Barolo & Barbaresco
at Della Notte, Baltimore (1/20/2007)

Photos are here.

Pre-Dinner Warm Up At Corks
In Baltimore with Tom, Bob, Steve, and eventually Bill.

Food: Delicious fresh shrimp, tasty braised lamb cheeks, prosciutto, salami, and assorted cheeses. Only the cheeks and cheese went with the wine, but all the food was very good.

1961 G. Conterno Barolo
Beautiful nose of iron, white truffles, and dried cherries. Smooth as silk in the mouth. Complex long finish with balanced acidity and refreshing tart cherries. Archetypical mature Barolo. A perfect wine in the sense of being at its peak, harmonious, and so much of its type. 94 points.

1958 Einaudi Barolo
Lovely, slightly sour cherry nose. Oxidized. Drinkable but faded. I was glad for the chance to try this, but for me it was well past its prime. NR

1964 G. Conterno Barolo
Nose of cinnamon toast, curry, dried cherries, and black truffles. A bit more tired in the mouth with a hint of tart greenness that seems out of place. Still, a lovely mature Barolo. 91 points.

1982 Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra
Backward nose of tar, roses, and black cherries. Silky tannins, ripe black cherries. Still very youthful, especially after the others. A beauty which will probably be best around 2012–2020. 92–94 points.

2005 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese
Minerals and lemon custard in the nose. The purity in the mouth is astounding! Great length. Crisp and balanced. A stunning wine. I love Barolo, but this sure does float my boat too! 93–95 points.

The Main Event at Della Notte

Participants: Tom Maskell (host and coordinator), Ken Vastola, Steve Heymann, Bill Boykin, Bob Hughes, Antonio Galloni, Barry Pershkow, Joe Gagliano, Jamie Wolff, and Henry Kahn.

All the red wines (except additional bottles) were opened about 1pm. Based on tasting by Tom and Bob, they requested that the restaurant decant the 78 Monfortino, 78 Rionda, 89 Rionda and 89 SSR at 5:00 PM. The remainder were decanted just before we arrived.

Most of the wines were the same as a previous dinner at the same place with the same group exactly 11 months before (2/20/06).

A White
With tasty sautéed veggies

1985 Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
Earthy, dirty nose of crème caramel. Acidic and flavorful. Tasty stuff. 90 points.

Flight of Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva (7 pm)
With Pappardelle in Beef and Veal Ragu. The FOTN in taste and match to the wines.

The wines in this flight were served a bit too warm.

1982 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva
[#12,067/13,800] Very dark. Spellbinding nose of red berries, spice, and flowers. Tannins still there. Cherries. Endless finish. Not as flamboyant as last time. The warmth may limit its power. 96 points.

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva
[#11,699/13,600] More forward nose of sweet cherries. Ripe sweet and sour cherries. Very tasty but not as complex as the 82. 93 points.

1989 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva
[#5152/8770. Tom's bottle.] Different nose of tar, minerals, and licorice. Full, rich, tannic. Big tannins. More Barolo-like. This really gets me going! WOTF for me. Will be best 2015–2030. 98–100 points. Thank you, Tom!

1990 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva
[#1402/12,156.] Flamboyant nose. The sweetness is stunning. The length is phenomenal. The most delicious of this flight to drink tonight. Very, very tasty! 97 points.

Flight of Giacosa Barolos (8 pm)
With tough, tasteless rabbit over decent risotto with mushrooms.

1978 Bruno Giacosa Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto (white label)
[#6320/6440] Gorgeous licorice nose. Complex and expansive in the mouth. At its peak now. A terrific wine. Better and richer than the bottle from last year [2/20/06]. 98 points.

1978 Bruno Giacosa Villero di Castiglione Falletto Riserva Speciale
[#2257/3060] Sour cherry nose. Muted and woody on the palate. Seems very flat, but there is no bad taste at first. A little later, the distinctive chlorine and moldy cardboard taste of TCA becomes more evident. Antonio is the first to spot it. Not a terrible bottle, but no resemblance to last year's bottle. NR

1978 Bruno Giacosa Collina Rionda di Serralunga d'Alba Riserva Speciale
[#4670/6450] Ethereal nose of beef, iron, and blood. Massive in the mouth. Still young. Tarry and delicious, but not as good as the second bottle. I think most of these wines got too much air. 96 points.

