BAROLO (F. Rinaldi, Sandrone)
at a private home, NYC (1/28/2006)

Photos are here.


Participants: Antonio, Greg, Jamie, Joe, Ken, Paul, Victor.

Some serious Barolo nuts got together for dinner. The food was excellent and perfectly matched to the wine. Seven people is an ideal number for such a group.

The white and the 98 Monfortino were pop and pour. All others were decanted between 6:30 and 7:30, unless otherwise noted. Dinner ran from about 8pm to about midnight. I was able to stop by and taste a few leftovers with some leftover pasta and veal the next day. Those notes are included as well.


WHITE STARTER
With Tuna Tartare

1999 Gravner Ribolla Gialla
[From Antonio.] Light amber color. Lovely nose of tangerine, walnuts and apricots. Gorgeous in the mouth. Complex and long. Goes quite well with tasty Tuna Tarare. A flavorful white with enough intensity to appeal to people like me who mostly prefer reds. 93 points.


FRANCESCO RINALDI BAROLOS
With Pasta with Veal Sauce

1958
[Brought by Joe. Double decanted at 5:30.] Mature onion-skin color. Mature nose of leather, dried cherries, soy (Greg). Very mature, but not gone. Lovely dried fruit. 88 points.
Shows better with delicious veal sauce. 92 points. In any case, drink up!

1964
[Brought by Joe. Double decanted at 5:30.] Very dark garnet color. As dark as the 85 and darker than the 82 or 93! Tight, earthy nose opens slowly to reveal lush dark cherries. Beautiful and silky in the mouth, but still dark and brooding in its own way. A really anomalous wine. Hard to explain its youthful appearance, but enjoyed nonetheless! 94 points.

1971
[Brought by Greg.] Medium dark with some browning at edge. Woodsy nose. Full in the mouth. Still has aggressive tannins. Glories in its traditionalness. Needs 5 years more, I think. 93 points.
Open 2 hours: A touch sour now. 92 points?

1982 Cannubio
[Brought by Jamie.] Medium dark with a touch of onion skin edge. Dried black cherry and truffle nose. Still tannic but more sweet fruit. A touch floral. The beauty of the Cannubi vineyard shows through here. Best in 5–10 years. 93–95 points.

1985 Cannubio
[Brought by Ken.] Tied with the 64 for darkest color of the flight. Lots of cherry fruit and kirsch (from the ripeness of the 85 vintage). Balanced and gorgeous. More ready than the 82 or 71! I love this! For me, the ripeness of the vintage balances out the excessively traditional approach to winemaking at this estate. My WOTF. Drink now–2015. 95 points.

1993 La Brunata
[Brought by Greg.] Medium dark color. Woodsy nose. Thin in the middle. A touch sour and short. 87 points.


TOTALLY BLIND WINE FLIGHT

Jamie's Bottle
Medium dark, youthful color. Interesting nose of licorice, caraway seed, and blackberry liqueur. Great earthiness in the nose! Tannic and persistent. Ready now–20012. A delicious wine. I think that it is an underrated "off" vintage of Barolo, so I guess 1986 Barolo from a traditional producer, maybe Conterno? 93 points.
It is the 1980 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo.

Greg's Bottle
Sour, slightly turpentiny nose. A little maderized, but very interesting! Beautiful. Fully mature. Something floral in the nose. Long sweet and sour cherry finish. I think it is very old Giacosa. Maybe the 67 Barolo Arione? 92 points.
It is the 1986 Bruno Giacosa Santo Stefano (white label).

These wines were brought completely independently by Jamie and Greg. The fact that they made a clear theme to the flight (wines from good producers in "off" vintages) really made a fascinating point. But independent of any intellectual considerations, both wines were very pleasurable to drink.


SANDRONE FLIGHT (9:30pm)
With Osso Bucco

1982 Barolo
[Brought by Victor.] Gorgeous mature complex nose of tar and dried cherries. Fully mature with beautiful fruit and licorice. Riveting finish lasts forever! A great wine, somewhat more traditional than subsequent vintages. 95 points.

1985 Cannubi Boschis
[Brought by Ken.] Nose of truffles, tar, and Heaven. Gorgeous fruit and tannin. An amazing wine drinking beautifully now and for at least 15 years more. But why wait? More modern than the 82, but still so clearly Barolo. Similar to better bottles of I have of his 89, but a bit more fruit and a touch less structure. WOTN so far for me. 97 points.
Day 2: Smoky, tarry, licorice nose. Not as exuberant as last night but lovely and more mellow now. I would drink this over the next 5 years. 95 points today.

