On the last Tuesday evening of February our NY Vinous Nebbiolo lovers group met to do a 10-year retrospective of 2008 Baolo. Like all tastings with this group it was a spectacular night with some really good wines, and a couple that were less so. Danny Meyer’s North End Grill provided us with a private room for the evening. The food was excellent and the service was top notch. Crispy Pork Belly, Wood Grilled Duck Breast and Steak Frittes were the popular choices for most of the group. The Pork Belly & Duck were lauded, the Steak Frittes was not. I went a different route and was very happy with my selections.
|Spinach Ravioli, Parmesan Broth & Hedgehog Mushrooms|
2008 was an exceptional vintage in Barolo. Antonio Galloni of Vinous stated “…The late harvest yielded a set of beautifully perfumed, sensual wines that are all about finesse.” For more detailed information about the vintage check out Eric Guido’s blog The Cellar Table.
All wines were double decanted in the morning and left to slow-o throughout the day before being transported to the restaurant. Wines were served blind, with the exception of the second flight. I am not a proponent of blind tasting. I fail to see its value. Some claim that blind tasting removes the prejudice one may have about the wine if they know what it is. I don’t buy that at all. If I know the wine and the producer, then I have a reference point and an expectation level about the wine. I can evaluate where the vintage is relative to other vintages of the wine. For me wine is about enjoying what you are drinking not guessing what the wine is, who made it or the year. Just my opinion.
My top three were Bartolo Mascarello, Sandrone and Cascina Francia. I must admit, I was also smitten by the Gaja.
2008 Angelo Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Conteisa. Contesia is Piedmontese for "quarrel." This wine was named for the historic dispute between the communes of La Morra and Barolo for possession of the Cerequio land. Since Gaja adds Barbera (approximately 5 to 8%), Italian Barolo and Barbaresco laws do not allow him to call it Barolo (or Barbaresco) since it is not 100% Nebbiolo. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised when this wine was revealed, as Gaja’s more modern style is usually not to my liking. This drank very well however. The palate was soft and balanced and finished nicely. Because of the Gaja name the wine commands a high price (not worth it in my opinion). $215
2008 G.D. Vajra Bricco delle Viole Barolo. One of the top wines of the evening. This was firing on all cylinders, round and delicious palate, elegant finish and has the stuff to age for a few decades. In my opinion it is clearly one of the wines of the vintage. At $90 it is one of the most reasonably priced wines around.
2008 Accomasso Rochette Barolo. This bottle was flawed.
Flight 2 (Barolo).
Most, if not all of us, thought this was the flight of the evening. It was also the only flight that was not served blind.
2008 Giuseppe Rinaldi Cannubi San Lorenzo Ravera Barolo. What a beautiful wine that is entering its drinking window with silk and elegance. Terrific texture, balance and complexity with a lasting finish. This will drink well for a couple of decades at least. $175.
2008 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo. Although Sandrone makes his wines in a more modern style, the result is always fabulous as this bottle was tonight. The wine began with an intoxicating earthy bouquet and coated the palate in beautiful fresh fruit and finished with length and elegance. I am sorry that I have none my cellar, something I hope to rectify soon. $150.
2008 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo. The wine of the night, in my opinion, in fact it may well be the wine of the vintage. Round, delicious, elegant, balanced, etc, etc, etc. Built to last for decades, but who can wait. This wine was $100 upon release and has soared to $320 a bottle currently.
2008 Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate Le Coste Barolo. The tightest wine in the flight but the underlying pedigree is apparent. I would hold this for a couple more years before drinking. Also another example of the soaring prices of great Barolo. I paid $107/btl upon release. Today it will set you back $500/btl.
Flight 3 (Castiglione Falletto)
2008 Cavallotto Riserva Vignolo Barolo. Cavallotto is a rock-solid producer of traditionally made Barolo. Tonight’s wine drank very well, but was not as awake as the top wines. Cellar time will be kind to the wine. $120.
2008 Brovia Rocche Barolo. Unfortunately this was a flawed bottle. $95.
2008 Vietti Rocche Barolo. There seemed to be not a lot going on here. I expected more depth and balance, but the wine just seemed to be happy sitting in the glass. $190.
We had two bottles of the Cascina Francia, as I mistakenly pulled one from my cellar by mistake. It turned out to be a bit of a blessing as the other bottle turned out to be flawed.
2008 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia Barolo. Cascina Francia has always been one of my favorite Barolo’s and tonight’s wine was singing. It started with an enticing earthy bouquet on the nose, with a beautifully structured palate marked by soft tannins. It got better with each sip and finished with length and elegance. One of my wines of the night. $180
2008 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia Barolo. Flawed bottle.
2008 Elio Grasso Casa Matè Barolo. Classic old world Barolo. Earthy bouquet, medium bodied with a soft elegant finish. This is aging nice nicely. A lot more depth than the bottle I had 3 years ago. $85.
|Photo Courtesy of Eric Guido|
Additional notes on the tasting can be found by following the link to Eric Guido’s blog The Cellar Table mentioned in the second paragraph above.
Bottom line, I am lucky to be a member of this illustrious Barolo group. Another great night.
|Michael, Jonathan, Anthony, Marc, Iggy, Mark, Ken, Michael, Ben, Jamie|
Photo Courtesy of Eric Guido