Nebbiolo Prima Previews: Barolo DOCG 2019, Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 and Retrospectives

Nebbiolo in Alba, Piemonte

What makes Barolo so special? We know of its great aging potential but how do we taste at an anteprima and decisively determine which will go the distance, while forecasting that others will presumably fail? What are the rules of qualification with so many intangibles involved? Well it begins, as it must, with location. The Langhe, plural form of Langa, a Piedmontese way of saying “a long and low-lying hill.” Reference to an area that lies to the south and east of the Tanaro River in the provinces of Cuneo and Asti. All of the Barolo growing area can described in a knowable and specific way, even if the morphology changes from north to south and west to east. Drawing a diagonal line from the northeast down to the southwest can define the two soil epochs of Barolo; from between Roddi and Grinzane through Castiglione Falletto down through Barolo and to Novello. This line will separate the epochs of soil, the Tortonian from the Serravallian, both of which were formed millions of years ago. The Barolo on either side will not be the same, that much we know to be true, but make no mistake. All nebbiolo raised and produced as Barolo need time in the bottle.

Nebbiolo Prima 2023

Related – Barolo DOCG previews and retrospectives: 2016, Riserva 2014, 2006 and Riserva 2004

Try not to discriminate too much between the T and the S, the west and the east. They are all sisters and brothers, kin cut from similar cloth, of shared DNA and are always family. The western Tortonian soils of La Morra and Barolo may be less compact, more fertile and their Barolo needing less time to shed astringencies caused by formidable tannin. As a general rule Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte and Castiglione Falletto might hold more Serravallian cards with terroir that is dense and compressed, causing more structure, higher alcohol and body. In the end Barolo is Barolo. Concentrate more on the subtleties of the classified cru, not to choose the excellence of one over another but to seek understanding in the adjunctive mentions and the wines associated with each locality. Associated to each cru are the producers, of varying pedigrees and successes – here is where we the pursuers uncover the truth and heart of the Barolo matter.

Godello with the Sommeliers of Nebbiolo Prima 2023

Blind tasting adds a whole other dimension, but wines do not lie. Don’t we just feel it – when greatness is in the glass? Taste one, or several hundred examples over the course of just a few days – the learning curve is the same. There is certainty in knowing what it is to be a well-structured nebbiolo. The eponymous Barolo village lends its name though there are eleven (and their environs) that can make nebbiolo carrying the name: The others are La Morra, Monforte, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Novello, Grinzane Cavour, Verduno, Diano d’Alba, Cherasco and Roddi. These villages and their surrounding kingdoms play collective host to the profoundness of a grape married to place – forever bound, unfettered, undeterred and unbreakable. Nebbiolo and in turn Barolo are encapsulated by the soils, hills, winds and genius loci of the Langhe. Barolo owns the title of “Grand Italian Wine” and for good reason.

Related – Barbaresco DOCG previews and retrospectives: 2017, Riserva 2015, 2007 and 2005

Barolo’s official DOC recognition happened in 1966 and in 1980 the DOCG followed. With each passing vintage the most common talking points and focus of both journalist and sommelier investigations has become individual vineyard names, a.k.a. sorì, cru or Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (MGA).  There are more than 100 officially recognized MGAs in Barolo. At the most recent Nebbiolo Prima 40 journalists from around the world tasted hundreds of Barolo, primarily by way of a sommelier-poured, blind-tasting setting. As it pertains to those daily sessions, the tastings were organized first by village and then cru from each of the 11 villages home to their own famous holdings. Launched in 1996 and in 2010 re-baptized as Nebbiolo Prima, this is the international preview of the new releases of Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero.

One of Alba’s most traditional antipasti and must supper at feeding holes is Ristorante Lalibera ~ Carne crudo along with six top Langhe producers and life was Grande!

In La Morra the MGAs include Arborina, Boiolo, Bricco Luciani, Brunate, Capalot, Casa Nere, Castagni, Cerequio, Gattera, Gianchi, La Serra, Marcenasco, Rocche dell’Annunziata, San Giacomo, Serradenari, Silio and Torriglione. Barolo’s are Albarella, Boschetti, Bricco delle Viole, Buon Padre, Cannubi, Castellero, Coste Di Vergne, Fossati, Monrobiolo Di Bussia and Sarmassa. In Castiglione Falletto there are Altenasso, Bricco Boschis, Brunella, Monprivato, Parussi, Pira, Rocche Di Castiglione, Scarrone and Villero. In Serralunga d’Alba the cru include Boscareto, Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia, Briccolina, Broglio, Cerretta, Gabutti, Gianetto, Lazzarito, Marenca, Margheria, Meriame, Ornato, Parafada, Prapò, Sorano and Vignarionda. Monforte d’Alba holds the vineyards of Bricco San Pietro, Bussia, Bussia Dardi Le Rose, Bussia Vigna Fantini, Castelletto, Castelletto Persiera, Castelletto Vigna Pressenda, Ginestra, Vigna Sorì Ginestra, Gramolere, Le Coste Di Monforte, Mosconi, Perno, Pressenda, Rocche Di Castelletto and Treturne. From Novello there are Panerole, Ravera and Sottocastello Di Novello. Verduno holds Monvigliero and San Lorenzo, Roddi is home to Bricco Ambrogio and Raviole is within Grinzane Cavour.

I Tajarin in Alba is a rite of passage. This is the beautiful “40 tuorli” al sugo di salsiccia at Osteria Arco ~ Paired perfectly with Piedmontese wine people and their wines

The 2019 vintage is a special one and though it has been described as “conventional,” were there an argument over its merits, well that might lead people to think someone is having a really bad week. When bright, effusive and fresh nebbiolo are conversely met with the hardened walls of formidable structure – could this be the making of a perfect storm? Pay deep attention to these wines and feel the enormity of passion, intuit some immediate gratification and realize great potential for longevity. These 2019s are Barolo with every bit of necessary stuffing to age, not unlike 2016 and yet so many examples are blessed with a piquancy of beautiful, pure and finessed fruit. Sure it can be a challenge to taste hundreds over a few days period of time but thank goodness these wines are filled with so much fruit. It was a pleasure and indeed a privilege to partake in tasting and assessing this vintage. The 200-plus tasting notes below tell the vintage story, or at least my interpretation of it.

With Ana Schneider

The opportunity to taste so many Barolo and pay visits with dozen of producers was made possible by the organization of Albeisa and the leadership of President Marina Marcarino. The Consorzio Albeisa was founded to promote the wines of the Alba area to the world. Twenty seven years of Nebbiolo Prima has acted as the official international preview for the nebbiolo of Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero, “with the objective of heightening and promoting the winegrowing heritage of the Langhe and Roero, lands beloved and known throughout the world.” During this January week one of my life’s greatest pleasures was to meet and converse with Anna Schneider from the Instituto per la Protazione Sostenibile delle Piante ~ Schneider presented microvinicazione findings with ancient Piedmontese grape varieties from the Cantina Sperimentale for the Università di Torino, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari dell’Università degli Studi di Torino and Albeisa Wines. Next order of business is to find funding so that Anna can build a certification program for heritage vineyards in Piemonte in a similar fashion to what Rosa Kruger has done with the Old Vine Project in South Africa. Though some farmers and producers will insist that nebbiolo no longer thrives after 40-plus years there are always exceptions to rules and also differences of opinion. Not to mention other grape varieties that do in fact succeed on their over forty old vines. There is life after 40 and Anna knows this.

