Monday, July 25, 2016

Barolo & Barbaresco 1996, 20-Year Retrospective

Whatever happened to our dreams of 1996 being a great vintage? For over a decade, I’ve been pursuing this vintage with hopes that it would be another 1989, yet now I begin to wonder. Last year we put together a blind ‘96 Barolo tasting, and the outcome led me to believe that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. The odd thing about that tasting was that the best-performing wines were all produced in a modern style. That wasn’t the case here at our 20-year retrospective tasting.

At the 20-year mark, the majority of these ‘96 Barolos are still as hard as nails. What’s more, in some cases, the fruit appears to be receding and drying out, even as their tannin and acidity continue to power on. On this night, we tasted the best of the best, and when all was said and done, only a handful of them truly impressed. However, what a handful that was, as two of my top three wines are at the peak of the pricing pyramid and extremely hard to find. In fact, the most all-around enjoyable wines of the evening were from the Barbaresco flight, which did well here due to their more feminine and softer fruit profiles. Of course, three out of four were Bruno Giasoca, with Cappellano (a wine made from purchased fruit) scoring very high as well.

In the end, considering the list of names tasted here and the notes and scores I left with, I’d find it very difficult to recommend many of these bottles to the average consumer. While the Ca d'Morissio was drop-dead gorgeous and with a long life ahead of it, I only see availability in Europe, and at almost $500+ per bottle. My runner up, the Giacosa Riserva Asili can be had for $450+ in the US, which isn’t so bad when you consider the cost of recent vintages. That said, I won’t be seeking out any to buy. As for the Massolino Vigna Rionda, that’s the bottle that I would buy, assuming you can find it (for readers in the UK and Switzerland, you may be in luck). The Massolino was ridiculously close in quality to the top-scoring wines at this tasting. If you really want a great ‘96 Barolo in your cellar, that won't break the bank, then this is the one to hunt for.

So how long do we need to wait for these wines to come around? At this time, I would look to start drinking any ‘96 Barolo from a modern-styled producer. For the traditionalists, you’re looking at another 5-10 years or more. As for Barbaresco, with the proper decanting, these are just entering their drinking window.

 As is usually the case, whenever my vintage reports come back with any negative feedback, I’m sure there will be many who will call me out. However, what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t share my honest opinions with my readers? I hope I’m wrong, but at this time, ‘96 isn’t looking like the all-around great vintage we had all hoped for. At the top of the pricing pyramid, your chances of a great experience increases.

My advise is to tread lightly, and look for Barolo recommendations from those who have recently tasted the wines. As for Barbaresco, this tasting has tempted me to dig deeper, as this night’s examples were showing beautifully.

On to my tasting notes: 


(All wines were served blind in three flights. Bottles were opened between 9am - 11am, decanted for sediment, and then returned to their original bottle until the start of the tasting.)


Castiglione & Monforte d'Alba 


1996 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia - The nose displayed dark fruit, as blackberries dipped in liqueur, sweet spice and hints of espresso dominated. On the palate, it was soft, dare I say diluted, with notes of plum and tart cherry. It finished stern, with drying tannin and bitter remnants of red fruit. Everything about this wine made me believe it would be a modern-styled Barolo. (90 points)

1996 Vietti Barolo Rocche - The nose opened strangely, revealing notes of crushed seashell and saline-minerality. However, with time, the Rocche evolved with a display of floral undergrowth, brilliant red fruits and fresh green flora. On the palate, it was firm from start to finish, with earthy red fruits and intense minerality. Dried floral tones lingered throughout the finish, along with drying tannin and minerals. I had high hopes for this bottle, but it appears to be in a very closed phase. (91 points)

1996 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato - The nose showed dark red fruits, menthol, sweet spice and dried flowers. With time, its fruit fleshed out, as a beautiful expression of fresh roses appeared. On the palate, it was lean yet with persistent tart cherry fruit that stained the senses. It finished structured and tense, yet the fruit remained intact. I have to wonder if this may have scored even higher had it not been tasted next to the Ca d'Morissio. (93 points)

