|Vineyards in Barolo|
Over the past several weeks, we have been tasting selected 2008 Barolos in order to provide this comprehensive tasting report. As TuscanVines always insures, all wines included were tasted with a variety of foods. All wines were decanted at least 45 minutes in advance of tasting in order to allow the wines to breath and remove any sediment. Off we go.....
Parusso Barolo "Mariondino"
From vineyards in Castiglione Falleto, this is a blockbuster of a Barolo. Readers who desire the more traditional approach to Nebbiolo will likely not be enchanted by this wine, but if you appreciate all styles, this one is hard to resist. Deep garnet to purple in the glass, the aromas are intense with red fruits, flowers, mint and herbs. On the palate, this rich wine is full bodied, opulent and finely textured with cherry, mint, leather and herbs. The tannins are balanced so well with the massive core of fruit that this is approachable today. Paired perfectly with Bistecca Fiorentina. 92 points.
Paolo Scavino Barolo
This is Scavino's "classic" Barolo, blended from various Scavino vineyard holdings. There is nothing "entry level" about this wine. Dark ruby red in color, this Barolo exudes stature. Lovely floral, spice, cherry and rosemary aromas combine to form a delicately woven bouquet. On the palate, the wine is juicy and full bodied, with a solid core of cherry fruit framed with spices, leather and earth. True to its roots this is a delicious wine that will age effortlessly for a decade or more. Recent tastings of the 1998 and 2001 show the potential of this label. Also paired very well with Bistecca Fiorentina. 93 points.
|~ Parsusso Mariondino & Paolo Scavino Barolo ~|
Marchesi di Barolo "Sarmassa"
Nothing about this wine has changed since I last tasted it at the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event. For a wine this young, the complex aromatics are absolutely amazing. The color is a deep red cherry. Roses, fennel, licorice, and berries explode from the glass. This has power and elegance all at once. There's a massive core of berry fruit that is accented by spices and floral flavors. It's breathtaking. Aged for 2 years in Slavonian cask and then partly in used French barrique before a final year in bottle. Delicious with sausage & fennel stuffed mushrooms. 97 points.
|~ Marchesi di Barolo "Sarmassa" ~|
|Pairing with Sarmassa: Mushrooms stuffed with Sausage, fennel, celery, garlic, bread crumbs cheese and egg.|
Brezza Barolo "Bricco Sarmassa"
Bricco is Piedmontese for ridge and typically denotes the best plots within a vineyard. The Sarmassa vineyard lies opposite the famed Cannubi, just over the crest of the hill that separates the two. The Brezza Sarmassa is mouth watering. While not as boisterous as its sibling from Marchesi di Barolo, this burgundy colored red, with amber highlights throughout stikes a harmony of ripe cherry fruit, fennel, cured meat and flowers on the nose. Meatier, with more pronounced tannin, the core of cherry fruit is accented by a juicy herbal freshness that gives the sensation of a mouth watering complexity. More traditional, the structure on this wine indicates that aging will be rewarded, if not required. 93 points.
Paolo Scavino Barolo "Bricco Ambrogio"
Along with it's "sister" Barolo, Monvigliero, this is one of Scavino's more feminine Barolo. Indeed, the grace and class in this bottle is very evident. The taster is greeted by a pretty, ruby colored wine - a deep color clear to the rim. Pretty, delicate aromas abound: freshly picked flowers, dried herbs, lavendar and red fruits are simply gorgeous. On the palate the wine is so refined. Silky, with wonderful precision. Intense cherry flavors are framed by spice, sage, lavendar and licorice. This is irresistible. 94 points.
Marcarini Barolo "La Serra"
This one the purists will love. Marcarini is a traditional producer of classic wines that reflect their Piedmont terroir with honesty and grace. This is no exception. The La Serra bottling is known for it's elegant, feminine approach to Nebbiolo and I love it. In the glass, this is a deep ruby color, but you can already see the orangeing at the rim. The aroma is lovely, with dried flowers, cured meats, mushroooms and red fruits. Flavors follow the nose with the tertiary aspects of the wine almost as prominent as the spicy cherry fruit. Feminine and elegant with only moderate tannins. This Barolo is drinking well now but should cellar easily for 10-12 years. 92 points
|Brezza Bricco Sarmassa, Scavino Bricco Ambrogio, & Marcarini La Serra. All three wines were delicious with truffle accented Lobster Risotto & Grilled Karobuta Pork Chops|
Parusso Barolo "Le Coste - Mosconi"
Muscle and Power. That's Monforte and that's Mosconi. This bottling from Parusso is deep garnet red in color with purple reflections. Immediately you are struck by the intense perfume from the spices, menthol, cherry and tar aromas. This is massive Barolo. The power from Monforte is upfront and personal. Huge core of cherry fruit, with leather, meat, flowers and menthol. Delicious - but the tannins clamp down significantly on the finish. Although a lush, rich wine, I do believe this will be better with 5-8 years cellaring. 94 points.