1988 Cannubi Boschis
[Brought by Ken.] Beautiful nose: liquorous, perfumed and lovely. Tastes more traditional than either the 82 or 85. Must be the classic nature of the vintage. Still pretty tannin with less fruit than the 82 or 85. If we had mixed the Rinaldis and Sandrones single-blind, I might have guessed that this one was a Rinaldi. No chance of that with the 82 or 85! 92–? points.
Day 2: More classic Barolo nose of tar, licorice, and roses. Beautiful in the mouth. Soft tannins fully integrated. 93 points.

1989 Cannubi Boschis
[From Antonio. Old dried wine pushed out from cork.] Liquorous, truffle nose. Very tarry. Very long. But duller than some previous bottles. 93 points.
Day 2: Tarry, slightly maderized nose. Big and rich in the mouth with plenty of fruit and structure. A great wine needing 10 years. Showing better today. 95 points.

Antonio's Osso Bucco is great with these wines. The meat is delicious and the marrow is fantastic!


ONE–WINE FLIGHT

1971 Einaudi Barolo
[Brought by Victor.] Sour, tannic nose. Sour, a bad bottle or over the hill. NR


G. CONTERNO MONFORTINO FLIGHT

1978
[Brought by Paul.] Monster nose of cooked beef. Exquisite in the mouth. Great tannin and fruit. Unbelievable stuff! Great! Great! Great! 98 points.
Day 2: Nose is so great: Italian sweet sausage, spices, herbs, espresso, and red fruits. The fullness of the tannin, body and fruit is remarkable. Great length!

1998
[From Antonio.] Mindblowing, ethereal nose of cherry liqueur. Thick and silky with massive tannins. Will it be as good as the 78? Hard for me to tell at this point in the evening. Riveting finish. Hard to judge fully at this stage. 95–98 points.
Day 2: Nose is much more muted today but shows some nice black fruit, tar and licorice. Thick and ripe up front with lots of fruit, followed by an avalanche tannin riding into the a long, subtle finish of herbs, licorice and plums. Needs 15–25 years, but will be great! 96–98 points.


What an incredible evening. For those of us who consider great nebbiolo to be a religious experience, this was holy communion!


SUMMARY

The Francesco Rinaldi flight was wonderful. He may be the ultimate traditionalist. There is a way that his wines showed so old-fashioned in all these vintages that almost makes Giacosa, Conterno and the Mascarellos seem modern. (Note the "almost".)

In its own way, the 2-wine blind flight was the highlight for me. Totally blind, not even grape variety, each wine was fascinating. Neither was truly great, but each so interesting. We were asked to guess in each case. For the 80 Bartolo, I guessed that it was an underrated "off" vintage of Barolo, so I guessed 1986. I could not believe it was from 1980! I did guess that the 86 Giacosa SS was a Giacosa, but I thought it to be from a better, but older vintage, so I guessed 1967 Giacosa Barolo Arione (partly because I knew some has been in the market lately). These wines were brought completely independently by Jamie and Greg. The fact that they made a clear theme to the flight (wines from good producers in "off" vintages) really made a fascinating point. But independent of any intellectual considerations, both wines were very pleasurable to drink.

The Sandrone flight really drove a dividing line through the group. About half (including me) loved them and thought them superior to the Rinaldis, the other half thought them clearly inferior to the Rinaldis. The 82 Sandrone was not labeled "Cannubi Boschis", but the grapes did come from there. It had a very different label than the one most of us are familiar with.

The 2 Monfortinos were incredible, and also a bit more than I could tolerate. But somehow I struggled on.... This is my 3rd bottle of the 78 in my life and the last 8 months! (It's been a very good year ....) This again was a monumental wine, the very definition of power in Barolo with just enough grace and complexity to blow you away! Greg says the 58 is MUCH better. Needless to say, I demanded that he prove such an outrageous statement! The 98 is very young and was shutting down as we drank it. It will be great one day, but I could not judge if it will ever be as great as the 78. At this point, I was drunk enough to consider mixing the 78 and 98 to make 88, but just sober enough not to!

Many thanks to our host and all who brought these great wines. Oh what fun for Nebbiolo nuts!

 

 

 


All original content © Ken Vastola