1996 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Ca d'Morissio Riserva Monprivato - This revealed a bouquet of dusty black cherry, dried flowers, dark exotic spice and crushed stone minerality. It was hauntingly dark and and floral. On the palate, I found pure fruit and saturating tannic structure, as tart black cherry steamrolled across the senses, leaving a trail of acid-tinged minerals in its wake. The finish was long and structured, with lingering notes of dried berries and inner floral tones. I can only imagine that this wine will see a very long life, and I seriously hope to be able to taste it again. (96 points)


Barbaresco (Or the story of three Giacosas and a Cappellano) 



1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Asili - The nose was deep and layered, revealing ripe red fruits, plum, sweet spice, tar, smoke and earth. It was dark, seductive, and even a bit savory. On the palate, I found silky-soft textures with spiced cherry and plum coating the senses, along with licorice and violet florals. It finished incredibly long yet balanced and fresh with inner florals and remnants of dried cherry fruit. As it was tasted blind, I had guessed this to be the Rabaja--looks like I should be buying more Asili. (96 points)

1996 Cappellano Barbaresco - The nose showed dusty florals up front, with ripe cherry, exotic spice, menthol and sweet floral tones. On the palate, it was vibrant with silky textures that caressed the senses, as dark red fruits and inner floral tones persisted well into the long finish. Its structure loomed, along with a coating of minerals and a hint of herbs. This may not be quite as moving as the last bottle I tasted, but it was still an amazing experience. (94 points)

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà - The nose was sweet and layered with dark red fruits, dusty florals tones and minerals. On the palate, I found soft, juicy textures with vibrant red berry fruit that coated the senses. Tannin came late and lasted long into the finish, along with lifted minerality and dark fruit. (92 points)

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Albesani di Neive - The nose was perfumed and floral with bright cherry and minerals in a very pretty expression. On the palate, I found soft textures with dark red fruits and spice, yet there seemed to be something missing throughout the mid-palate. It finished on dried red fruits and inner floral tones. On this night, the Santo Stefano came across as small-scaled and pretty, but not much else. (90 points)

 Serralunga d'Alba 


1996 Massolino Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda - The nose showed intense minerals, almost saline, with sweet herbs and dark red fruits. It was structured on the palate, yet showing intense dark fruits with a zing of brisk acidity before it’s still youthful tannin took effect and saturated the senses. It finished dry with a coating of minerals and tart cherry extract. This is still a baby, but it’s sure to enjoy a long and fulfilling life. (95 points)

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto - The nose showed dark black cherry and minerals, yet it was restrained and ungiving at this stage. On the palate, the fruit turned crystalline and brilliant with mineral-wrapped black cherry and dark herbal tones that shot across the senses. It finished on concentrated red fruits, iron and fine tannin. I feel like many of the other tasters were let down by the Falletto tonight, yet I found it to be youthfully poised to grow into a beautiful wine. (92 points)

1996 Cappellano Barolo Piè Franco Otin Fiorin (Gabutti) - The nose displayed an attractive mix of minerals, dusty red fruits, spice, and iron, all with a savory leaning. On the palate, I found dark, bitter red fruits and minerals with earth tones and inner florals. It finished on fresh herbs, minerals and earth, with a coating of gruff tannin that saturated the senses. As is often the case with Otin Fiorin, I have to wonder if it just needs more time to truly show it's potential. (94 points)

1996 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato - The nose was almost savory, showing olive brine and sweet herbs before turning to crushed cherry, brown sugar and dark chocolate. On the palate, it was silky but also a bit one-dimensional, with notes of red berry, smoke and a hint of minerality. It finished on dark red fruits, yet it was murky and partially restrained. Unfortunately, I feel that the fruit here simply didn't integrate well with Ornato's barrique oak aging. (89 points)

 Article, Photos and Tasting Notes: By Eric Guido

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The World of Terre Nere with Marc di Grazia

(The following write-up and reviews are the result of two days’ worth of focused tastings with Marc di Grazia.)

When asked if I would be interested in attending a ten-year retrospective of Terre Nere, my response was a resounding YES! For me, Terre Nere represents something more than just the sum of its already-impressive parts. Those parts being the location, winemaker, and pioneering methodologies. What Terre Nere represents to me is coming full circle with Sicilian wine and the impetus behind Mount Etna’s rise to the world’s stage.

