Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cellar Note: 1996 Albino Rocca Barbaresco

Piemonte is one of the greatest wine regions in Italy and indeed, in all the world.  What makes it so special, is that the wines produced there are unique. They are distinct to that place, and are not grown anywhere else in the world with the same level of commercial and critical success. They are truly indigenous and have their own soul.  There are dozens of varietals grown there, but the majority of wines are made from Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. It's the latter that provides the great wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. 

Barolo and Barbaresco are both full bodied, tannic wines, with complexity and nuance. If a generalization is to be made, it is that Barolo is the King, and Barbaresco the Queen.  Yet the distinction between the two is not that great. I once summed it up as this:  Barolo can be like getting hit with a 2x4 three times.  Barbaresco only hits you twice. 

In this installment of CellarNotes, we pulled a wine from the Eurocave that was gifted to me quite a while ago.  The 1996 Albino Rocca Barbaresco Brich Ronchi was opened about 45 minutes before dinner and served alongside a roast pork covered in sage, garlic, and parsley.  Pan roasted cauliflower accompanied.

This single vineyard wine is dark garnet and still very youthful looking despite it's 16 year age.  The nose was immediately striking and complex.  Aromas of dark cherry, new leather, fennel and smoked meats are noticeable.  Wonderful aromatics.  In the mouth, the wine is still very tannic, and more austere than I would have expected. It's full bodied, with a moderate core of cherry fruit, that seems to have already faded a bit.  There are slight traces of mineral and anise as well, however, the wine is rather tannic and throwing a large sediment.  I wonder if there will be fruit left once the tannins resolve more fully.  Overall, very good - just not what I'd hoped.  89 points. 

1996 Albino Rocca Barbaresco

Check out the aftermath in my glass.......

There was at least this much crust formed inside the bottle.  Amazing!


  1. John, very informative, and sad. Yes, sad, because I've heard it said that a wine is a "living thing", and somehow there's this palpable let-down even just reading this. I see this elegant label, I have an idea of what a mature Barbaresco should be, and then, almost like meeting the artist who can't possibly live-up to his/her art, the wine is no better than a good Chianti, but the redemption is in the honesty of the post, and for that I thank you.

    1. Dennis,

      You are right - wine is alive. Sometimes when you've got but 1 bottle of something, you crack it when you think it will be best, based on age and your own preferences (I like older B&B) but sometimes you miss a wine or two. That's why I always try to buy in 3's. But still, the only way to learn where your own preferences are is to taste wines like this occasionally. Then we appreciate it all the more when we "nail it". Cheers my friend!

  2. I had a 1989 Field Stone Cab last weekend. It was good, but I was surprised that there was very little color change. It also didn't taste as mature as I thought it would. I love Field Stone, & their Cab & Merlot are regulars at my house. I almost felt cheated because I thought that a wine made 2 years after I graduated high school would've been more....dramatic, I guess. But hey, it was lovely, regardless.

  3. Claire, I'm not familiar at all with Field Stone. Can you point me to some information? I would think I could find it out here, but can't recall seeing it. Could always use a nice "house red" from CA. You know where to ping me. :)


    It's a smaller production, eco-friendly winery in Alexander Valley with a fairly low-profile but lots of respect from their peers. The wines are on the extracted side, which I love. Their "Convivio" Red is a great & inexpensive bottle with a cool blend that you probably wouldn't like on sight (Merlot, Cab, Syrah & Sangiovese), but it's worth a shot. I usually pick up the Cab & sometimes Merlot. They have a reserve Petite Sirah that's divine.

  5. Alright, I love Sonoma reds and they give great value compared to Napa so I will surely look them up. Thanks!