Barolo Retrospectives

This 27th edition of Nebbiolo Prima was a special one because it finally brought writers and producers back together in Alba. In 2021 and 2022 there were no anteprime for international guests. Keep in mind that not all producers participate in Nebbiolo Prima, for a myriad of reasons and so consider this report as a relevant snapshot of those that did. Return to these pages at a future time to seek out reporting on the nebbiolo of Barbaresco and Roero. As for Elio Altare, Azelia, Ceretto, Domenico Clerico, Elvio Cogno, Aldo Conterno, Giacomo Conterno, Corino, Gaja, Bruno Giacosa, Elio Grasso, Mascarello, Giuseppe Mascarello, Massolino, Alfredo Prunotto, Rivetto, Luciano Sandrone, Paolo Scavino, Mauro Sebaste, Aldo e Riccardo Seghesio, Mauro Veglio and Roberto Voerzio, here’s to looking forward to having visits with them and their wines. Alas my Barolo notes from Nebbiolo Prima are now transcribed and here for the taking. There are 229 reviews in total; 184 Barolo DOCG 2019, 19 Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017, 14 Barolo DOCG 2009, two Barolo Riserva DOCG 2007 and 10 assorted library wines.

Albeisa Wines

Barolo DOCG 2019

Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG Del Commune Di Diano d’Alba Contandin 2019

Immediately recognizable as pure, authentic and honest Barolo. A certain sense of nebbiolo ubiquity but more than that, up and into a realm occupied by some experienced and aging vines, classic fermentation and elévage. A Diano d’Alba concern for respect and a vintage sweetness in fruit meeting high acidity that makes this a perfect Barolo for five to maximum 10 years. Respect. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

La Carlina Barolo DOCG Castello 2019, Grinzane Cavour

A bit of volatility off the top, high tonality, pitch and voice but also a percentage of overripe fruit in this scattered nebbiolo. Tart and crunchy, acids and dried notes in fruit and herbs not quite seeing eye to eye. Some grit here. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Cappellano Di Veglio Luigi Barolo DOCG Raviole 2019, Grinzane Cavour

Calm, mature, settled and knowable nebbiolo, a Barolo made with an eye in all directions from a producer that knows many things. At the top of which is the natural world and yet this carries the feels of an example that is equally estate as it is place. I’ve a mind to believe the other wines made here are very similar is style, stature and disposition. Acids and tannins both run high and in charge. Drink 2024-2028. Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Agricola Fratelli Broccardo SSA Barolo DOCG I Tre Pais 2019, Più comuni

In the ways of bright, airy, high and mighty nebbiolo comes this Barolo of no particular mention of a few communes gathered together and set into ubiquitous stone. Tart, salty, thin-skinned, lightly pressed and minty cool. A savoury and saline example for food only in the early days of its tenure. Acids trump tannins at every step. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Abbona Di Abbona Marziano e C. Barolo DOCG 2019, Più comuni

A nebbiolo of weight that resides down below, bracketed at the lower rungs of the overall ladder, fruit mature and maximized where ripenesses gather. Fulsome and brooding, acids also running amok, keeping the beat though fruit lays low. No rise or tempo changes on the horizon. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Grimaldi Bruna Barolo DOCG Camilla 2019, Più comuni

Fine if middle road taken Barolo, surely knowable as well kept and properly raised nebbiolo, yet something so simple. A good weight and classic temperament no doubt, heady aromas of roses and tar, structural aspects in synch, a gathering of fruit here and there layered with purpose, by intention, for right and just reason. Architectural and respectful nebbiolo. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cordara Ornella Barolo DOCG Debutto 2019, Più comuni

A combination seen, nosed and tasted many times before, that being high acid intensity and mature fruit. A factor of muscle memory, of creating Barolo from nebbiolo without allowing for change. That said this is a very youthful wine and time will be kind because the large wood aging will slow down the fruit and reign in the volatility. As a mature Barolo it will drink with proper tradition. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Francone Di Francone Fabrizio E C. Barolo DOCG 2019, Più comuni

The immediacy elicits a nod or two in knowing something is correct but also respectful from this nebbiolo. Something traditional but also accepting off technology and change. The fruit is variegated, at once mature but then also effusive. The acids are forceful though in two parts and one side is restrained. Overall there is a true Barolo feel that speaks to an amalgamation of good vineyards processed by a forward thinking wine team. Results in high quality done right. Not just correct but proper and promising. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Marengo Mauro Barolo DOCG Angela 2019, Più comuni

Volatile off the charts and dried fruit. Hard acid and tannins dry out like roses in a hot desert wind.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Parusso Armando Di Parusso F.Lli Barolo DOCG Perarmando 2019, Più comuni

Definite Ribena and tart red fruit straight away. Dextromethorphan stirred into sauvage. Chorizo too. Drink 2024-2025.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG Pio 2019, Più comuni

Closed aromatics, needs air and agitation, not reductive but unrelenting. Roses come first, brushy herbs next, rosemary mainly and then the fennel. Quite a taut, arid and grippy nebbiolo, traditional to be very sure and needing years to resolve. Will always be rustic and loyal to years of repetition. In this instance that is perfectly great. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sarotto Barolo DOCG Briccobergera 2019, Più comuni

Brighter and more of a hello take a look at what I’ve got to show nebbiolo with an aroma like rose petals swimming in rosewater. Some volatile grip behind the pretty secrets yet the two seem to be working in cahoots so keep on going. Palate takes the appropriate next step and wells with a pool of red fruit, submerged cap macerated for what feels like a few weeks or possibly more. Creates texture with some creaminess and though wood lends a few extra drops of vanilla there is an overall feel of integration and a gift-wrapped result. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Spirito Agricolo Ballarin Barolo DOCG Tre Ciabot 2019, Più comuni

Off-putting if auspicious start with an aromatic wave of greens and reds, ripenesses mixed and volatile compounds circling. Hard and brittle tannins will never abate. The wine is what it is.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Morra Barolo DOCG Zinzasco 2019, Più comuni

Zinzasco translates as “gypsy” and is actually a Barolo named for the trails that link the family’s holdings both in Verduno and La Morra. A mix of vineyards from the two communes provides the fruit that sees a 25 day soak followed by 24 months in a mix of grandi botti and tonneaux. All about aromatics, high and mighty ones with a wave of florals, by lilies and lilacs. Fine and of a presence that’s just accessible enough in terms of nebbiolo and Barolo. Feels like a restaurant list bottling, classic and affordable. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted January 2023

Vigneti Luigi Oddero E Figli Barolo DOCG 2019, Più comuni

Reticence but lights are on ahead. Extremely youthful with sharp acids and biting tannin. Needs so much time but there is fine lightning fruit waiting to flesh and release. Still this will always be a nebbiolo of excitability, unchecked and unkempt aggression. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Vite Colte Barolo DOCG Paesi Tuoi 2019, Più comuni

Dark and brooding fruit with firm and grippy structural comports. The tannins are admittedly a bit gritty and the overall feel here is a seriously grippy wine though one can’t help but feel that time will bring about both resolution and ruggedly handsome features. Muscular yet in control if just a bit gangly and unkempt in youth. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bruna Grimaldi Barolo DOCG Bricco Ambrogio 2019, Roddi

