Eric Guido

Location: Ridgewood, NY

Food and Wine Writer for Snooth Media, Chef, Musician, Poet, Wine Lover, and Workaholic. Owner, Chef and Writer for The V.I.P. Table.

1999 Barolo and Barbaresco Retrospective

One of the most common discussions among Barolo drinkers are which vintages from the 1995 through 2001 vintage streak will rise to the top. It’s a debate that has been going on for years, and for quite some time, ’99 seemed to be a big question mark--until recently.

 

1999 had a great start, being a year that saw favorable conditions throughout the entire region. A warm summer with cool nights lent the grapes that much needed push and pull of heat to ripen, and a break at night retained balance and added aromatics. Maybe I was at a disadvantage, having never tasted these upon release. For me, most of these bottles were at least seven or eight years old before my first taste and may have been in a dormant stage. However, after this tasting, I can see that they are right on track. 

 

Most of these wines are just entering their drinking window. I wouldn’t put them in the same league as ’96 for ageability, yet I would say there’s at least a decade of improvement in store for the majority of wines we tasted. What was troubling was the number of bottles that appeared to be suffering from unusually high amounts of volatile acidity. Lastly, there was the revelation that our wine of the night wasn’t a Barolo—It was a Barbaresco. 

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo DOC Cru Brunate (1999)
Comments: The nose was highly expressive with black cherry and raspberry fruits, followed by soil, slate dust and earthy minerals with a hint of V.A. On the palate, it was silky with a full body, showing rich red fruits, sweet spice and saline minerals. It’s structure seemed to creep in with the second sip as drying tannin coated the palate, yet still managed to close with flavors of cherry and wild herbs.
Average price: $225.00 from 3 stores
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2 Brezza Barolo Cannubi (1999)
Comments: The ’99 Brezza Cannubi was a gorgeous Barolo with crushed red berries, roses, mineral dust, and tobacco on the nose. On the palate, it was elegant and finessed with ripe cherry fruit and minerals, which turned darker and more dramatic over time to reveal sweet balsamic notes. The finish showed red berries made tart by cheek-puckering tannin. This wine was youthful, with many years of development ahead of it.
Average price: $74.98 from 1 store
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3 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta (1999)
Comments: The Produttori Moccagatta was classic in every way, and having tasted it blind, was easily confused for being a Barolo. The nose started out muted, but with a short time in the glass, a bouquet of dried cherry, potpourri, menthol and dark, dark chocolate filled the senses. On the palate, intense tart cherry washed across the senses with notes of cedar but was quickly subdued by fine tannin. Penetrating red fruits stayed through the finish in good balance against this wine’s tense structure. The Moccagatta was dark, mysterious and truly seductive on the nose with a truly classic feel on the palate.
Previously available for $32.51
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4 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Colonnello (1999)
Comments: The nose was dark and seductive with cherry tobacco, plum, dusty potpourri a hint of musk and medicinal herbs. On the palate, it was velvety and perfectly balanced with masses of fruit. Sour cherry sauce and a hint of cedar filled the senses and warded off the silky tannins that were still present but not out front. On the finish, the fruit turned dry yet still intense with hints of sweet spices.
Previously available for $135.00
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5 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato (1999)
Comments: The nose showed sweet dark cherries and roses with spice and licorice. On the palate it was balanced and feminine with ripe cherry and spices, all driven by juicy acidity that brightened up the palate and nearly masked its underlying structure. The finish was fresh and juicy with inner floral notes lingering throughout.
Average price: $129.99 from 1 store
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6 Vigna Rionda Massolino Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda (1999)
Comments: The nose was restrained, yet found its center with time in the glass, showing a bouquet of bright spiced cherry, tobacco, sandy soil and saline minerals. On the palate, it was lean in body, showing notes of dried cherry, earth and mushroom with teaming acidity and a broad structure that took control and lasted throughout the finish.
Previously available for $197.94
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7 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Torre (1999)
Comments: The ’99 Barbaresco “Torre” from Produttorri del Barbaresco makes a serious case for the quality of their normale. The nose showed cherry fruit, dried roses and earth tones of soil, a bit of green stem and raw chestnut. On the palate, a rush of intense red berry fruit was followed by earth and mushroom with a chewy texture that gave way to tannin. The finish showed dried red berries with gruff tannin that was fine on this night but may one day overpower the fruit in this wine.
Average price: $162.86 from 4 stores
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8 Michele Chiarlo (1999)
Comments: On the nose, I found cherry fruit with oak influences of sawdust, cinnamon with an odd note of raw beef. On the palate, it was soft and juicy with sweet red fruits, coffee notes and spice. The finish was staying with red fruit, cinnamon spice, inner floral notes and cheek-puckering tannin.
Average price: $31.49 from 3 stores
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9 Attilio Ghisolfi Nebbiolo Barolo Bricco Visette (1999)
Comments: The nose was unexpectedly advanced, showing damp soil with cherry, herbs, floral rose and minerals. On the palate, it was soft with ripe cherry and hints of iron like minerals. Stern tannins showed through on the finish with notes of cherry and cedar staying through the close.
Previously available for $55.46
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