Barolo 1999 VS. 2001 Blind
at New York Vintners, NYC (9/12/2014)

This dinner was organized though the discussion forum on Antonio Galloni's Vinous by Tony Kim who made all the arrangements for the venue and the excellent food (prepared by Chef Ryan Smith). Everyone sent me a list of Barolo in their cellar so that I could create a theme. Looking at what people had, I saw an opportunity to compare two highly regarded Barolo vintages: 1999 and 2001. There had been some negative reports on 2001 and some positive on 1999, so I saw this as a chance to see for ourselves with many of the best producers.

The venue was the cellar room two floors down from the main shop of New York Vintners. Our wines and food service were managed by Sommelier Charles Springfield who did a terrific job. We all had a great time eating, drinking, and conversating.

A word about "blind" in the title. Everyone knew that the wines were all Barolo from the 1999 and 2001 vintages. They also knew that each flight corresponded to one producer and one wine from that producer in these two vintages. The one exception was that the 2001 Ca was included in the Monprivato flight along with the 99 and 01 Monprivato, but no 1999 Ca was made, so we had 3 in that flight. So for each wine someone brought, he knew that one flight contained his wine and its peer from the other vintage, but he did not know which flight that was until the unveiling. We did 2 unveilings: one after Flight 4, then another at the end. In theory, anyone who brought Giacosa knew there had to be one flight of Giacosa in the last two flights, but I'm not sure anyone but me knew they were both Giacosa.

In my case, I knew all the wines and all the flights, but once I organized which wines went into each flight, I had Charles choose the order within the flight, so I did not know which was the 99 and which was the 01 in each flight, but I was able to guess correctly in most cases knowing the character of these two vintages.

All wines were double decanted around 10am with some left open longer. Dinner began a little after 7pm and ended close to midnight.

Click on a photo with a border for a larger view.

Leaving my hotel and seeing
the new World Trade Center.
The front of NY Vintners.
Our dinner was two floors below.

Marc & Tony setting up in the spacious cellar room.
More people photos are together at the bottom of the page.

Appetizers with Champagne and the First Two Flights

The lower right is a Hudson Valley Foie Gras Mousse with Sea Salt and Gingered Apples on top.

Champagne Starter

Flights 1 and 2
Flights 1 and 2 were served together with the appetizers pictured above. I told everyone that the first 2 wines were Flight 1 and the last 3 formed Flight 2.

Flight 1: Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
Flight 2: Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato

Flights 3 and 4
Risotto with Italian Summer Truffles
Flights 3 and 4 were served together, but everyone knew that the first 2 wines were Flight 3 and the next 2 formed Flight 4.

Flight 3: Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste
Flight 4: Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia

Flights 5 and 6
Cinnamon Braised Osso Buco with Milled Polenta and Black Truffle
Flights 5 and 6 were served together with everyone knowing that the first 2 bottles were Flight 5 and the last 3 bottles formed Flight 6. Only I knew that they were all Giacosa.

Flight 5: Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto
Flight 6: Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto

These were served with Flights 5 and 6, but I waited until after to try them. These were delicious, but not so wine-friendly.
Broccolini with Espelette
and Castelmagno Cheese.
Olive and Herb Heirloom
Fingerling Potatoes.

Served with Cookies and Chocolate Truffles.


This was a truly great tasting. It was well-organized, and I will take credit for organizing the wine theme and the choice of producers, but it was the participants who dug deeply in their cellars to bring these great wines and who provided the very enjoyable comradery and knowledgeable conversation.

Both vintages, in fact all the bottles, showed very well. In this regard, we were simply lucky. 14 bottles of Barolo, not one tainted.

As far as these two vintages go, by and large the 2001's are more backward and tannic, but both vintages produced terrific wines that should live a long time. I still find the 2001's more classical, but the 1999's are great too, for the most part a little more lush but still with great structure. There is some parallel to the 1990 and 1989 vintages, with 1999 being more like 1990 and 2001 being more like 1989, but the difference isn't as great. It seems to me that 2001 is not quite as structured or classical as 1989 was, while 1999 is not quite a lush or forward as 1990 and will probably age even better than 1990.

The first 5 flights before the unveiling. (Photo by Eric Guido.)
All the reds unveiled.

Tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.

Eric Guido's notes on this tasting can be found here.

People Photos
Click on a photo with a border for a larger view.

Chef Ryan Smith sees we are all happy with the food,
while Jamie tastes and Marc meditates.
This time Marc tastes, while (r to l) Jamie, Eric, & Jon meditate.
Ben, Iggy, Tony, Mike.
Jon, Eric, Jamie, Marc, and Ben on the other side.
Jamie on the left, Ben, Iggy, Tony, & Mike on the right.
My only photo of Sommelier Charles Springfield at the far end of the table.
His management of the wine and service was terrific.




All original content © Ken Vastola