There was possibly a mix up in the decanters between the 78 Villero and the 78 Rionda. IMO it was the Villero that was corked, but I was not unhappy that this led to a second bottle of 78 Rionda instead. I only began to think it was the Villero that was corked when I tasted the second bottle of 78 Rionda and recognized the similarity with the earlier (not corked) bottle.

My TN above are based on my assumption that it was the Villero which was served 3rd and corked and the Rionda which was served 2nd in the flight. The order used above is the order in which I drank them.

1989 Bruno Giacosa Collina Rionda di Serralunga d'Alba Riserva
[#0978/2838] Blood, iron, beef, and super-concentrated cherries in a thrilling nose. Rich chocolate and red fruit in the attack followed by a wave of tannin. A huge wine. Just amazing stuff. Best 2015-2035. The power and grace that Giacosa achieved from this vineyard in this year is astounding! It is so sad that he doesn't make wine from this vineyard anymore. Some of the greatest wines of my life have been Giacosa Riondas. This is no exception. 100 points.

1978 Bruno Giacosa Collina Rionda di Serralunga d'Alba Riserva Speciale
[2nd bottle, #4869/6450.] Beef, spice, tar, licorice, cherries. Wow!! Great, great stuff. Rich and powerful. I can't believe this is the 5th bottle I've had of this in the last 2 years or so. I am so lucky!!! 98 points.

1989 Bruno Giacosa Collina Rionda di Serralunga d'Alba Riserva
[2nd bottle, #??/2838] Just like the first bottle, but a touch fresher. Amazing that only 2838 bottles of this stuff were made. That's less than 240 cases! And thanks to Antonio, we drank 2 of them tonight. 101 points. My WOTN.

Flight of G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva (9 pm)
With disgusting Osso Bucco. Dry and covered in some mayonnaise-like goop. Delicious fresh asparagus was all that was edible here.

1961 G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva
[Brought by Barry.] Quite mature in color with a full onion skin edge. Subtle nose of cinnamon, wild cherry, and some elusive, ethereal quality . . . I know, it's the soil in heaven. There's also coffee and an endless array of fascinating scents. In the mouth, there's an appealing sour cherry and other mature earthy flavors. Stunning length. A very special bottle. Thank you, Barry! 98 points. My 3rd WOTN.

1978 G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva Speciale
Nose of beef, licorice, and mint. Thick, rich, tannic, very big and tannic. Sour cherry. Still a brute, but beautiful. I am just reeling from the finish. A monumental Barolo. Will there be any left (of this wine or us) when it is fully mature? Great stuff. 98–100 points. My 2nd WOTN.

1982 G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva
Stunning nose of licorice and spice. Big, rich, tannic, but more ready than the 78. A very harmonious wine. 98 points.

1985 G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva
Another stunning nose of beef and mind. A flood of sweet tannin and black cherries. Incredible! Not as wild as the 82, but still terrific and more or less ready to drink. 97 points.

1990 G. Conterno Monfortino Riserva
Minty, earthy, sweet red fruit nose. Sweet purity of fruit. More narrow than the others at this point, but as potentially great. Still, I will have to see it open up more. Blind, I really could not rate it as highly as any of the above, but Monfortino in this vintage? I'll bet on it. 95–? points.

Group Votes on the Red Wines
Each person listed their top 3 in order (3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd)

1(tie)151989 Rionda
1(tie)151978 Monfortino
3(tie)81961 Monfortino
3(tie)81978 Rionda
5(tie)41982 SSR
5(tie)41985 Monfortino
731990 SSR
831978 Rocche
911989 SSR

The rest must have sucked. ;

Photos here.


If you have a subscription to Vinous, you can read Antonio Galloni's notes on this dinner.




All original content © Ken Vastola