Fruit ripeness and maturity noted off the top in aromas that recall liquorice, dried roses and braised fennel. Aromatic but an evolved sensation translating directly onto a palate that delivers more of the same. The parts that prop and lift are solid and do much the same work. So yes everything is on the same page for a nebbiolo as Barolo from the slope that is Bricco Ambrogio in Roddi that will drink just like this for three to four years. Catch it in this early-ish window. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Lodali Walter Barolo DOCG Bricco Ambrogio 2019, Roddi

High tonality juxtaposed against a backdrop of maturity puts this right into the pool occupied by Barolo for drinking young and a must with food. Then again there are some gangly and gurgling tannins that need resolution so the best bet would be to wait two years and drink for two-plus more after that. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023


Bel Colle Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2019

Youthful and as a consequence quite reserved on the nose. Nothing musty though not forthright neither so time and fortitude are required to eek, coax and pull out the charm. That Monvigliero speciality awaits with a current scrape of orange zest and some other red citrus that teases and indicates what is likely to come next. That would be flesh that hangs on solid if nimble bones from a cru that gifts, given time is granted. That is a must because today’s quiet will beget tomorrow’s happiness. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted March 2023

Bosio Family Estates Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2019

Hard not to see, nose, taste and assess this as classically Verduno with layered if compact assets to speak of Monvigliero with kindness. A skilled winemaking joint between mature fruit and solid architectural bones for Barolo of near immediacy. A year or two will bring everything together but this is not a nebbiolo in need of resilience or renaissance. It will always impress and do so for a very long time. Crunchy then chewy. This is the shit for the cru. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Castello Di Verduno Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2019

Certainly tows the Monvigliero in Verduno line with classic ripeness meeting winemaking restraint, though this does seem to tip in the direction of the over, not the under. That is to say there is some mature fruit. Notes that inch into the leathery and the drying. As such the chasm widens and the volatility stands out but the combination of reserve and grip will see some genuine improvement over time. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Morra Diego Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2019

Higher and brighter for Verduno Monvigliero with lighting strikes from out of the acid skies and fruit strung really tight. A serious wine that does not smile and likely will not for years to come. Not an ideal balance now – yet still there is great hope because of place within place. Qualified Barolo in any case and will have its moment in the sun. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Alessandria Fratelli Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2019

Classically formulated, iterated and capitulated Monvigliero out of the commune of Verduno. The fruit has found optimum fruition and so the phenolic gain is both positive and proper. Matched well are the bones by extension from karst that sets the tone for grip while the seasoning is so very saline-mineral and white pepper. Beautiful Barolo in so many respects and yes, Monvigliero is a really fine cru leading to many fine wines. There is more gravity to this tannic situation out of which a firm handshake guarantees a deal struck to satisfy our wishes. This is tops and will drink with distinction for years to come. Drink 2025-2036.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Burlotto Comm.G.B. Barolo DOCG Acclivi 2019

Ubiquitous Verduno here in nebbiolo, a step up from Langhe to be sure but surely the base kind of wine for Barolo. Hopefully some young Monvigliero fruit and perhaps just a precursor to the possibilities of these Verduno vines becoming grander and grander over time. In drink now terms this is very good nebbiolo in fact if I were sitting down with a plate of Tajarin tonight I’d happily have a glass. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Morra Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo Di Verduno 2019

Not sure if San Lorenzo di Verduno elicits this sort of response to nebbiolo but the lift and anti-gravitas in this example sure sets it apart form Monvigliero. Quite tart and full of tang, tannins a bit gritty and angular. Needs two years and the wood has to melt, especially the high vanillin factor that stands out right now. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pelassa Daniele Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo Di Verduno 2019

A much more accomplished and finer iteration of San Lorenzo di Verduno to be sure, with a better connection between ripenesses and the way they stack but also layer. Tones run a just a bit high but the brightness and juicy fruit is well managed, and also appreciated. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

La Morra

Cascina Del Monastero Barolo DOCG Annunziata 2019

Quite mature in terms of fruit with a red berry to mandarin orange positioning and yet the structural parts are gritty-chalky, less experienced and not quite in synch. Remembering how young and precocious a wine like this can be is important because what notes ring out today will surely change, perhaps not tomorrow but a day or two later. Keep the possibilities in mind and imagine what might be. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Curto Marco Barolo DOCG Arborina La Foia 2019

Welcome to the first of La Morra with Arborina and its deep inhalant aromatic depth like few other Barolo. The cru-commune relationship depicts very serious nebbiolo that does not so much brood as it does weigh down with gravity, especially with the site specific La Foia. That said there is an orange zest and pomegranate feeling from this fruit to juxtapose and lift so that the weight of structure will not keep this Barolo down. This is certainly a style and one appreciated by many with its subtle swarthiness and pushing limits of what is pure in the arena of clarity. There is no denying the honesty and interpretation of soil. That is abundantly clear. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Curto Marco Barolo DOCG Arborina 2019

No two Barolo are the same, not even when raised and nurtured from the same cru, though there must be some similarities involved. La Foia and more general Arborina does in fact deliver the juxtaposition of density and lift and so when opposites attract there is great success. This achieves said goal by combining great ripeness with swarthy lift and does so with beauty more than brawn. Hard not to be wooed by a wine that acts this natural and in a way that says it could be nothing else. The thread runs through and the concept seems clear. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Curto Marco Barolo DOCG Arborina 2019

No two Barolo are the same, not even when raised and nurtured from the same cru, though there must be some similarities involved. La Foia and more general Arborina does in fact deliver the juxtaposition of density and lift and so when opposites attract there is great success. This achieves said goal by combining great ripeness with swarthy lift and does so with beauty more than brawn. Hard not to be wooed by a wine that acts this natural and in a way that says it could be nothing else. The thread runs through and the concept seems clear. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bovio Gianfranco Di Bovio Alessandra Barolo DOCG Arborina 2019

Same Arbonina flesh and La Morra bones yet here a bit leaner and less weighty. The acidity runs higher and so volatility sets the pace though that gently swarthiness of Arborina is absent from the mix. Fine and grippy Barolo if just a bit too tart and angular to be blessed. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Camparo Barolo DOCG Boiolo 2019

Here from Boiolo in La Morra the nebbiolo is stretched yet not elastic, linear and pulled as taut as it gets, like skate laces for full stability. No real joy here I’m afraid and while young Barolo is rarely about that ideal there must be great fruit and seamless structure to make it work. This carries just a fraction of both. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Spirito Agricolo Ballarin Barolo DOCG Bricco Rocca 2019

Bricco Rocca surely gains solar radiation from a fully exposed hillside because this 2019 Barolo exhibits all the ripeness that would have been possible in this vintage. Long, low and slowly capitulated phenolics for an already wise and mature nebbiolo that will drink well for a good number of years. We’re not talking decades but one to be sure. Tannins are a bit rustic but they do the trick and put this in good steading. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Marengo Mario Di Marengo Marco Barolo DOCG Brunate 2019

Quite closed and after tasting a few dozen 2019 Barolo it’s actually quite surprising that more are not like this Brunate. Or perhaps that is the cru in this vintage (and others) because time is a factor and so much of it will be needed to see a nebbiolo like this find its way. The bones, weight and substance are all there with potential running high, if at the moment desperately dry. Like to see this agin in five years time. Drink 2026-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sara Cortese, Mauro Molino Wines

Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG 2019

Perhaps because it was such a top quality growing season yet it feels like the classico Barolo was not compromised by all the best fruit being partitioned to the cru Baroli. Three La Morra vineyards make substantial contributions, including Béri and Conca planted in 1982. Molino’s La Morra was unaffected by the September hail that fell on other parts, including Bricco Luciani within the commune. Big French casks were used, of 50 HL for 18 months. As silky smooth as this is also glycerol of texture, fruit naturally sweet, shiny and fortified, likely as much as this cuvée has even shown. Elegant, suave and the sort of tannins that scroll across the palate. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted January 2023

Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Bricco Luciani 2019

The Bricco Luciani vineyard was in fact struck by the hail of September 5th to result in the necessity of reducing yields. The cru is situated south of the Molino property with a southeast exposure and its important fruit sees a mix of big barrel and also barriques. There were only 4,100 bottles made of this most elegant and perfumed nebbiolo that while some smaller wood brings an element of unresolved early seasoning, well the matters of finesse and haute style are unrelenting in their override. This young Barolo is a wine of two parts but given five to seven years it will transmogrify into something spiritual, with the potential for telling a religious Bricco Luciani story. Drink 2027-2037.  Tasted January 2023

Vietti Barolo DOCG Brunate 2019

Funky off the top with cheese rind and a note of reduction. Big and ripe but needs plenty of air and preferably agitation to realize the charm. Which is in fact the case though truth is the tannins are brutal and will likely never be what we would call unrelenting. Fortunately so much fruit rides along. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Enzo Boglietti Barolo DOCG Brunate 2019

On the lighter and less brooding side of La Morra’s Brunate with red fruit in a tart berry meets citrus kind of way. Like raspberries and pomegranates with all the greens involved, rosemary and dried fennel too. Tight wine, neither harsh nor astringent but rustic and so very young. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Alessandria Marilena Barolo DOCG Capalot 2019

Not exactly an open-knit and giving example of La Morra Brunate but there is surely a skeletal framework for which the fruit to hang upon, take its time to work through the kinks and flesh out. There is no doubt that the future will be much brighter than the present for a nebbiolo that must be given time to figure it all out. Seeing the forest through the trees is key because cask and structure are barriers and will be for these first five-plus years. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Alberto Burzi

Burzi Alberto Barolo DOCG Capalot Vecchie Viti 2019

High level ripeness noted straight away so despite the omnipresence of tannin there is surely a drink relatively sooner rather than later aspect to this Barolo. The intensity of tart flavours will not be denied and finding the right food partner is seriously key. There must be protein and also fat. Salt as well. It’s simple math. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Crissante Alessandria Barolo DOCG Capalot 2019

High quality emits and rigs form fruit destined to meet structure for classicism in Barolo. Right proper nebbiolo here and while the palate may seem a touch restrained the wine is just tight, as young Barolo so often is. The structure is strong and the flesh available will hang around for as long as it takes to see a resolution. Even if the fruit lays low in a dumb-like phase it will show resilience and come back to the party. Represents Caplet well with all parts in touch, including the savoury and mineral. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Enzo Boglietti Barolo DOCG Case Nere 2019

Casa Nere is both fruity and rustic, pretty and traditional. There is some VA in the wake off that fruit but it is in check so as not to fully distract from the goal. That would be mid-term aging and the kind of Barolo you want to bring out at dinner five to seven years post release or eight to 11 after vintage. Look just ahead of 2027 for this to begin its prime time at the table. Drink 2026-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

F.Lli Casetta Di Casetta Ernesto E C. Barolo DOCG Casa Nere 2019

So very primary, almost carbonic in terms of aromas and so seeing far afield is the only way to make judgement on such a nebbiolo. The tannins are so bloody tight and they double down on the sanguine, blood orange aspects of this still reverberating Barolo. Looks like it will morph into something proper but the jury will be out for several years time. Drink 2026-2032.  Cask sample tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Cappellano Di Veglio Luigi Barolo DOCG Castagni 2019

Completely unique profile in nebbiolo for Barolo from the cru of Castagni which for all intents and purposes is a singular estate’s block of soil. Liking the chalky constitution and gentle swarthiness of this nebbiolo and while the tannic thrust is tough on the palate there is plenty of fruit in a ripe and substantial way to keep up with the plan. Should resolve into a Barolo worthy and revered. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Michele Chiarlo Barolo DOCG Cerequio 2019

From Cerequio there is a notable swarthiness and wooly character, this without even taking a sip. There is also a great and compact set of moist red fruit out of a most aromatic nebbiolo. Stands out from a pack and so the cru is wet to be heard. Youthful and grippy but these are tannins of a polished ilk that match the wealth of the perfume. A Barolo of all parts elevated and characterful, without a doubt one that will soon become charming and even gregarious. Impressive stature here. Drink 2026-2036.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Molino Mauro Barolo DOCG Conca 2019

The Conca cru out of La Morra delivers a lean, light and über transparent nebbiolo for a very specific style of Barolo. Red citrus from currants to pomegranate and really tart acidity. Though the grittiness in liquid chalky tannins will eventually dissolve, this Conca will show its best in the mid term. After the end of this decade there will likely only be the acid structures left to direct the palate. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Crissante Alessandria Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di La Morra 2019

Reductive though not super distractingly so and fruit ripe enough if variegated by combinative sources. Crunchy and just a bit astringent if a promising look ahead where tannins are resolved and the wine offers some love. Won’t ever be showy or gregarious – but time will be helpful and kind. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Alessandria Marilena Cristian Boffa Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di La Morra 2019

A bit closed and hidden as far as aromatics are concerned with just a peak of red rose, orange tisane and grated ginger. More like horseradish and so something occludent is in the way of what should be precluding. Tart and full on tang with middling tannin make for a wine to drink after the clock strikes 2024 and for just a few lean years after that. Not much fleshy substance here I’m afraid. A bit dusty. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cordero Di Montezemolo Barolo DOCG Bricco Gattera 2019

A smooth sailing season, weather consistent from start to finish, aside from the hail and the frost of September 5th. That was no disaster and the rest of September was perfectly fine. A nearly perfectly ripening in both pace and accumulation, picked on the 11th of October. A terrific Barolo, compact but not compressed, just the right amount of natural sweetness at all three levels; fruit, acid and tannin. That structure is again compact though nothing indicates weight or density but yes, plenty of gravitas. Beautiful nebbiolo and while it will travel long, it’s also nearly ready. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted January 2023

Carlo Revello & Figli Barolo DOCG Giachini 2019

Giachini is the first of the 2019 nebbiolo to be really present and emit prettiness. Also the first strawberry scented Barolo and so the cru is surely the source of such a red fruit stride. While the structure is anything but formidable there is a lithe white peppery pique and mild grip to see this drink well for let’s say up to five-plus years. If the price is right the buy in is really good. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Burzi Alberto Barolo DOCG La Serra 2019

La Serra lines up in a similar weight and vein to Giachini by an aromatic profile that is nothing but pretty with sweet perfume coming from fruit described as just the same. A bit more oomph and minty savour though subtle and just like spice or seasoning upon raw salty protein. Also a gentle swarthiness with that naturally woolly texture coating the palate to protect from a medium-plus intensity of tannin. This is a very promising Barolo. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi Marcarini di Bava Luisa & C. Barolo DOCG 2019

