My Blog: Thoughts on Recent Vintages for Barolo, Barbaresco
July 6th, 2012
I haven’t had any time this week to blog due to a hectic tasting schedule in Piedmont. I have had tastings at the growers association of Barolo and Barbaresco as well as various wine cellars throughout the two main Nebbiolo areas. The vintages tasted have been primarily 2008 and 2009.
I have found both inconsistent but some superb wines have been made. I think that 2007 was a much more homogenous vintage due to the earlier harvest and smaller crops, as well as more sunlight and heat during the growing season.
I had lunch with the great winemaker Bruno Giacosa and he said, “2007 is a much better vintage than any of the last three in bottle for Nebbiolo. And it’s just wrong to say otherwise.”
This said, I believe that there are some better wines made in 2008 compared to 2007 if you can find them. They have more finesse, complexity and balance than the sun-rich 2007s. And the tannins are ripe and refined. I like to compare the two years to 1997 and 1998 – just 10 years younger.
For the record, the 1997s are drinking wonderfully now with their rich tannins and dried fruit character. Last night at a restaurant in Langhe, I drank a 1997 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra that was so fresh and juicy still with intense fruit and density and ripe tannins. It has a long life ahead of it. It still bugs me thinking how some people didn’t believe in the longevity of the sunny 1997 vintage.
I also drank a 1998 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato a few nights ago while watching the Euro Cup with Italy losing to Spain, and the wine was clearly outstanding with a wonderful nose of licorice, spices and dried fruits that follow through to silky tannins and a crisp finish. So fine and beautiful. The 1998 Barolos have always had such balance, and they still do.
The 2009 vintage is the weakest of the three vintages I tasted. But the wines that are made from reduced grape yields and are not over-extracted are very fine indeed. I found a number of outstanding Barbarescos from the vintage. I like the purity of fruit in the wines.
I should post the notes next week on the site. My tasting this week was not completely comprehensive with the top labels so I have a number of others to still taste, such as Conternos and Rinaldi. But it’s been a fascinating tasting and five days in the Langhe.Comments