|Parusso Mosconi - The smoked meats, bread & cheese tamed this wine's tannins a little. Cellar it!|
Conterno-Fantino Barolo "Mosconi"
I first tasted this at the Slow Wine VinItaly event. I'm happy to see, since I did put this in my own cellar, that the wine showed exactly as it had there. Like the Parusso before it, this is everything Monforte Barolo is about. Muscular, and powerful, the aromatics are slightly reserved but vigorous swirling and decanting brings out flowers, berries, and faint earthy notes. The core of the wine is rich and full bodied with fruit and fennel. This is bigger than the Parusso and needs cellar time. I won't touch remaining bottles for 5-8 years more, but this is gorgeous. 96 points.
Conterno Fantino Barolo "Vigna del Gris"
This is Conterno Fantino's most approachable Barolo. The Southeast facing Gris vineyard is young. On average, the vines are only about 12 years old which permits the early accessability. The wine is classic ruby red, with a wonderful aroma of flowers, cherries and spices. It's very elegant, very feminine. It's charming to drink already with moderate tannins and pleasing acidity. Very good, but not great. Along the lines of a heavy Nebbiolo d'Alba. 90 points.
|~ Conterno Fantino Barolo Mosconi - Monforte d'Alba ~|
|~ Conterno Fantino: Mosconi at Left, Vigna del Gris at Right ~|
Parusso Barolo "Bussia"
Given the other Parusso bottlings, I was expecting this to be a brawny, rich, lush monster of a wine, but it surprised me. The color is a deep violet with pretty, bright reflections. The aromas are subtle at first in this young Nebbiolo, but slowly open to reveal flowers, dried herbs and crushed red berries. In the mouth, the wine was slightly restrained, leaner at first. But as it sat in the decanter, it added significant weight and roundness to the bold cherry flavors. There's sweet tobacco, menthol and mint on the finish of this full bodied and muscular red. If you try this now, decant it for an hour. Otherwise, this goes into the cellar for 3-5 years. 93 points.
|Parusso Barolo Bussia: Tasted with Pasta con Pancetta, Broccoli Rabe with White Beans, Cheese & Bread|
Paolo Scavino Barolo "Monvigliero"
The sister wine to the "Bricco Ambrogio", Monvigliero is the Queen to Ambrogio's King. The vineyard sits slightly farther north than many within the Barolo zone and the nature of the soil lends an intense mineral characteristic to this Nebbiolo that is very attractive. In the glass, it's a dark ruby with violet reflections. The aromas are elegant, graceful and very perfumed. Flowers, berries and tobacco combine harmoniously. It's on the palate where the wine sets itself apart. There's an intense laser of cherry fruit that rides on a road of chalk and minerals. So dusty, so fine. It's spreads gracefully on the palate and leads to a fennel and rosemary finish. It's what a friend called "eminently drinkable". 94 points.
|~ The elegant and graceful Barolo Monvigliero from Paolo Scavino ~|
Paolo Scavino Barolo "Cannubi"
This wine was a major shift in style from the Scavino wines mentioned above. The balance and elegance of the Scavino style is evident, but this wine flexes muscles the others don't have. It's a dark purple-red in the glass and the nose is quite complex after being decanted for over an hour. Cherries, flowers, spice and a slight mushroom element are woven together wonderfully. On the palate, the heft of this vineyard is prominently displayed with the crushed red berries, cigar tobacco, dried herbs and fennel taking center stage. Ripe but substantial tannins require some patience to resolve. With the grilled leg of lamb we had, this wine's tannins were tamed. But it needs that sort of help right now, or 5-10 years in the cellar. Delicious. 95 points.