When I think back to over ten years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to put an Etna wine against the world's top regions. In fact, the general consensus about Sicily as a whole wa
s that they were trying hard--but failing. That all changed because of Terre Nere. Yes, there were many great wineries before them, and a number of pioneers placed stakes and made moves on Etna. However, Terre Nere was the property that broke out of the Sicilian wine category and put Mount Etna on the map.

Much of this is the result of its owner, Marc di Grazia, whose unrelenting passion for Italian wine guided him to become one of the most famous exporters and innovators in the world. You see, Marc didn’t just discover producers to propel to international fame; he literally guided them to create a product that the world’s wine consumers wanted at the time. The list of Italian properties whose names are staples in the industry today may never have arrived if it wasn’t for this man.

So you can imagine that, when the time came that he wanted to buy vineyards and start his own winery, the entire industry waited with bated breath to hear where Marc di Grazia’s new project would be started. When the news came that it was on Mount Etna, an unproven and volatile region of Sicily, many people scratched the heads in wonder. What did he see in this region? Why would someone want to make wine on the side of an active volcano? Little did they know the level of success that would follow.

In truth, what Marc had done in creating Terre Nere was use the same skill set that helped him succeed as an exporter; he literally saw the potential in something that others missed. On Mount Etna, he found vineyards filled with ancient vines, complex soils, diverse climates and a myriad of possible expressions from a native variety that had the potential to make great wine: Nerello Macalase.

Instead of creating one wine, the choice was made to separate each vineyard parcel to express the diverse terroir of the region. With the majority of his holdings on the Northern side of Mount Etna, Terre Nere began its production with the 2002 vintage. In the grand scheme of things, success came quickly, as my first introduction to the brand was with the 2005 vintage, and already the industry was buzzing about the amazing wines then coming from Mount Etna.

So here I was, over ten years later, and in front me stood a ten-year retrospective, which was followed by a focused tasting of the ‘12 and ‘13 vintages. What was even more amazing was when Marc explained that he had never had the opportunity to taste so many vintages back-to-back, hence it would be an exploration for all of us.

A few of my general impressions:


Two of the questions I had always had regarding Terre Nere was how well they would age and what the drinking window would be on the average bottle. One of the best descriptions I can give to explain these wines and the variety to a newcomer is that they fall somewhere between the expressions and structures of Barolo and Burgundy. Each time I’ve tasted them through the years, I would wonder how the tannin would resolve and what would be waiting on the other side of the aging curve.

Vintage variations aside, I would say that a general guideline would be to wait between 6 - 8 years before they enter their early maturity. This was seen with the ‘08, ‘07 and ‘05 vintages (with 2006 still needing some time to soften).

As for the different vineyard designations, three now stand out to me the most. First is the Santo Spirito, for its early appeal, allure and elegance. Then there’s Calderara Sottana, with its layers of dark fruit, earth and classic structure. Lastly, the Prephylloxera, as it is a wine of such balance and elegance while remaining wild and savage. These three designations have formed my holy trinity of Terre Nere, but don’t sleep of the rest of the lineup. Guardiola, a vineyard at a steep, 30-degree incline, which sits adjacent to Santo Spirito but at higher elevation, is something of a perfect marriage between elegance and structure, while Feudo di Mezzo seems to be the most balanced and consistent wine of the group.


My thoughts on vintages after hearing Marc’s commentary:


