor top note. This shows fine intensity, focus and balance on the nose Round and powerful on entry this shows slightly pruny fruit , in a good way over a base of rich cooked cherry character that is laced with minerality through the moderately long finish. Yes this is quite ripe in flavor but it does manage to retain excellent freshness and is really a gorgeous wine, 92pts
A tight nose with fine herbal, mineral and black spice notes and a touch of musty earth sits cool and compact in the glass. This is intensely fruited,full of bitter cherry fruit supported by superb ripe tannins, showing super integration, This has the slightly austere aggressive quality of Rocche, but in a particularly open style, that is nonetheless not easy to understand. The nose and long finish share emerging smoky herbal and licorice notes and a pop of wild strawberry fruit . There’s a lot going on here, with tremendous potential for the future but this is a bit hard to get a handle on today. 94pts
Lots of dark fruit on the nose which offers up a nice blend of balsamic and rose notes. This is soft and broad in the mouth, with good acidity and modest tannins supporting simple red fruit framed with a hint of camphor. This is wide open and easy to drink already with a clear fresh feel that turns a touch short on the finish. A rare miss from Brovia. 88pts
Very ripe cherry fruits in alcohol on the nose are framed by sandlewood, a hint of nutmeg, some meaty nuances and late arriving jammy strawberry notes. There’s an initial opulence to this wine, though the early arriving acids lend brightness to the plump, slightly jammy cherry fruit. This is a little spicy on the palate with a touch of minerality, and lush tannins, really beautiful in an immediately approachable style that is packed with fruit. Slightly less evolved and more tannic than the Villero, this is very typical of the vintage. 92pts
Deeply earthy on the nose which shows hints of slightly peppery spice along with meaty/umami prosciutto and hoisin aromas. Tight and reserved on entry, one can sense an innate sweetness here, wrapped as it is in soft tannins. This is lovely, very ripe but with typically dark and savory Serralunga fruit, that gains detail from late arriving sandalwood, strawberry and rosehip notes. There’s plenty of tannin here, even if they are a bit soft, This is opulent if not quite as open as the Villero and Garblet Sue, opulent in a Serralunga kind of way, silky and long. 93pts
Wow this is filled with slightly figgy, slightly smoky configure of wild cherry and plum fruit on the nose. In the mouth this is almost salty due to the profound minerality. There’s a core of tobacco framed fruit that is powerful with cool fruit, incredible depth, real complexity and brightness to the fruit, and finesse in the mouth. The tannins pop on the long finish, and this is really packed and chiseled that I would expect it to be a tannic beast soon, but today it’s just firm with so much buffering material that the massive, noble tannins, don't appear until the long finish. 94-97pts
Camphor, leather, dark earthy, and damp cigar butt nose come together on the slightly spicy nose, which is tight but does show hints of a bit of hot tile, and mineral notes that recall magnesium or aluminum all topped with a suggestion of eucalyptus. Smooth and seamless on entry, this is weighty, powerful and deep with a backend that is packed with mineral notes and precise tannins. This shows incredible depth but it does lack some of the finesse of the Rocche. AIr slowly brings out some aromatic complexity with herbal and medicinal notes growing in the glass but this will require patience. It has incredible power and should turn out to be epic. 94-96pts
Lovely aromas of spiced red fruit, a little bramble, and a little meatiness gains a nice dusting of salty minerality over sour plum fruit with some air. This is a bit sweet on entry, with a nice slightly chewy texture featuring balanced acids and tight grained tannins acids. There’s a touch of alcohol showing, along with some dark plummy fruit on the finish which picks up tar and balsamic notes. Shows an approachability already that is surprising. 90-93pts
Very pretty pale cherry fruit on the nose with a tart edge that is joined by sweet tobacco, a little sage, mint and licorice accents. This is very well integrated already, smooth and rather lush, with lovely ripe tannins. This has power and elegance in a slightly warm vintage style, well knit together. Today this is much more integrated and better balanced than Rocche with lovely rich dark fruit and a slight bitter/medical edge on the slightly minty long finish. 92-94pts
A special bottling to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Brovia. A historical blend of Rocche and Villero, one that was very popular before Crus took over, that spent 5 years in botte. Bottled exclusively in magnum.
Lovely sandalwood, red licorice, and dried peach aromas greet the nose followed by light grey/black spice tones, a touch of ash and dry white clay. This is silken on entry, with burnished cherry fruit that is a touch lean and mineral before gaining nice black cherry pit fruit framed by licorice notes on the mid-palate. This has a sweetness to the tannins, and lovely wild cherry fruit on the backend that leads to a long savory finish, showing rosehip and mint nuances, along with a bit of alcohol on the finale. This is old school to the max, their Monfortino to their Giacosa-esque regular crus. 93pts
Elvio Cogno - Novello
The wines of Elvio Cogno have struck me int he past as dependable but these recent releases are on another level. Great traditionally produced wines that combine power and a cool elegance, I found these immensely attractive and worth searching out.