|~ Paolo Scavino Barolo from the Legendary Cannubi Vineyard ~|
Marcarini Barolo "Brunate"
Stylistically, the total opposite of it's sibling from La Serra. Brunate is known for producing massive, masculine wines and this one is no exception. Dark brick red in the glass, again, evidence of the traditional methods employed in making these wines. The slightly orange hue to the rim belies the wine's age. This Barolo boasts aromas of meat, leather, tar and cherries. Flavors follow the aromas with a deep, ripe core of fruit that is surrounded by aggressive tannins. All is in balance, so this will require some age to resolve those tannins and deepen the complexity of this wine. It's delicious, but will require some patience. 93 points.
|~ Barolo from the Masculine Brunate Vineyard ~|
Vietti Barolo "Lazzarito"
By Vietti's own admission, this is their most approachable, modern rendition of Barolo. That may be the case, but this is old school Nebbiolo with lots of power behind it. Aged for 8 months in barrique followed by 2 years in large cask, the wine is softened somewhat upon release, but you can sense it screaming: "don't let that diminish the weight of my message". That message is restrained power. On the nose, you sense it brooding in the black plum aromas mixed with meat and flowers. This dark garnet red Barolo is very inviting to look at. On the palate the wine is refined and elegant with moderate amounts of tannin. The chery and plummy fruit are framed with smoke, herbs and tobacco. Still, this wine has lots to give and despite the approachable texture of the tannins, will be much more interesting after 10 years in the cellar. 93 points.
|~ Close Up of the Random & Pretty Vietti Labels ~|
Damilano Barolo "LeCinqueVigne"
A blended wine from Damilano's holdings throughout the zone. This is a bright, vibrant ruby red and the estate's "entry level" Barolo. The nose has faint asian spices to it that really stand out as unique. There's pretty cherry and anise aromas that carry themselves to the palate. Very elegant, and very approachable. Another Barolo for near term consumption. 90 points.
Damilano Barolo "Cannubi"
Like it's cousin from Scavino, this is a massive wine. Deep aromas of roses, turned earth, and crushed cherry follow through to a full bodied, chewy palate of powerful, muscular Barolo fruit. The back end has begun displaying some smoked meat and dried fennel notes before the tannins clamp down. A wonderful wine from Cannubi. 94 points.
|~ The Pair of Barolo from Damilano: Cannubi at Left. Le Cinque Vigne at Right ~|
Pio Cesare Barolo
In the seemingly increasing age of vineyard designated Barolo, with the exception of the Ornato vineyard that they own, Pio Cesare marches on with it's bottling from throughout the zone. It's almost gotten to the point where consumers look down on wines that are "just Barolo". In the scheme of things, this of course is ridiculous, but as a result, often times these are great wines that are typically affordable.
The Pio Cesare is a pretty violet in the glass. The aroma of the wine is classic Pio Cesare. Roses, pine, cherry and fennel combine to form a cover for the earthy notes running underneath. Some of the tasters did not appreciate the more secondary notes in this wine, but I liked it. The palate is accessible and fruit driven, with meat, spices and earth on the finish. Only moderately tannic, this wine excelled with the grilled Karobuta Pork with fennel pollen. The smoke from the chops really played well with the earthy components to the wine. Delicious now, but will cellar well 8-10 years. 91 points.
|~ The Pio Cesare alongside some of the Tasting Participants ~|
Paolo Scavino Barolo "Carobric"
This Scavino is a blend of three vineyards that come together not only to form the wine; but to create the acronym that is it's name: Cannubi - Rocche - Bric del Fiasc. At the Banville & Jones Portfolio tasting, I was speaking to the winery principle Riccardo Sgarra and I asked him why Scavino chooses to bottle this wine as opposed to fortifying the Cannubi and Bric del Fiasc labels; (Rocche is used in the Riserva) He told me that this wine was new in 1996 and was created after some sections of the vineyards were re-planted. Therefore, the fruit here is from younger vines, but still thought to be more "distinctive" than the nebbiolo used for the estate wine.
No matter. Carobric is accessible, that's for certain. The tannic structure to the wine is moderated well and the fruit comes to the fore on the nose and palate. Cherry, spices, powdery mineral and flowers are evident. There's a juicy core of acidity running through this wine that provides substantial freshness. It paired very well with assorted antipasti of olives, prosciutto, speck and cheese. 91 points.