  • 2014 was an unusual vintage of ups and down, yet with excellent results and producing alluring yet perfectly balanced and structured wines.
  • 2013 was difficult as it was wet and unusually cool through the fall. The wines are enjoyable today, but they lack the stamina found in better vintages.
  • 2012 was a dry, warm vintage that produced tiny grapes with thick skins. However, these wines showed enough structure to hold their ripe fruit firmly. They show beautifully with plenty of cellar potential.
  • 2011 was considered a classic, near-perfect vintage. Dry winter, mild spring, warm summer and perfectly timed rain in September led to an ideal harvest. Classic is the word here, as the wines I’ve tasted are of excellent quality with cellar potential.
  • 2010 was off to a good start with an equally beneficial summer, but ups and downs into the fall disturbed ripening. My only example to go by was the Prepylloxera, which show ethereal weightlessness. The jury is still out.
  • 2009 was a difficult vintage defined by a harsh winter, short summer and rainy harvest. The Guardiola was a prime example, being my least favorite of the flight with lean fruit and over-accentuated tannin.
  • 2008 had some irregular weather, including hail, yet resulted in a late ripening and ultimately beautiful vintage. Warm weather into the fall pushed ripeness to the limits, yet the Santo Spirito still showed very balanced. Past experiences have also been very positive, and I’d keep my eyes out for well-stored bottles to snatch up.
  • 2007 (Limited comments from Marco)--I would say this was a riper vintage, and the wine is ready now. I admit to checking wine-searcher for more 2007s immediately after this tasting.
  • 2006 (Limited comments from Marco)--Still structured but with the fruit to carry it for many more years.
  • 2005 (Limited comments from Marco)--Balanced, pretty, elegant and ready to drink today. Keep an eye out for well-stored ‘05s.

On to the tasting notes (by vintage):


2014 Terre Nere Calderara Sottana Bianco - This had a rich and robust nose, with ripe apple, peach, smoke, hints of tropical fruits, even banana. It was then freshened by minerals and florals with a hint of lemon zest. On the palate, a silky veil of ripe stone fruit covered the senses, providing a pleasing feel, as hints of minerals and inner floral tones set in. This finish displayed a buzz of vibrant acidity with hints of lime and stone lingering long. (93 points)

2014 Terre Nere Prephylloxera Vigna di Don Peppino - This showed an intense, exotic and deeply-layered nose, as savory cherry gave way to notes of charred meat and Indian spice before it turned fresh and invigorating with spiced citrus and wild herbs. On the palate, I found rich, intense yet silky textures, with savory cherry and spice giving way to sweet herbs and a hint of citrus. Is it grapefruit and brown spices or dried orange? It’s hard to tell, but the results are stunning. The finish was lifted and long with sweet tannin coating the senses, as notes of sour cherry and orange peel lingered long. This is drop-dead gorgeous--a truly wild yet elegant wine. (97 points)

2013 Terre Nere Prephylloxera Vigna di Don Peppino - This was a wine of beautiful contrasts, as intense spiced cherry was offset by soaring floral aromatics, smoke and black earth, in an exotic yet nuanced expression. On the palate, it was lifted and ethereal while saturating the senses with sweet tannin-wrapped black cherry, sweet tobacco and herbs. The finish was floral with fresh red fruit and minerals, yet its tannic clout lingered on. The '14 may be a step up, but the '13 is pure class. (94 points)

2013 Terre Nere Santo Spirito - The nose displayed dusty cherry and spice, with smoke-tinged minerality giving way to sweet tea and floral tones. On the palate, vibrant acidity mixed with silky tannin, providing a grippy sensation, as notes of cherry and sweet tea permeated the senses. It finished with dried red fruits and inner floral tones. The 2013 is remarkably youthful, feminine and perfumed. (91 points)

2013 Terre Nere Calderara Sottana - What a tremendous bouquet, showing olive and earth up front, followed by rich and massive wave of black cherry, currant and spice with hints of undergrowth. On the palate, it was soft and caressing, displaying ripe cherry and strawberry in a pliant and positively satiating experience. It finished with medium length, as its fruit tapered off and left the mouth watering. This wine was a gentle giant. (92 points)

2013 Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo - The nose was rich, showing black cherry and herbs with crushed stone minerality. On the palate, I found a mix of tart cherry and strawberry, which seemed to morph into an intense and saturating note of pomegranate, yet through it all a wave of brisk acidity provided a liveliness and mouthwatering experience. It finished with medium-length, displaying hints of wild berry and a twang of lively acidity. (92 points)

