Mary John Baumann, DWS

Accredited wine expert with advanced wine education, sales and lecturing talent. Creative marketer with demonstrated success in global marketing and development of leading multinational luxury brands.

PIEDMONT: A STEAMY AFFAIR WITH NEBBIOLO

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Marcarini Barolo la Serra (2008)
Comments: From sandy, south facing hilltop soils in La Serra, this elegant expression of Nebbiolo is deceiving at first, with its medium ruby color. Behind the robe, a very intense nose of dark cherry, kirsch, balsam and rum provide a seductive introduction to this single vineyard bottling. High acid and high, fine yet grippy tannins mesh nicely with spice, ripe fruit and high alcohol at 14.5%, Very concentrated and complex with a very long finish. Ageing for two years in new Slavonian oak botti from Austrian Franz Stockinger delivers a spice and oak tannin kick to carry this huge wine through decades of cellaring. Traditional Barolo winemaking at its best!
Average price: $53.99 from 4 stores
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2 Marcarini Nebbiolo Barolo Brunate (2008)
Comments: The 2008 Brunate is Marcarini's icon wine, a true expression of this top quality site with very intense savory aromas of tobacco, mocha, truffle, leather and candle wax. It is a more "masculine" interpretation of Barolo and a true masterpiece created by winemaker Manuel Marchetti, a passionate steward of the Marcarini family wines. With signature high acid and fine grippy tannins perfectly balanced with 14% alcohol, it is the most concentrated of Marcarini's two single vineyard Barolos, massive yet elegant.
Average price: $57.75 from 15 stores
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3 Marcarini Chinato (NV)
Comments: A rare digestif native to Piemonte, Chinato is a mysterious blend of bitters and botanicals infused in a base of dry Barolo, then fortified to 16% alcohol. Addition of a good dose of sugar at Marcarini makes this Chinato a complex elixir, perfect to follow a rich Piedmontese meal. Marcarini uses a combination of quinine bark, rhubarb and citrus, as well as a secret blend of spices. Aromatically, it is reminiscent of mulled wine, or Swedish Glogg. But the similarity stops there, On palate, it is a rich, viscous, sweet liqueur with pronounced bitters, caramel and vanillic flavors balancing nicely with high alcohol. It is a complex and stirring digestif perfect for pairing with the local Budino, a chocolate infused pudding. Marcarini Chinato is available stateside imported by Empson
Average price: $31.99 from 1 store
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4 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sorì Ginestra (2009)
Comments: At the opposite end of the spectrum in Piemonte, modern winemaking is very much alive at Conterno-Fantino's chic, state of the art winery atop the village of Monforte d"Alba. In addition to delivering panoramic 360 views of the Langhe, the estate delivers top quality Barolo taking full advantage of roto fermentors to achieve maximum extraction and new French oak barriques to coax forth both power and finesse. Sori Genestra is planted on clay soils at 1,300 ft elevation. The 2009 vintage spent eleven months in new French oak barrels, ten months in tank and nine months in bottle. Its purple flecked color is notably deeper than most Barolos, echoing the masterful extraction techniques in place. The highly extracted nose reveals very intense violet and rose notes layered with sweet spice and truffle. A very complex wine beautifully marrying sweet aromas with savory muscle. A huge wine with very well balanced high acid, grippy tannins and high alcohol. Very concentrated and long for cellaring at least a decade, or perhaps save for the grandchildren?
Average price: $88.94 from 24 stores
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5 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Nei Cannubi (2006)
Comments: Tasting through the wines of Poderi Einaudi in Dogliani with the convivial and charming Matteo Sardagna is a job I could look forward to year after year. As great grandson of the highly respected first president of Italy, Matteo wears many hats and has a strong grasp on managing every aspect of this venerable, historic winery. While best known for working magic with the Dolcetto grape in Dogliani, the Einaudi wine that most distinguished itself from all other Barolo's was the exceptional 2006 Barolo Cannubi. Cultivated on south, southeast facing Tortonian soils combining deep sand and calcareous clay, the celebrated Cannubi hill rises to an altitude exceeding 700 feet.. Einaudi 2006 Cannubi is deep ruby in color with a purple rim. Very intense aromas of balsam, rum, cinnamon, violet and rose are joined by savory tobacco and truffle, Structurally, this is a mammoth wine proudly showing terroir and careful extraction in the cellar (pumpover, submerged cap and delestage are all used). The wine was aged 18 months in French oak (30% new) and 18 months in large botti. A magical and magnificent Cannubi to seek out. Imported by Empson.
Average price: $80.00 from 5 stores
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