Reductive off the top and mature to indicate something problematic. Definite bottle issue here. Second bottle is much improved with great substance in spite of a lean and implosive profile. This nebbiolo carries proper and real grip with a profile so honest and transparent you just know that reality means producer, cru and soil are all important. Really young and must be collared to see where it will go. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Aurelio Settimo Barolo DOCG 2019

Energy as if a matter of semi-carbonic, an extremely useful contribution and gainfully swarthy. Tannins are fierce and the tension in this wine is serious. No doubt six months to a year will do wonders in terms of giving a more open impression of what is to come but make no mistake. The structure of this nebbiolo is massive and the fruit surely capable of keeping up with the Joneses. Drink 2026-2037.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pietro Rinaldi Barolo DOCG 2019

Middle of the road in all respects, first of red fruit with orange edginess and tension off the top. It’s a direct hit of nebbiolo, knowable and unequivocal with the cherries, tar, rose and herbs. Benchmark for ubiquity and tannins that back up the exercise for a five year run. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cantina Stroppiana Barolo DOCG San Giacomo 2019

Less of a direct hit but more like a kick in the side from classic La Morra perfume, savoury flavour and grip by tannin. Drier and dustier for nebbiolo which carries and expresses its very own style of ubiquity and this is a poster child for the like. The back end feels some weight and so the wine will likely begin to decline sooner than some. More lightness of being and laser focus would help but alas that is not this. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Carlo Revello & Figli Barolo DOCG 2019

While some La Morra attack with direct nebbiolo hits and others come from the sides there are some that split the twain. This nebbiolo would be that kind. Somewhat restrained aromas but the cherry, rose, tar and sweetness of herbs are there, albeit stuck behind a repealable veil of structure. Give this two-plus years and the curtain will be pulled away to reveal the wine this wants to be. Shows both good purpose and potential. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Monfalletto Barolo DOCG 2019

Darker, richer and quicker resolved fruit with drying yet ample tannins. A bit off a disparate nebbiolo for which the parts are far apart and need time to return to centre. Not certain they will ever meet at the exact middle. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Renato Ratti Barolo DOCG Marcenasco 2019

Really quite classic nebbiolo right here with high-toned red fruit in a red citrus and slightly dusty way, though more than enough charm to see the right, joyous and correct way. Tannins are a bit angry but that is not shocking and they will begin to subside after just a few years of time. Liking the transparency and honesty though would never see this as a rich and luxe example of La Morra. Drink 2026-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Dosio Vigneti Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di La Morra 2019

Lovely little nebbiolo here, sweet and sour fruit with a great tang and some of the easiest tannins of the vintage. Bring on the Chinese food! Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Aurelio Settimo Barolo DOCG Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2019

A swarthy and humid Barolo with the smell of fresh cut cedar, and the fresh savour of an evergreen forest. Incredibly savoury nebbiolo unchained and without restraint so viewed at the stage as a hyperbole of cru, that being Rocche dell-Annunziata. Good quality tannins here so the wine will live long and prosper. The style is exaggerated and you just may find it to your liking. Drink 2026-2033.  Cask sample tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Gagliasso Mario Barolo DOCG Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2019

A much more intense and serious nebbiolo from the Rocche dell-Annunziata cru is this right here with a variegation of tannins matched by substantial fruit with as much grip as anything else. Massive construction of Barolo with all the stuffing imagined for twenty years of living. Packed with insulation and the wine will never get cold or suffer from the elements. So well protected. Drink 2026-2037.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rinaldi Francesco & Figli Barolo DOCG Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2019

Very primary but the fruit is substantial and yet there is that cilantro soapiness that Barolo sometimes shows about the spicing of said fruit. Tannic yes but not over the top. Linear and focused so it remains to be seen where this will travel. Drink 2026-2031.   Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Very primary and how could it not be as a barrel sample and yet there are more resolved parts in this Rocche dell-Annunziata than others tasted from bottle. Expressive of a proper woolliness meeting chalky tannic presence to set this up for some good nebbiolo living. Chewy and drying at the same time. Drink 2026-2035.  Cask sample tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Ratti Barolo DOCG Serradenari 2019

High volatility creeping up into an acetic vein though this feels like a batch issue, not a problem with a particular bottle. Pine forest and wet straw, green tannins and harsh pepperiness. Some improvement on the palate and then finishing with astringent notes. Drink 2024-2025.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Dosio Barolo DOCG Serradenari 2019

Woolly and swarthy to begin, dusty red fruit in the citrus style of La Morra and here more specifically Serradanari. Dried cherries and also roses but substantial and the acids work to flesh them out, lend them solubility to become fresh again. Interesting nebbiolo, improving in the glass and becoming something worth following. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rizieri Barolo DOCG Silio 2019

Silio from La Morra is simple and effective as nebbiolo for Barolo of a tart, tang-filled and sharp tannic ilk. Not the most complex or diversified example but effective nonetheless. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Gagliasso Mario Barolo DOCG Torriglione 2019

Torriglione delivers a macerated cherry sensation as a lovely elixir of naturally sweet fruit. As a nebbiolo there is something intangible that reminds of a Piero from Talenti in Montalcino. Yes there are rare moments when nebbiolo and sangiovese converge, even if 99 times out of 100 they are more likely to diverge. This is lovely and spirited Barolo worth saving and cellaring. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023


Abrigo Giovanni Di Abrigo Giorgio Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Proper and balanced right away as Ravera yet with a pine-savoury edginess running through. Liquid chalky and just a bit sour-edged. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fratelli Broccardo Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Heady aromatic front, big-boned and fully engaged with the vintage. Quite sanguine and ferric, of iodine and balsamic. So much gravity and intensity, drying tannins and trenchant purpose. A magnanimous Ravera with much to prove. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Abrigo F.Lli Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Prettier fro Ravera with plenty of substantial fruit beginning and ending with cherries. Good intensity, not too much mind you and a nice sour edginess that keeps coming in waves, returning again and again. Good persistence from this nebbiolo, purposed and focused no doubt. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

G.D. Vajra Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Ravera is arguably the most important Novello cru and the eight iterations tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima show just how challenging it is to make a memorably great Barolo. A great number are impressive and then there is this take by the Vaira family. Their section of the cru might just deliver the richest and most unctuous fruit. Coupled with a season up there with the finest of seasons could result in something too ripe and upfront. “Al contrario, anzi, non così in fretta.” No shortage of generosity but team Vaira has written a perfectly paced nebbiolo song. An ode to 1975 classic rock but also something so new, modern and pure. The fruit is all pro, the structure no con. No adversity or issues with tannin because the chains are so strong and suave. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted January 2023

Grimaldi Giacomo Di Grimaldi Ferruccio Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Swarthy and high volatility upon sour dark cherry fruit. Crabapple and red onion skin as well. Fruit is a bit too mature. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Vitivinicola Cagliero Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Bright, natural sweet and sour juxtaposed fruit of a balanced and consistent aromatic emission, with equal and persistent qualities exhibited by the palate. Yet there is something so savoury and edgy about the flavours, like lit tobacco of mild astringency. Close but no cigar. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Marengo Mauro Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Comes out like nebbiolo should albeit on the lithe and transparent side, of cherry fruit with a plumpness that’s more plum seasoned by cracked black pepper. Swarthy and salty, woollen and fuzzy. Unique to be sure. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Vietti Barolo DOCG Ravera 2019