2012 Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo - What a gorgeous wine. The nose was dark and brooding with crushed stone and black earth up front. Dried raspberry came forward with time in the glass, along with dry cocoa and flowers. On the palate, it was silky with acid-driven vibrancy to its tart cherry and spice. It turned floral and mineral-like through the finish with a long and lingering note of sweet tea and smoke. This is so enjoyable today for its pliancy and richness on the palate, yet there’s a lurking structure beneath that is sure to carry it for many years (like Volnay). (93 points)

2012 Terre Nere Calderara Sottana - If I had to pick one wine from these recent tastings to put in my cellar today, this would be it. The 2012 Calderara Sottana was deep, rich, and vibrant. On the nose, I found dark earth, ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry, sweet herbs, dusty spice and minerals. On the palate, silky textures were contrasted by sweet tannin-laced black cherry, spice, cocoa and saline-minerality. It coated the senses throughout the finish with concentrated cherry and pomegranate, while hints of tannin lingered on. Wow! (95 points)

2012 Terre Nere Santo Spirito - The nose was intense and alluring, displaying crushed stone up front, then opening to reveal spiced cherry, dusty floral tones, a hint of herbs and green olive. On the palate, I found soft textures, which were contrasted by a core of spice and tannin-wrapped cherry fruit. Like a freight train speeding along a track, the fruit component seemed unstoppable and center-focused, saturating the senses. It finished on lingering spice, sweet tannin and a coating of concentrated dried cherry. I can only imagine that the future is very bright for the 2012 Santo Spirito. (94 points)

2011 Terre Nere Calderara Sottana - The nose was tense and deeply pitched, showing red currant and brown spice, contrasted by pretty floral tones and crushed stone. On the palate, silky textures were contrasted by a mix of minerals, spice, and tart cherry, then seemingly turning to ripe strawberry. It finished remarkably long on sweat tea leaves, spice and a hint of citrus. The ‘11 Calderara Sottana is a pleasure on the palate for its remarkably silky yet refined and elegant expression (all stone and rock soil mixed with black pumice). (95 points)

2010 Terre Nere Prephylloxera Vigna di Don Peppino - The nose was intense, giving and remarkably pretty, displaying sweet herbs and spice up front, giving way to rosy floral tones, a hint of red pepper, and bright cherry. On the palate, it was finessed and pretty with light cherry and inner floral tones This relies on beauty over power and comes across as quite classic. The mouth watered throughout the finish, as a coating of sweet tannin lingered along with citrus-tinged spice. (93 points)

2009 Terre Nere Guardiola - The nose showed dark fruits with hints of dried cherry and crushed raspberry, giving way to saline minerality and savory herbs. It was tense on the palate, as vibrant acid provided a buzz on the palate that resolved into saturating cherry fruit and herbal tones. Savory cherry remained through the finish, along with a coating of gruff tannin. (90 points)

2008 Terre Nere Santo Spirito - The nose started restrained, showing dried cherry and minerals, yet it opened dramatically in the glass, as hints of potpourri and exotic spice filled the glass. On the palate, I found silky textures with intense, densely-concentrated red fruit, which seemed to be wrapped in a mix of spice and sweet tannin. It finished on finesse and was quite pretty with dried red fruits and inner floral tones. (94 points)

2007 Terre Nere Calderara Sottana - The nose showed dark, brooding fruit with savory herbs and brown autumn spice, ultimately very pretty and finessed while adding a note of dried flowers. On the palate, I found silky, alluring textures with black cherry, strawberry fruit and sweet spice that seemed to coat the senses. It finished long, long, long on fresh cherry pits and minerality. This is so beautiful today, both focused and intense, yet ready to enjoy. There may be the slightest hint of heat on the finish, but it is an undeniably beautiful wine. (95 points)

2006 Terre Nere Guardiola - The nose was dark yet quite closed, showing plums, dark spice, crushed stone, black earth, and wax. It was angular on the palate yet still fresh, with notes of bright cherry and softening textures over time. It finished long on candied cherry, inner floral tones, and minerals. This still needs a few more years to truly come together, but it is already enjoyable. (92 points)

2005 Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo - The nose was pretty and finessed, showing spice-tinged cherry and minerals, along with dusty dried flowers. On the palate, I found a finessed and lifted wine with notes of dried cherry and inner floral tones. It was very pretty on the finish with a mix of tart cherry and minerals. This is ready to enjoy today. It’s vibrant through balanced acidity with perfectly resolved tannin and beautifully pure fruit. (93 points)



Article, Photos and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido
Originally posted at: The Cellar Table

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Is The Long Wait Finally Over? 2001 (15-Year) Barolo Retrospective

It’s 2016, and as fans of Barolo and Barbaresco, that means that we have a great reason to organize both 20- and 15-year retrospectives of two of my favorite past vintages, 1996 and 2001.  Plans for a ‘96 retrospective are in the works, but today I’d like to share our recently-completed tasting of 2001 Barolo.

