2008 Massolino Margheria $85

Stewy, wild cherry fruit greets the nose, in a good way, with freshening top notes of herbs and a hint of nutmeg. This is very fresh in the mouth, precise and layered with aromatic wild cherry fruit, earth, herb and that haunting little nutmeg tone. A wine with wonderful balance, elegant and very well done. Fresh tannins with some clay notes on the finish and a finale that shows a hint of espresso foam and strawberry. 92pts 

2008 Castello di Verduno Massara $75

A bit of new wood greets the nose. It’s integrated but there, and not detracting from the very clean and rather precise aromas of jammy, small berry red fruit and some spiced plum notes. On entry, this is very cool and lean. Really quite elegant in the mouth with a lovely feel. Bright, fresh and layered and showing wonderful fruit framed by faintly bitter cherry extract and spice notes. The ripe tannins carry though the finely fruited finish. 92pts

2008 Oddero Brunate $85

Cool and composed on the nose and full of white soil tones, dried herb, a little white pepper, salty minerality and a little cocoa, topped with subtle hints of wild mint. This has a bit of a soft entry, with early acid and tannins that arrive late on the palate and seem to be very sweet, accenting a nice lingonberry/wild raspberry tone. There’s a hint of black fruit on the transition to the finish, which is tight and firm and built on tannins.These again show a wonderful ripeness and a lovely, tangy sour raspberry finale. 92pts

2008 E. Pira di Chiara Boschis Cannubi $90

This is showing a fine nose with lovely floral perfumes, a bit of lightly peppery spice, red fruit and a hint of Chinato. There’s a little prune on entry, joined by dry, firm tannins that make this a bit dark and reticent on the palate. It’s made in a firm, masculine style but it’s not a big wine. The beautifully framed fruit has good energy on the finish though late arriving wood tannins add a sapid note. This is firm and seems to be a bit closed, but it has everything in place to be wonderful. 91pts

2008 Burlotto Aclivi $40

This is really soil-driven on the nose and turns quite sweet, with finessed raspberry fruit accented by hints of rose petal, a little quinine, red apple skin and bit of herb. In the mouth, this is round and very lively on the mid-palate. Vertical acids, ripe tannins and a savory core of woodsy herb notes support woodsy red currant fruit. This then turns darker and more licorice-toned on the rich finish. Good power, lovely ripeness to the tannins, almost ready today. 91pts

2008 Oddero Barolo Classico $40

With a more herbal bent, one finds rosemary edges here over fresh tar, roast pork, ash and what smells of a little of sweet wood. Nicely fruity and rich in the mouth, this shows some austere tension with a nice, open feel and fine clarity on the palate. The fruit is redolent of cherry with a little wild berry and an incipient sweetness on the back end. All in all, this is very clean and precise right through the finish, which ends with a nice flourish of herb. 91pts

2008 Schiavenza Barolo Brolio $60

Perfumed on the nose with aromas of wild herbs, earth, a hint of sharp mint and lightly burnished ripe fruits. This is focused and high-toned in the mouth with light, sweet wild raspberry and lingonberry fruit on the palate. This has very pure fruit and real clarity and tension on the palate, gaining a dark wild cherry note, bit of heat, a little spice, mace or nutmeg, and a slight bit of medicinal bitterness on the finish. The tannins are very ripe and well managed here. This is almost ready to drink. 91pts

2008 Barale Bussia $80

Earthy and full of mineral water freshness on the nose with base notes of meat, salty earth, salted plum, camphor and sour cherry fruit. A lovely mouth-feel. This opens to be fresh and clear, rich with bright and precise inner mouth perfumes of wild herbs, sour wild cherry and strawberry. The ripe tannins are soft, making this not rich or powerful but fresh and perfumed. A lovely finish is built on the fine, savory tannins and nice, spicy strawberry fruit. 91pts

2008 Cordero di Montezemolo Bricco Gattera $75

This is quite aromatic with notes of menthol, blackberry jam, ash and chalk on the nose. Light-bodied on entry with a bit of woody bitterness early on, then turning fresh and juicy with black cherry fruit on the palate. A fruity style that lacks the weight of previous vintages, but the fruit is quite fragrant, clear and long with a lovely interplay of black raspberry and herb on the finish. Not my style but very successful in this paradigm. 91pts

2008 Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate le Coste $110

A bit tight and a touch dirty on the nose, as is sometimes the case here. Experience has shown that this will clean up nicely. On entry, this is wonderfully textured, elegant, round and plush with great depth of fruit. There’s a nice spice tone here, fine minerality and delicate cherry fruit on the palate. The cherry fruit returns on the finish along with fine herb hints and some strawberry seeds for a particularly long finale. This needs the nose to clean up a bit, but shows promise already. 91pts

2008 Massolino Parussi $80

The nose here is a touch jammy with black cherry fruit topped by light spice notes and a high-toned hint of watermelon seeds. Cool and a touch compressed on entry, this shows lovely balance with very ripe tannins and integrated acids supporting licorice and earth tones, all over the burnished red fruit with a little pomegranate seed exoticism in the mouth. There is fine balance and power on the back end, though this seems a touch extracted. Finishes quite strongly with mint, a bit of warmth and fennel notes. 91pts

2008 Brezza Sarmassa $60

Furry on the nose with notes of mineral, iron, a little sweet wood, astringent lingonberry fruit, juniper, incense and Slovenian oak. A bit soft on the palate though nicely rich and broad in the mouth, this has nice acid with flavors that are tending towards a woodsy, almost autumnal spice quality. The ripe tannins are supportive and there is a nice follow through on the tight finish with red lingonberry fruit and a hint of menthol. 90pts

