Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Autumn in Piedmont in NYC

A wonderful evening last night with great people and 3 decades of Nebbiolo. I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Monday night. I'm a big fan of the variety, especially when it starts kicking into gear at around age 25.

2000 Louis Jadot Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune
Not bad. It had some nice pure Chardonnay aromatics with smoked cashew notes that became more pronounced over the evening and made it seem older than it was. Perhaps a hint oxidized, but more likely just the character of the wine. It was quite round and creamy with decent acidity that kept everything in balance, but did not create any vivacity. I would have liked to see more minerality as well, although all in it is a nice wine that didn't aspire to greatness.
2003 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superiore La Court - Italy, Piedmont, Asti
It's not often you see a Barbera d'Asti striving for elegence, but this one does and almost succeeds. It lacks the rusticity and fleshiness of BdA, but it doesn't quite shed it's ruggedness. The trick here seems to be to use the tannin for structure around black, slightly sour fruit. It had a nice acidity that tied it together. Certainly a good wine for every day Italian food.

What's better than old Barbaresco...
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco
- Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
A big and weighty wine that speaks its the vintage in Piedmont. It started out quite funky with a touch of band-aid that blew off pretty quicky. It left a rather feral nose of smoke and bloody meat. Certainly interesting, albeit not exceptionally elegant. It showed great presence though on the palate with significant weight and ample fruit floating over a lively acidity. I appreciated the typicity both to the grape and the vintage and I really enjoyed it, although it is not without its flaws. It certainly has years left.
1983 Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
A pretty wine with a lot of charm, it seemed pretty textbook Barbaresco. Someone mentioned that Gaja would probably have objected to that statement, but there you are. The delicate nose gave sour cherry and rose petals and picked up hints of licorice. The palate could have used a bit more weight and the acidity overwhelmed the finish a touch. Still, a very nice presentation given the vintage. I'd bet a lot of winemaking went into making this this good.

...old Barolo
1971 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe (red cap-original release)
This wine had the disadvantage of having travelled on a train and being shown next to the stellar 1974. It came around in the glass to some degree, but it never shook off the slightly balsamic nose. I think it may have been an off-bottle.
1974 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe (black cap-library release)
Just a wonderful wine. It was exceptionally lively in the glass and crystal clear, belying its age. The nuanced fruit showed amazing freshness, meeting you on the way to the glass. Great Barolo characteristics with some other subtle, interesting ones such as white chocolate. An undercurrent of acidity pulled the soft, silky fruit along to the finish. Absolutely effortless. Consensus WOTN.

Not so old Barolo is nice too
1995 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato
- Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
I think we took this one down a bit too young. It was very tight for most of the evening, although it had started ceding ground by the end of the night. I found it well-made and varietally correct, but not mindblowing at this stage. Clearly all the elements are in place though and perhaps the nuance will start to develop with some additional age. This needs at least another five years.
1993 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Ca d'Morissio Riserva Monprivato - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
This was a somewhat controversial wine. While surprisingly ready to go, I did not enjoy it at all. Others put it in their top 3, so there you go. I found some eucalytus notes which I thought both odd and off-putting and the sweet red fruit came across a bit candied. Peter suggested that it was more of a red licorice than the black that you'd expect and I thought that pretty apt. The back end of the wine was nice, but this was not a wine for me.
1997 Prunotto Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
I liked this quite a bit, although it is more of a correct wine than a blow the doors off wine. It had the great ripeness of the vintage, but it was styled very traditionally, which I appreciated. The nose showed ample black cherries, licorice and tar. The midpalate was a bit fat and fleshy and it needs some time to thin out on its own because the acidity is not high enough to pull off the balancing act.

Baby Barbarescos
1997 Gaja Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
A very, very young prodigious wine. Tight, tannic and showing plenty of oak, it is more about structure than anything else at this point. The fruit that did show was ripe and concentrated with some smoky licorice. Tons of potential here with a tremendous amount of stuffing.
1998 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe
A beautifully made wine with a very refined air. The nose is most of the story at this point with red berries and rose petals. Pretty chewy in the mouth with chalky tannins that don't allow the fruit to follow through from the nose. Not profound at this point, it needs a good 10 years in the cellar and could develop a little more nuance. Time will tell.

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