15 year old vines 100% Lampia clone, that spend about 30 days on the skins, aged in botte.
A lit fleshy on the nose with hints of bologna and nuttiness under some dried peach notes, with smoky, tart red fruit. Soft and broad in the mouth with good acidity providing nice cut to the wild cherry fruit on the palate, which is just a little loose. This might be a little simple but with an attractive combination of power and transparency, with the fruit turning a little black cherried on the backend. The long finish shows nice length with fine slightly dry tannins, and hints of licorice and plum. 90pts
50 year old vines, 10,000 bottles produced , thirty five days ferment, then aged in botte
Deep on the nose with hints of iron, fennel, a bit of herb, and a bit of wood here as well. Rather compact and cooler than the Cascina Nuova, soft and very approachable in the mouth with nice tannins supporting stony cherry pit fruit that shows nice detail and clarity in the mouth. The tannins here are well managed yet retain a nice touch of austerity lending this lovely depth on the backend with a deep stemmy, herbal incipient mushroom note. This is elegant and refined, in a pure and authentic Monforte style of Barolo. 93pts
22 year old vines at the top of the cru and 64 year old vines lower on the slope, in a vineyard that straddles the Monforte/Novello border. Always thirty five days ferment, then aged in botte
A fairly big confiture nose of red and dark fruit with a hint of plumminess that turns a bit smoky, deep, and soil driven with air showing lots of tobacco and cherry in alcohol, and a little mint. On entry this is a little chewy and powerful, with an elegance to the tannins, but lots of power, packed tight with fine grained tannins that supports black licorice and black cherry fruit on the mid palate and through the nice powerful finish. 92pts
100% Rose clone, which is notoriously scarce in pigment so to help fix color consistent temps during maceration, are important along with a very slow fermentation, 28C normal, 22C during last days of a 20 days fermentation, with cappello sommerso for 10 to 12 days. 8,000 bottles produced
Very pretty if rustic nose rich with strawberry, limestone, rose petals, candied cherry aromas. This starts out a bit hollow on the palate, lacking some height in the mouth with decent acids, and tannins that are a little raw, turning quite assertive on the back end The modest red fruit on the palate show a bit of woodsy character turning a bit tough and a bit compact on the backend which shows nice wild strawberry and lemon zest notes that leads to a moderately finish full of tannin and a bit of heat. The balance is a little off here. 92pts
Paolo Scavino - Castiglione Falletto
Scavino is a name that is virtually synonymous with the modernist movement in Piedmont. the wines have always struck me as rather soft, fairly heavily oaked, and a little chunky. the line-up tasted today certainly illustrates that they are taking a different tact with each of their wines and some appear to more successful than others, though my old impressions hold generally true. Taken as a whole these remain rather soft, fruity, and oaky wines.
All new barriques are used first for barbera, second and third passage used for Barolo which see six to seven months of small wood then passes to botte for one year
Ferments with natural yeasts, about 20 to 25 days to go dry, maceration depends on vintage, can go from six days in very warm years like 2003 up to 18 days in more classic vintages, depends on the skins and maturity of vintage, really like elegance in the wine don't want extremes, fruity and opulent or hard with tannins or austere.
25,000 bottle production from a little less than a hectare in San Bernardo, maybe ten percent of Barolo is Serralunga, Vignane two hectare, Terlo a little more than half hectare, Albarello less than a hectare, Mariondino a hectare, Altenasso and Vignolo less than half a hectare each
Smelling like a bowl of cherry fruit topped with hints of sandalwood, rose hips, and other woodsy spice. Sweet and round on entry, this shows off lots of red fruit and soft tannins in a rather loose and fleshy style that finishes quickly with a pop of black cherry fruit. A bit pedestrian. 86pts
60 to 70 year old vines from Rocche, Bric del Fiasco, and and Cannubi in roughly equal parts.
This has a pretty nose, noticeably toasty though with strawberry seeds, a little tar and licorice, and milk chocolate, aromas. Noticeably soft and supple on entry with nicely presented fruit on the mid palate showing good tension and a fairly long finish. There's a sneaky touch of sweetness here early on that minerality washes away on the backend. Soft, supple and fruity with creamy and sweet oak accents. 89pts
Purchased in 2000
The high toned nose shows toasty spice but more floral edged raspberry and strawberry fruit, macerated Frutti del Bosco and rose petals. This is showing very well, silky with soft rich tannins and very expressive fruit, very aromatic in the mouth, and showing some nice soil tones. The fruit here lacks some brightness, but shows assertive fruitiness in a rather soft style. 88pts
From 40 year old vines, first produced in 2007
Has a suggestion of thyme on the nose that could lead to tapenade with time. This is a rather gentle nose, showing a hint of white mushroom and a bit of raw milk chocolate oak. Very supple tannins great the palate followed by red fruits with a hint of apple skins on the mid palate along with a small spice note. This is very easy drinking with a decent length finish showing red fruit with some spice and obvious wood tannins. A bit on the lean side. 88pts
Sixty to seventy year old Michet vines. started in 1985 to makes this cru.