Fine liquor of nebbiolo unlike any other in a flight adding up to 80-odd Barolo and so curiosity is piqued at attention. Lovely gelid consistency in a wine of great implosive intensity that should take a decade or more to unravel. The charm and excitability are strong. Look forward to returning again and again. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Piazzo Comm. Armando Di Piazzo Marina Barolo DOCG Sottocasetello Di Novello 2019

Cool, savoury and a bit boozy from ripe fruit, like macerating cherries in a simple syrup solution. Rich and unctuous with sweet acidity and tannins quite similar though they attack with fervour. Solid if a bit out of balance. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Grimaldi Giacomo Di Grimaldi Ferruccio Barolo DOCG Sottocastello Di Novello 2019

Quality nebbiolo fruit to be sure, straight away and with confidence. Liquid chalky and also peppery, herbal and with an Amaro finish. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

With Francesca Vaira

Serralunga d’Alba

G.D. Vajra Di Vaira Aldo Barolo DOCG Baudana 2019

You have to believe this Baudana was made for us, and I mean all of us to enjoy Barolo 2019 earlier than many of its peers. The nose is so smooth and inviting, the palette equally so and crunchy fresh. This is simply a fine composition that tells everything that needs to be known about the vintage. Red fruit just mature enough to be ready and structure determined by vintage, never trying too hard and ideal for the next five years. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Batasiolo Barolo DOCG Palladino Boscareto 2019

Boscareto doles Serralunga d’Alba with comfort and relative ease in nebbiolo of dark red fruit (think black cherry) and just the faintest hint of dustiness, like the skins of a red plum. Everything is just so – ripeness, acids, savoury bits, herbals and tannins. All in the right place at essentially the same time. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Brovia Barolo DOCG Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia 2019

Higher in tone, not exactly brighter but there’s an aromatic rise that comes from this, yet still what feels like typical Serralunga d’Alba. Roses and orange skin, a note of balsamico. Quite a taut and yet to yield example. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Batasiolo Barolo DOCG Briccolina 2019

Plenty of tradition in this Briccolina, if nothing else that is abundantly clear. Dark ripeness for the most part and that fine line walked between most excellent fruit and a swarthiness to remind that these vines grow in soil. Not to mention the wine is made in such a way so as to promote the relationship between the vineyard, the cellar and all that develops from out of a natural world. Plenty of potential and a wine for those who like a bit of sauvage. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Schiavenza Di Pira Luciano Barolo DOCG Broglio 2019

Broglio is a truly tart and tightly wound example of Serralunga d’Alba but with tell-tale fruit that just feels like it could only represent the hills of this commune. Dustier than some others and like a wire wrapped and circling the spool, pulled so tight there can be no imminent release. Or anytime soon for that matter. That said you feel the effect of this intense juice on your palate for a good long time. Should age with the best of them. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Luigi Baudana Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2019

Considered the fruit’s pitch and depth this is a nebbiolo in which acidity is tops and surprisingly so. “Always from Ceretta” says Francesca Vaira. “Even if it is a very leafy vintage.” Truly, as noted in the savoury streak running through, surely not atypical for Ceretta cru. Red berries shading to black yet bright, shining and luminescent. Lovely version of Ceretta with a fine balance between that which is tart and naturally sweet.  Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted January 2023

Germano Ettore Di Germano Sergio Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2019

More than somewhat reductive Ceretta, of earth and fruit kept hidden for the time being but also a real mineral notation, or at least something that makes us think that to be the case. What lays beneath are classic notes, rose petals and tar, orange scrape and aromatics as if by ginger or the smoulder of spice on curing and smoking meats. There is a strong crust and slow developed Barque as a skin on this nebbiolo and in 2019 Serralunga d’Alba terms it will likely take as long to open up as any from the commune. Drink 2026-2033.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Garesio Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2019

Lighter and brighter for Ceretta from Serralunga d’Alba, fruit well developed and already showing a maturity for earlier access. Quite tart, high in acid and tannins feeling drying yet not so very long-chained. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Davide Fregonese Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2019

Straight away as much a feeling gained as being a nebbiolo from the greater whole that is Serralunga d’Alba though Ceretta focused this is and with time in the glass will open to reveal its particular specificity. A bit of cheese rind here, some deeper or more earthy grounding and a moment of brooding. Tannins are quite grippy and the wine will take its time. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giovanni Rosso Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2019

The consistency of Cerreta cru is quite remarkable and here another example that carries the weight and class with equal distinction. Tighter or at least as tight as any in its class, tannins immediately known to be grippy and in charge. A wine to wait on and wait for years because its far from ready. On the far side of 2019 in that regard and so remains to be seen if full beauty waits on the other side. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG Del Commune Di Serralunga D’alba 2019

Plain and simple the straight and narrow goods from Serralunga d’Alba with fruit part dark cherry and also plum dusty. Acids crunch in part because there are dried herbs and bits of tar in the nether with tannins grippy but also a bit hard. Middle of the road example that also needs a few years to settle in. Will always drink as a dry and taut nebbiolo. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

De Simone Roberto Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2019

Perfectly light to mid weight Serralunga d’Alba in the most generalized and understood way. A good combination of commune vineyard fruit to create a layering that is pretty much seamless and proper though there are bits here and there that flash and spark. Lovely level of tart and fruit tang, mild earthiness and just as it began it then finishes with medium intensity tannins that follow suit. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Franco Boasso Barolo DOCG Margheria Del Commune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2019

Just a bit of a different sort of Serralunga d’Alba iteration coming from this non-specific commune nebbiolo with fruit as dark and mature as it gets for the greater sense of place. Deep inhalant of nebbiolo with more tar than roses and fruits both orange and red compacted one upon another, again and on repeat. So much up front including the tannins and it just feels like a fully pressed wine with everything coming at you, all at once. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Negro Angelo & Figli Di Giovanni Negro Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2019

Once again the commune delivers its up front values with all parts equally on display if in the style of all in, with haste, straight from the word press. Leathery and earthy red to blackening fruit and all the acid-tannin structural demand, without waiting or holding back. This means the concepts of taut, tart and tang are compacted upon each other while drying notes bind it all together at a quick and forceful finish. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Enrico Serafino Barolo DOCG Del Commune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2019

A brighter and more effusive Serralunga d’Alba here, nice level of woolly aromatics that entice and linger so that you choose to spend more time on the nose of this intriguing nebbiolo. A gentler touch it feels, a press and likely cappello sommerso methodology that coaxes the right kind of perfumes and creates correct textures. This is simply a lovely and elegant iteration of commune fruit without stress, but with just the right amount of tension. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giovanni Rosso Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Serralunga d’Alba 2019

The sort of truly straightforward, expected and knowable multi-vineyard commune example is this from Serralunga d’Alba, without equivocation or fail. A just reward in nebbiolo, dark cherry in fruit, leathery and wise, tense yet never tired. Interest runs high and yet thinking too much about how it was made or for what purpose is simply unnecessary. Cellar for three years, pop and pour with a pasta course, preferably under a sauce of salssicia ragù. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Franco Boasso Barolo DOCG Gabutti 2019