2001 is a vintage that has a lot of meaning to me.  As a collector, it was the first classic vintage that I could taste on release.  Thinking back to those days, and all of the hype surrounding the 2000 vintage, I vividly recall the first of the 2001s arriving.  Compared to the 2000s, I couldn’t help but be moved by the ‘01’s sense of refinement and structure.  It was the first time that I had witnessed a wine that moved me emotionally, and although they weren’t pleasurable to drink at the time, it was possible to imagine, or forecast, the greatness of these sleeping giants.

The aromatics displayed an intensity of fruit that was held in check by floral, mineral and earth tones.  On the palate, we were presented with a glimpse of their potential as a pure core of razor-like focused fruit that steamrolled across the the palate, yet was then quickly smothered as a wave of fine tannin coated the senses.  The 2001s were finessed, mid-weight and built for the cellar.  At the time, I couldn’t even put these sensations into words, as it took tasting many more structured vintages before I truly understood what I was experiencing.

As I placed these wines into my cellar, I was fully aware that it would be many years before I could consider opening one on the basis of it providing a pleasurably mature experience.  I would shake my head in regret each time I read a tasting note on 2001 Barolo, for how could they possibly be ready to drink?

Then in December of 2011, my Barolo tasting group held our first blind 10-year retrospective on the vintage.  It was a painful experience.  Even as the wines had been decanted much earlier in the day, they were a wall of tannin.  We left the experience with palates that were lashed by tannin.  Doing my best to report back to readers on the vintage, all I could do was to use the small data-points that I was able to retrieve prior to each wine's tannic shutdown on my palate.  The broad message was that these wines needed more time.

However, what followed were a number of events that cast a worrisome light over the vintage.  First was a report from Antonio Galloni of Vinous in 2012 that reported that he had found a high percentage of cork-related issues as he completed his own 2001 retrospective.  This was followed by a number of tastings of my own, as well as by fellow collectors, where the wines were found to be overly austere, or in a state where the fruit seemed to be drying as the tannin remained firm and overwhelming.

For years now, we have all worried about the 2001 vintage, and so going into our recent tasting, there was a level of anxiety that was shared by the group.  Would these wines confirm our worries or put them back on track to being a youthful yet classic vintage?

I’m very happy to report that it is the former.  Our blind 2001 tasting showed a vintage of remarkable character that will continue to mature over the next two or more decades and is just now starting to show its entry into an early drinking window.  Are these wines ready to drink?  Absolutely not, but with a little coaxing, I’m sure you’ll have the same experience that we did.  As for the regiment, each member was instructed to open and double-decant their wine by noon for a tasting that started at 7pm.  When it comes to the cork issues that Antonio had experienced, we did have one corked bottle, but these things happen, and it’s difficult to either confirm or deny the problem without tasting a much broader selection of wines.

For the sake of providing a more indepth selection, I have included, with our blind retrospective, a small number of 2001 Barolo that were tasted within the last six months.  They have been marked as “Non-Blind!”.  Enjoy!


2001 Barolo Retrospective


(This was a blind tasting with capsules removed before bagging.  Most wines were double-decanted at noon. Bagging was done with no set order.  Attendees knew what wines were present at the table, but they had no information otherwise.)

Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia Riserva 2001 - An initial whiff of nail polish remover gave me pause; however, the ‘01 Granbussia came around in the glass to reveal ripe dark-red fruits, sweet herbs, and spice in an intense expression on the nose.  On the palate, it displayed silky textures with herbal-infused red fruits and a hint of bitter blackberry.  The finish was medium in length and slightly herbal.  Having tasted this on a number of occasions, I admit to being surprised by this night's slightly clumsy performance. (91 points)

Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2001 - The nose showed smoky cherry with minerals, dried leaves and hints of savory herbs.  It was dark on the palate, driven by minerals and tart black fruits, on a medium-bodied frame with cheek-puckering tannin.  It finished on dried cherry and hints of wood. Although this came across as slightly austere, there is some pleasure to be found in its current state of evolution. (92 points)

Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori Ginestra 2001 - The nose was deep in its spice-inflected dark red fruits, spice and earthy mineral tones.  On the palate, I was greeted by soft and inviting textures with dark, spicy fruits enveloping sweet tannin.  Earth tones emerged over time, as well and minerals and savory herbs.  It finished on palate-saturating fruit and a hint of bitterness. (91 points)

Gaja Sperss 2001 - I was greeted by a dark, intense, yet polished bouquet of black cherry, spice, tobacco and sweet herbs.  On the palate, brilliant red fruits, exotic spice, and floral tones were contrasted by hints of pine, earth, and fine-grain tannin.  The finish was long, yet inward in its tart black fruit and tannin, begging for more time in the cellar. (93 points)

Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis 2001 - On the nose, I found ripe cherry and minerals with dusty red floral tones, hints of spice and sweet herbs.  It was soft and alluring on the palate through its brisk acidity, displaying notes of ripe cherry, plum and earth.  Tannins mounted through the experience as the fruit seemed to saturate the senses, turning darker with time, leading into a finish that showed the structured youth of this young Riserva. (93 points)

Brovia Barolo Rocche 2001 - What an intriguing bouquet, as the Brovia Rocche seems to pull you deeper into the glass with its display of undergrowth and crushed stone giving way to charred meats, dark fruit and hints of herbs.  On the palate, I found silky textures, firmed up quickly by brisk acidity and youthful tannin, yet still showing focused cherry and strawberry fruit along with inner floral tones.  The finish was long, yet youthfully austere with remnants of dried cherry and minerals. (94 points)

Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero 2001 - The ‘01 Monvigliero is almost impossible to resist at this stage of its life.  On the nose, a display of exotic floral tones, savory herbs and black olive were offset by alluring notes of ripe strawberry fruit and minerality.  On the palate, I found soft, velvety textures with fleshy, yet bright and vibrant red fruit, sweet herbs and inner floral tones.  It finished on a note of sweet herbal tea and dried strawberry, with fine tannin that was nearly enveloped by it’s juicy and vibrant fruit. This was a real stunner. (94 points)

Cappellano Barolo Piè Rupestris Otin Fiorin (Gabutti) 2001 - The nose displayed airy and lifted red fruit with notes of dusty spice, menthol and licorice wrapped firmly around a mineral core. On the palate, it displayed radiant cherry and pomegranate with hints of spice and firm ’01 tannins, which provided a saturating and concentrated fruit sensation along with grip to spare. The finish resonated on fine tannin and lingering dried cherry and sweet herbs. (94 points) Non-Blind!

Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste 2001 - The bouquet was pretty but compact, showing black cherry, dusty soil, licorice, sweet spice and undergrowth. On the palate, it was tightly wound up in its structure, with notes of dried cherry, strawberry fruit, tobacco and savory herbs. It finished tight and restrained with dried fruits lingering long. This really showed the classic structure and tannin of the vintage with brilliant, focused fruit, yet remains many years away from its peak. (95 points) Non-Blind!

Vietti Barolo Rocche 2001 - The ‘01 Rocche was the personification of pure class and elegance.  On the palate, I found dark red fruits with a hint of wood, followed by floral rose, sweet herbs and spice.  Soft textures eased the senses, while brisk acidity gave life to brilliant cherry fruit, minerals and inner floral tones in a truly elegant expression of Rocche.  The finish was long with hints of fine tannin, dried cherry and lasting inner floral tones.  If you have the ‘01 Rocche in your cellar, then you’re in for a real treat.  If not, then what are you waiting for?  (95 points)


Article and tasting notes by: Eric Guido