2008 Brovia Barolo Classico $50

Liquory red cherries in alcohol and sandalwood aromas along with a nice shading of wild sage and fine raspberry notes lend this a very classic bouquet. Downright opulent and soft on entry before the very fine, ripe tannins kick in to lend a little spice to the very transparent palate. That savory spice edge adds some complexity to the red fruit here and the bright acids keep this nervous in the mouth. Fine length on the finish shows this to be another wine with super ripe tannins. 90pts

2008 Brezza Barolo Classico $40

Wild raspberry wafts from the glass along with aromas of licorice, tar, hints of woodsmoke and tree bark. Moderately rich in the mouth, this is bright and taut with soft but abundant tannins and lovely red fruit on the mid-palate. Nice follow though and a very classic profile. This remains very fresh with a lovely, gentle quality to the tannins. Fruity but taut and succulent. 90pts

2008 Vajra Baudana $75

A bit candied on the nose with curious if attractive notes of bacon and medicinal herbs, like an infusion of herbs with some sweet tarry notes. This is very fresh in the mouth with lovely fruit that is bright up front, but then turns a bit brooding and matte in the mouth. Delivers wonderfully ripe strawberry and dark cherry fruit. A hint of plum skin, really fine orange rind and black tea complexity appear on the back end and right through the moderately long finish. 90pts

2008 Brezza Cannubi $60

Red currant, red cherry and burnished leather in alcohol come together on the nose along with licorice and something vaguely medicinal and vaguely beefy. There’s a softness here and a gentleness to this wine, which exhibits lovely ripe tannins, nice acid and pretty fruit. Really clear and well-defined style that relies more on bright acids than tannins. This is airy and just lacks a hint of firmness. 90pts

2008 Burlotto Barolo Classico $45

Lovely herbal and balsamic top notes over wild raspberry fruit with hints of dusty earth and rose stem on this perfumed nose. This is wonderfully bright and tense on entry with juicy fruit that shows lovely purity and finesse. Transparent up front with a nice load of vivid raspberry fruit. Amarena cherry on the back end is accented by a hint of white earth ash and nice savory tannins, which underpin it all. A great introduction to Barolo. 90pts

2008 Schiavenza Barolo Prapo $60

Prune and plum dominate the nose with soft spice notes that show light mint and a little cinnamon extract on the nose, along with hints of camphor and fruitcake. Very soft and expansive on entry with a rich, medium-bodied feel. This is perhaps a touch monotone with soft tannins, though it is snappy and spicy on the finish with a cinnamon pepperiness. This shows some early complexity with a little oxidative orange note on the back end of the mid-palate and tannins that seem a touch dry on the finish, but it all comes together quite nicely. 90pts

2008 Pecchenino le Coste $70

Pretty fruity and spicy on the nose with a hint of juniper, Chinato spice notes and holiday spice cake aromas. Nicely balanced and intense on entry with fine tannins and lovely balance. This is on the elegant side of things with nice height in the mouth, fine balsamic fruit, a little camphor and a lifted finish. Aromatic finish shows lovely complexity and inner mouth perfumes. 90pts

2008 Silvano Bolmida Vigne dei Fantini $50

Lovely nose is bright, fresh and lightly herbal with floral top notes and a fine core of wild herbs, leather and wild berry fruit. In the mouth, this starts out softly but with fine intensity and precision to the herb-inflected fruit flavors. Almost grassy in the mouth with slow to emerge violet pastille and licorice-tinged blackberry fruit. This gains tension and turns taut with some nervous acidity on the back end. The finish is a touch short today but aromatic, fresh and bright. 90pts

2008 Mario Marengo Brunate $70

Pretty perfumed nose is built on a base of spicy oak, small red fruits, wild raspberry and lingonberry with some espresso foam. This is light and fresh in the mouth with a lovely, fresh raspberry inner mouth perfume accented by strawberry seeds and very well integrated wood spice. The moderately long finish shows more of a strawberry aspect but remains light fresh and fruity. Very easy to drink. On the fruity soft side but people are going to love this. 90pts

2008 Barale Fratelli Castellero $50

Seared stones, lingonberry jam, sandy soil, prosciutto skin. Very soft tannins and good acidity with nice intensity of flavors on the leathery end of the spectrum. Nice and broad in the mouth with really good depth of flavor. Intense cherry and almost plum fruit here with a deep bed of savory elements and mint on the finale. The wine finishes with a suggestion of warmth and spice. 90pts

2008 Francesco Rinaldi Cannubbio $60

This is very clean and fresh on the nose with strong notes of raspberries framed by light herbal accents and a touch of white pepper. Nice fruit on entry with real cut to the palate, which delivers a clean and pure expression of red berry, raspberry fruit with fine tannins, bright acids and a nice soft finish. This is juicy and bright with really wonderful tannins and a finish of liquory cherry fruit. 90pts

2008 Ascheri Sorano $50

Tight and polleny nose with a bit of black olive and black tea, with small wild cherry fruit lurking underneath. This is light and fresh on the palate with an emerging herbal tone over the fresh strawberry and plum fruit, cut by mineral and licorice notes with some dried orange pith. The finish is clean and fresh, continuing to add nice cut and freshness. A bit earthy and savory. 90pts

2008 Josetta Saffirio $60

Big jammy fruit on the nose is full of blackberry and mulberry with a bit of orange peel and a touch of complexity. This is smooth and rich in the mouth. Quite a powerful wine with very ripe tannins and an impressive dry extract that lends this a deep old vine feel, with an almost chocolate earth edge to the fruit. The finish is dry, dark and a bit angry, leaving one with an impression that this is not fruit-driven, yet it remains intense and fresh. I would love to see what happens to this in the cellar. 90pts