Dry, earthy and a bit brittle in terms of structure but if you know you know and this is a prime example of a Barolo mired in a place that is ten years before its time. The bones are solid, the intensions altruistic and the confidence ahead of the pack. Gabutti is the cru in Serralunga d’Alba and seeing the forest for the trees is essential in knowing what will become. This moment is truly a “dumb” phase and greater things lay ahead. Trust the process. Drink 2026-2033.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Garesio Barolo DOCG Gianetto 2019

Gianetto is lithe and greatly perfumed as a nebbiolo from Serralunga d’Alba that is truly about beginnings with less attention paid to the greater picture. The fruit is naturally sweet but also quite tart and so there is a slight acetic elevation involved. Tannins are both dusty and brittle. Wait a year and then make use quickly after that. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023à

Here Lazzarito delivers a one-two pinch of fruit and also perfumes, of red berry and orange, of fresh rose and lilac. Quite a deep aromatic front followed by true depth and intensity on the palate. Big wine for Serralunga d’Alba, layered, compact and generous yet just airy enough to allow breaths of fresh acidity and essential oils to lubricate and elasticize the parts. There should be a long and prosperous life ahead for this special nebbiolo. Drink 2025-2034.  Cask sample, tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Casa E. Di Mirafiore & Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG Lazzarito 2019

Tart aromas, dark in violet light, a nebbiolo of chiaroscuro, shadows and hidden meaning. Perceived and felt with hunger and emotion but the wine requests that you take your time to gain an understanding of its meaning. Patience and attention paid will lead to the truth but also time as the factor for arriving at that place. There is profundity here, that much is apparent and it’s incumbent on you to reach said nirvana. Lazzarito will abide. Drink 2026-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pira Luigi Di Gianpaolo Pira Barolo DOCG Marenca 2019

Unusual nose for Serralunga d’Alba and perhaps just a sign of early maturity. In fact that is the case and this Marenca speaks in a language that says drink now. Softest tannins of any in the commune from 2019 but no faults, no issues and pretty good wine for right now. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pira Luigi Di Gianpaolo Pira Barolo DOCG Margheria 2019

A perfectly reasonable and well seasoned Margheria from the commune of Serralunga d’Alba brings a handsome and lean yet muscular tone to nebbiolo. The aromatics are neither shy nor running with haste and draw you in for more. Traceable actions, emotions and notions upon the palate make you realize this to be something consistent, persistent and quite fine. Nothing earth shattering but defined as truly responsible and beautifully plausible Barolo. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Manzone Gian Paolo Barolo DOCG Meriame 2019

Mariame is true to Serralunga d’Alba commune yet idealistic as its own cru as first noted in aromas running this way and that. Earthy fruit and a cheese rind that repeats with a lactic creaminess. Structure is one of grip and relent meaning there are tannins but they do soften early. The drinking window follows this course. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Manzone Gian Paolo Barolo DOCG 2019

Not the most open-knit or prominent aromatic front so pause and see what will be. A demi-classic Serralunga d’Alba perfume does come forth in the rose, orange, cherry and tar way but it’s both faint and uninspiring. Palate follows suit though admittedly improves upon the proposition. Solid wine in the end. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Vico Luigi Barolo DOCG 2019

A bit of a soft, lean and dishy dilute nebbiolo with no real grip or concentration. Not representative of Serralunga d’Alba in any meaningful manner. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG Ornato 2019

Tasted with Cesare Benvenuto in Alba from the Serralunga cru and a vintage of round fruit set against a backdrop of understated if surely intense tannin. A year for which a winemaking team had to reset and not push anything too hard, lest there creep in notes of volatility and astringency. Jam as well and the report on Ornato by Pio Cesare speaks nothing of these things. A softness in the beginning and also a state of grace with the force of structure waiting in the wings, respectfully and knowing now is the merely the time for introductions. Some fruit from 1947 planted vines takes part in this nebbiolo play and the rest seem to follow, fill and support, dutifully in the tradition of this menzione. Though those vines are hard to define in how they affect overall concentration there is the unspoken aspect of experience and strength. Of character which leads to probability to say this Ornato will live long and prosper for decades. Another stunner from the world of Pio Cesare. Drink 2026-2039.  Tasted January 2023

Palladino Barolo DOCG Ornato 2019

It all begins with Ornato in that the perfume is quite serious with an amazing display of ferric, hematic and smoked meaty notes. Really deep set of Serralunga d’Alba circumstances established in fruit, earth and stone for a wine of great and trenchant meaning. Structurally that is with backbone, essential acids and the kind of stuffing to see this travel with potential, possibly for decades. Controlled chalkiness and slightly heavy use of wood though that too will help see it live forever. Drink 2026-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Palladino Barolo DOCG Parafada 2019

Parafada being pretty and generous is no mistake for a nebbiolo predicated on perfume. Orange zest, cherry skin, red apple too. Not the most demanding set of structural circumstances right here and sometimes that is just fine. Drink this cru nebbiolo from Serralunga d’Alba sooner than Ornato. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Vico Luigi Barolo DOCG Prapò 2019

Lovely aromatic stance exerted by this Prapò out of Serralunga d’Alba with fresh cut flowers unlike most others and a depth of fruit to match the perfume. High quality work put in and continued in the cellar makes this shine without any volatility whatsoever. Perhaps a bit soft and barrel creamy upon the palate but a most amenable nebbiolo no matter how you slice this Black Forest cake. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Davide Fregonese Barolo DOCG Prapò 2019

This second of two Prapò out of Serralunga d’Alba is much like the first, pretty of perfume, floral and fruit juicy. The palate is bit tighter and the backbone more upright. Sacrifices some of that first encountered lithe amenability for grippier nebbiolo connections. Drink 2025-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Le Cecche Barolo DOCG Sorano 2019

Sorano is a lean and tannic nebbiolo from Serralunga d’Alba with some acetic tones and dusty tannins. Not a lot of joy early on and while time is an ally it will always remain tight and not what we would refer to as generous. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Terre Del Barolo Arnaldo Rivera Barolo Vignarionda 2019

Great initial swarthy launch into an aromatic display like a weather front rolled in and hovering over the earth. Vignarionda opens up and rains on earthy fruit in a nebbiolo that can’t be missed or ignored. Dark cherry, tar and some iodine to ferric tendencies. The palate shows more savour and wood, a spice factor but also a hollowness up the middle. Needs just a bit more stuffing though the wine never overworks or tries too hard. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023


Fratelli Serioe Battista Borgogno Barolo DOCG Albarella 2019

Herbal aromatic Barolo commune fruit puts Albarella in a cru of its own and speaks a particular vernacular. One of seasoning and then come the chains of tannin, marching in one by one. In a line, ready to battle. The rusticity in this wine speaks to the traditional, to big casks and loyalty. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Gomba Cascina Boschetti Barolo DOCG Boschetti 2019

Boschetti is simply beautiful, an aromatic stunner of rose bushes and red fruit so well seasoned and fortified to go on forever. While the nebbiolo in this glass is indeed something too behold it is also one contained within a bubble of great structure to see charm released ever so slowly with all signs pointing to this taking place over two plus decades. The first signs of release are five away. Drink 2027-2038.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