Lovely red cherry fruit in alcohol on the nose which is fairly ripe with accents of white soil, tobacco, sweet floral notes and a bit of talc. Rather elegant on entry with early notes of wild cherry and small raspberry fruit followed by a bit of toasty wood, then rose petals, soil tones, and incipient tobacco tones. This shows some of the classic Cannubi character, focused lean and slightly austere with a moderately long limestone and wild cherry finish. 91pts
Cut plum, smoke, tobacco and chamomile come together on a very floral and spiced nose with the wood playing a supporting role and late arriving dried fruit accents that turn into chocolate covered cherries with time along with strong minty top note. Powerful and broad on entry with dried cherry fruit and some nice limestone notes, along with a touch of savory beef jerky on the palate. This has a softness that covers the palate, a pretty feminine style in a voluptuous way, with good length and a bit of wood tannins lingering and building on the finish. the oak is quite obvious here. 90pts
Big fruit on the nose that shows lots of dried fruit character along with savory, sweet root beer notes, a bit gummi bear like with some heat, and camphor and menthol top notes. This is very rich on entry with lots of red fruit that shows a bit matte in the mouth. There’s a fair amount of tannin right up front along with bright, candied dark cherry/black cherry fruit with a touch of coffee on the longish finish. Not terribly 2007 in fact, if one ignores the alcohol. The finish shows some really lovely red fruit and rose floral notes, with the wood being fairly well integrated. 91pts
Cavallotto - Castiglione Falletto
The wines of Cavallotto tend to be rather traditionally made, though with some exceptions, such as that rotofermentor int he cellar. Still the wines are quite attractive, and show a remarkable consistancy, faithful both to their terroir and the house style. On this day the wines showed an assertive herbal edge which was not off-putting to be but certainly more pronounced than I am familiar with.
This is pretty complex on the nose starting out in an earthy vein with a sweet carob note that's almost fudgy, then deep herbal notes with hints of quinine and mint that are almost peppery followed by cherry pit fruit with a hint of dried meats. Nice tannins are supple if abundant on entry with lively acidity supporting a nice core of cherry fruit that shows a hint of tobacco and some roasted fruit edges. The finish is a touch short with dry tannins shutting things down fairly quickly. 89pts
More directly quinine and herb scented on the nose with ripe dark fruits, a bit of plum and dark berry. Smooth and finely balanced on entry with soft tannins and integrated acids underpinning nice wild cherry/ touch of black raspberry fruit with nice dried herb hints. This is very elegant, with lovely darkly ripe fruit that remains fresh, with good focus and excellent flavor definition in the mouth. The small but classic tannins add a nice dry edge to the finish, which turns a bit chunky and inelegant, and almost sweet with fruit. This just needs some time to fully integrate. 91pts
A bit of rose over strawberry confiture greets the nose followed by a little meaty braised veal sweetness along with limestone, quinine and mint accents. Soft and open on entry with juicy acidity highlighting the small cherry fruit. This is a bit simple but shows a nice blend of richness and freshness, with good power and follow through on the long, limestone edged, small cherry fruits and gently herbal finish. 91pts
A bit stinky on the nose and not particularly clean. This offers up unusual aromas of grass, toast, and some beefy aromas along with a very earthy licorice root note. Soft in the mouth with decent acids and a cooked fruit profile of plum and dark cherry with a strong medicinal overlay that has an earthy sweetness to it. This is quite tannic and dry, the tannins seem a bit woody and seem out of proportion with the wine here. Not a good showing for this wine. 80pts
Limestone on the nose is followed by notes of cut grass, sweet mint, a little root veg , and a hint of toasty coffee. There is lovely balance and elegance in the mouth with its black cherry core framed by gentle notes of peach and limestone. There’s a great aromatic lift to the lovely finish, which shows great tannins in a cool and compact style that is full of fresh fruit accented with a tarry note and lent real drive by the juicy acidity. 92pts
Big red fruit, floral, and leather aromas dominate the nose over a minty base note with hints of tar creeping in along with a lightly spicy note. This is elegant and finely balanced, very broad on the palate but this lacks a touch of height at the moment. The tannins here are quite refined, allowing the lovely bright juicy fruit with layers of mint and tar to flow across the palate and through the fine long finish. Showing nice tension in the mouth, this just needs a bit of time to fill out a bit but it doesn’t strike me as a wine for long ageing. 91pts
A little steeped herbal, marmite nose, with a touch of caramel and root vegetables filling in under the core of small, slightly stewy red berry fruit topped with a touch of espresso foam. This shows some big fruit on any, that leads to a nice core of tarry dark fruit and tobacco, all nicely cut with soft tannins. Like the nose this is very savory, and not terribly fruity, but intense and fresh with a big tannic finish that does soften nicely with air. The finish is a little medicinal with a cherry cough syrup aspect and a hint of pomegranate fruit. This really does soften quickly with air, don’t hang on to these. 89pts