|Barolo Snacks: Sopressata, Speck, Reggiano, Olives|
Paolo Scavino Barolo "Bric del Fiasc"
Riccardo told me that this was Scavino's most muscular, masculine Barolo. I asked him where it fit in with Cannubi and he said: "Bric del Fiasc is the King, Cannubi is the Queen." The Bric del Fiasc is indeed powerful. A brawny behemeth of a Nebbiolo that requires decanting or cellar time or both. We opened this 2 hours in a decanter and it just began to show some aromas. There's a huge core of red berry fruit with traces of minerals and flowers on the nose and palate. The stature of the wine is significant and you get the sense that there's plenty of development lurking underneath. There's a distinct fennel laced spice on the finish that is very attractive. Even with the Fiorentina, this was a brawny wine. With Gorgonzola, it fleshed out more. That may be the best way to approach it now. Cellar it for 10 years. 93-97 points.
|~ Scavino Twins: The Approachable Carobric & the Brawny Bric del Fiasc ~|
|Sauteed Broccolini & Gorgeous Karobuta Pork Chops for the Grill. Karobuta, are the Black Berkshire Pigs|
Aldo Conterno Barolo
Conterno's "Classico" bottling is sourced exclusively from the Bussia vineyard. Past vintages have been labeled as such, and although the 2008 does not bear that distinction, future vintages will see the notation return. The nose offers abundant aromas of flowers, black cherry and spice. In the mouth, the wine is very precise, elegant and flavorful with ripe black fruits, a touch of licorice and a floral essence. It's full bodied with ample structure, yet this is already approachable. It's elegant and masculine at the same time and is so well balanced that it can seemingly age effortlessly for a decade. 92 points.
Aldo Conterno Barolo "Colonello"
Also sourced from Bussia, the Colonello plot comprises soil made mostly of sand, which allows this Barolo to be the most approachable and feminine in Conterno's lineup. The wine is a dark cherry color, but you can see a slight hint of orange toward the rim. It's open and florally aromatic with loads of berry and cherry fruit. There's spice, fennel and flowers on the palate that surround a very finely grained core of fruit. It's very elegant and easily drinkable right now. Can be cellared, but I'd be more inclined to drink this over the next 5 years. 93 points.
|~ Barolo Colonnello & Barolo Bussia from Poderi Aldo Conterno ~|
Conterno Fantino Barolo "Sori Ginestra"
This bottling from C-F is noticeably different in flavor and style compared to the previously discussed wines. This single vineyard Barolo, from the "slopes" of the Ginestra vineyard, is a dark blackish red. There's a slight fade to cherry at the rim. The nose is very spicy, with pepper, baking spices and cherry dominating. In the mouth, there's a large core of cherry fruit, that is slightly tart. There's lots of spice here; cinnamon, clove, vanilla bean and a large surround of substantial tannins. This wine spends 24 months in barrique followed by a year in bottle and it shows. The spiciness from the oak is slightly out of balance at this point. Despite the fruit backing it up, I'm not sure if this will be tamed with cellaring. Well made, but not my style of Barolo. 90 points.
|Sori Ginestra from Conterno Fantino|
Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo "Monprivato"
I'm familiar with this wine and I know it's track record for being a closed bruiser in it's youth. Still, I had them and I wanted to include it in this report so in that sense - I took one for the team! Having said that, I was determined to allow this wine to show as best as it possibly could. I remember once that Bruno Giacosa told me that when he has visitors to his cantina, he often tasted them on Barolo that had been opened for several days. In that vein, I decanted this wine and left it to sit in the basement for 36 hours, then returned it to the bottle just before tasting. Extreme decantation!
It's a blackish red - solidly through. The aromas showed no signs of ill treatment for the extended air time and they are generous. The complexity is here. There's abundant aromas of flowers and lavendar. There's cherry, slight dirt/tar and a hint of orange rind. On the palate there's a huge massive core of berry fruit, with massive but fully ripened tannins and acids providing a mammothly structured wine that is both powerful and elegant at the same time. I hate to use the phrase "iron fist in a velvet glove" but that's the sense here. Lots of ripe tobacco, soft mushroom, anise/dried fennel and a floral perfume complete the essence of the mouthfeel. We tasted this with a wild mushroom risotto, with truffle oil and reggiano cheese and the pairing was absolutely decadent. Some smoked duck breast also completed the marriage. I can see this easily being one of the top 5 wines of the vintage and effortlessly developing in the cellar for up to 40 years. Buy what you can afford for this is bottled art. 97 points with the potential to improve.
|~ G. Mascarello Monprivato ~|
Once again, my sincere appreciation to all those that contributed to, participated in, and made this report possible. Thanks to all the importers and distributors that contributed. I hope consumers and those in the business enjoyed this report.