About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Friday, November 17, 2017

2004 Barolo

Last week our local wine group convened at Divina Ristorante in Caldwell, NJ for our monthly dinner.  It was my turn to bring the wine, so chef/owner Mario Carlino and I discussed a menu that would complement the theme I choose, 2004 Barolo.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the food, but suffice it to say we cleaned each and every plate he served us:

Bruschetta and Homemade Mozzarella
Calamari Fritti
Tre Mare
Risotto with Sausage and Asparagus
Veal Valdostana
Zuppa Inglese

I began the tasting with a bottle of 1992 Fiorano Bianco Botte 26.  Fiorano was the wine estate of the late Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, the prince of Venosa.  The estate is located in the region of Latium of Lazio. The rare and highly regarded wines come from the international varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the Rosso and Malvasia di Candia and Semillon for the Bianco. The wines are the product of a dedicated and passionate prince whose avant garde approach was way ahead of its time. His whites took on a phenomenon for their ability to age, but became a true rarity as the prince was elusive and did not care to put the wines in the wrong hands.

The aging prince continued to make his wines until 1995, although he had stopped selling the bottles. After the '95 harvest he pulled out all the vines in his vineyard, except for a small plot of cabernet and merlot. He offered no explanation, and at the time none was asked.

The prince had one daughter, Francesca, who married Piero Antinori, the eminent Tuscan winemaker, at the Fiorano estate in 1966. Mr. Antinori suggests today that the prince was unable to bear the thought of anybody else making his wines when he could no longer do it.  His daughter has resurrected the estate in the past few years.  I have had both the Malvasia and the Semillon and always found the Malvasia to be the better wine.

1992 Fiorano Bianco Botte 26.  100% Malvasia di Candia.  The wine was superb tonight with a beautiful golden hue and a nutty bouquet and palate.  As the wine warmed in the glass it improved considerably.  One of the better bottles of Fiorano I have had.

The 2004 Barolo vintage is lauded by wine critics and collectors alike.  It is an exceptional vintage. Famed wine critic Antonio Galloni says"…These are wines of extraordinary elegance, balance and finesse."   He further commented “the 2004 Barolos combines the sweetness of 2000 with the classicism, perfume and freshness of 2001.”

I have been drinking quite a bit of the vintage over the past 6 months and I am in complete agreement with Mr. Galloni.

I gave each of the Barolo a 3 hour slo-o at home before bringing to the restaurant.

2004 Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva.  Lead off wine in our group's 2004 Barolo tasting and it set the stage beautifully.  The wine is aged in Rovere botte (Italian oak) for 36-42 months followed by 18-24 months in bottle before being released.  It is the estate's flagship wine.  While the tannins were a bit tight, the balance and finesse of the vintage were evident.  Destined to a long and enjoyable life.

The Cappellano estate in Seralunga is among the best of the best for traditionally mad Barolo. The estate was under the direction of Teobaldo (Baldo) Cappellano until his passing in early 2009. Today it is under the capeable direction of his son Augusto and continues to make one of Italy's most sought after Barolo's.  While Baldo allowed wine critics to visit, taste and write about his wines, he was adament they the do not score the wines.  Cappellano makes fewer than 800 cases of Barolo per year, all vinified traditionally: a fermentation of 14 to 21 days with indigenous yeasts and aging in well-seasoned botti for at least three years.

2004 Teobaldo Cappellano Barolo Pie Rupestris.  Superb Barolo.  Great wine that is a small step behind the Pie Franco from the same vintage.

2004 Teobaldo Cappellano Barolo Pie Franco.  What a wine.  A wine with lots of soul.  One of the best wines from an exceptional vintage.  Glorious all around, bouquet, depth, balance, elegance, etc., etc., etc.   “Piè Franco,” is from a parcel planted on its own roots with Nebbiolo’s “Michet” clone in 1989. The ethereal delicacy of this great wine makes Cappellano wonder if it tells us what Barolo tasted like before Phylloxera.

2004 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo.  Another of Italy's most sought after traditionally made Barolo. The estate does not make any single vineyard wines, preferring to blend the fruit from its ancient hilltop vines in Cannubi, San Lorenzo, Rue and Rocche.  The resulting wines, like tonight's are simply gorgeous, round and delicious with a complex and elegant palate and lengthy finish.  The 2004 is one of the wines of the vintage.  Bartolo passed away in 2005, but the estate continues under the direction of his daughter, Maria Teresa.  Many feel, myself included, that she is taking the wines to new heights.

2004 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto.  Perhaps my biggest lament as a wine collector is that I did not learn of  Giacosa wines early enough.  His wines, traditional to the core, are magnificent. Tonight's bottle may have been the wine of the evening, with a gorgeous earthy nose and palate and lengthy and elegant finish.

It was another great evening with a great bunch of wine loving friends.