G. D. Vajra Albe Barolo DOCG 2019

Albe a Barolo of four cru, fruit source quadruplet of directions, like looking all four ways an intersection for nebbiolo that speaks four languages and answers four questions. Albe is the window into the 2019, accessible and inviting, fruit times four, all of which explain what a vintage has been from then moment fruit reach maturity and was picked. The precursor and foreshadow into all else to come. Muscular yet supple and with an aim to please. Tannins are nurturing and potential will be longer than imagination will allow. Drink this for up to 12 years. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted January 2023

G.D. Vajra Di Vaira Aldo Barolo DOCG Bricco Delle Viole 2019

Senses and palates are put on immediate notice for Bricco delle Viole because from out of 2019 the Barolo cru delivers something to stop us in our tracks. The confidence and restraint are more than admirable as they conspire for beauty and of course excellence. Purity of fruit, consistency in temperament and length to last a short lifetime are the combined quotient in this very special nebbiolo. Honesty and execution for Barolo incarnate. Drink 2026-2037.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Marengo Mario Di Marengo Marco Barolo DOCG Bricco Delle Viole 2019

This second of two Bricco delle Viole cru nebbiolo is deeper and darker or perhaps better assessed as quicker to explain its purpose from the 2019 vintage. The fruit exudes confidence and the wine wants you to know this, sans restraint. Acid to tannin structure do much of the same and the wood seasons everything to the max. Will live long though there will always be level of austerity involved. Drink 2026-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fratelli Serioe Battista Borgogno Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2019

Uncanny aroma of chocolate mint to say that wood is equal to cru in this Cannubi from Barolo commune. Seems to be a mix of cask and smaller barrels – likely some new barriques in this elévage. Also quite a note of evergreen and even clove. This is a maker who cares about their program and wants their wine to speak in this language. Fruit is a bit suppressed, tannins are quite dusty, acids strong. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Adelaide Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2019

Fine and spiced if a touch reductive nebbiolo with notable wood off the top as well. A Cannubi concerned with spicing and seasoning, generously salted and of a marked peppery kick. Fruit really shows well on the palate and the mouthfeel does well to express the generous nature of the cru. Long and rewarding to tell us time is the ally and this Barolo will outlast a great many others. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2019

Reticent, not reductive but somewhat closed. That said there is a creaminess to the aromatics, a lactic note and seasoning by scraped orange zest. Lots of wood here and a wine that speaks a language of honour and tradition. Dries a bit but is honestly par for the nebbiolo-Barolo course. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rinaldi Francesco & Figli Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2019

Nicely aromatic Cannubi, more so than the others in a flight of five, perfumed in floral ways and fruity to a great degree. Quite insular, implosive and tart after that with real tightness and tension upon the palate. Will live a good decade or more post haste in a period of quiet and resolution. Drink 2026-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

E. Pira E Figli Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2019

Classic Cannubi, perfumed and structured, rose to violet, acids and tannin. All of the above, heightened and then grippy, intense and ultimately long. Trenchant response to vintage for a nebbiolo of focus and reality. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Barale F.Lli Di Barale Sergio Barolo DOCG Castellero 2019

Odd entry, like play dough or yes indeed past water. Weak and pasty. Not great.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG Castellero 2019

Closed, lean, green and woody. Not a lot of fruit joy. Evergreen, brushy savour and so the character lies in these traits. A treatise between earth and stone, barrel and nebbiolo. What it is. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Camparo Barolo DOCG Coste Di Vergne 2019

Strong aromas, cru specific indeed, a Coste di Vergne speciality, hearty nebbiolo, heady and with healthy grip. No lack of substance or control in fact this Barolo takes the bull by the horns and rides astride. No fear here. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cantine Dei Marchesi Di Barolo Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Barolo 2019

High-toned, acetic edgy and youthfully gritty nebbiolo from the ubiquity of the Barolo commune. Bones are strong and tradition runs high so appreciate this nebbiolo for what it is. The real deal. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Borgogno Barolo DOCG Fossati 2019

Top quality fruit, substantial and layered if also compressed and compact. Classicism incarnate, nebbiolo scents captured in every respect, fruit oil the naturally juicy sweet side and herbals equally so. Lovely palate mouthfeel, smooth and ever so slightly creamy, a suave texture derived and ready for what comes next. That being tannins as agreeable as all parts come before and the final context is a beautifully composed Fossati with great days ahead. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Barale F. Lli Di Barale Sergio Barolo DOCG Monrobiolo Di Bussia 2019

Wood in every respect, vanilla and lavender, cloying and over the top. Evergreen and mint. Too much distraction.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bric Cenciurio Di Pittatore A E A Barolo DOCG Monrobiolo di Bussia 2019

An herbal nebbiolo from Monrobiolo di Bussia, amaro like, cool and sweetly bitter. Aromatically speaking that is and then comes the darkness of night in the way of tannin, just after a real tang on the central palate. A winner of three parts, though not all together. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Borgogno Barolo DOCG 2019

No cru or MGA mention from this solid nebbiolo of traditional scents and taciturn behaviour. Good bones, chilled features and just enough freshness to handle the tannins in attack. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bric Cenciurio Di Pittatore A E A Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Barolo Pittatore 2019

Once again a proper nebbiolo aromatic attack with no mention of MGA but here a clear and present pronouncement of commune. Barolo fruit for Barolo sake out of a vintage that complies and abides. Crunch and crust, earth and dust, fine lines and finer tension. Drying to a degree and the wood is just a bit over seasoned though time will help alleviate any pain. No undue stress in the end. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

L’Astemia Pentita Barolo DOCG 2019

The other nebbiolo from Barolo, fruit on the orange spectrum, juiced and zested, very much a sangiune and ochre citrus proposition. Also quite woody, vanilla and creamy on the palate, tannins serious. Quite dried out by the time the fruit has gone away but that is the nature of nebbiolo from a vintage like 2019. Time will begin the healing. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Roberto Sarotto Di Cavallotto Aurora Barolo DOCG Audace 2019

So much wood and no fruit as a result, or at last hidden beneath the sappy drip of vanilla and lavender.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Viberti Giovanni Barolo DOCG Buon Padre 2019

Tight and reductive, dark black cherry behind a wall of freshness and herbaceousness. Good acid-tannin structure and potential because there is a substantial amount of fruit kept safely tucked away. A top level nebbiolo without cru affiliation from Barolo. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cavalier Bartolomeo Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo 2019

San Lorenzo cru in Barolo commune brings forth solid nebbiolo drupe with fine acids and more wood than some. That said the barrel seasoning in spiced terms is proper and supportive though the dried herbs and resins do compound over time. And so time is needed to soften these things but not too much because there is a softness on the other side of this wine. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Brezza Giacomo e Figli dal 1885 Barolo DOCG Sarmassa 2019.

Reductive yet fruit juicy with a caper and dill acid addendum for a Barolo from Sarmassa that begins all over the map. Plenty of intensity and aromas to tell before transitioning to ample conditioning and substance upon the palate. So much going on in this wildly expressive wine and time will tell to see the settling, integration and positive consciousness. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cantine Di Marchesi Di Barolo Barolo DOCG Sarmassa 2019

The connective tissue between one Sarmassa to the next seems on display as here the early notes perceived go blood orange and also savoury caper. Yet this stays the citrus course with greater confidence and the juiciness of this nebbiolo is really quite special. Exhibits the right kind of tart and also a liquid chalkiness to speak of the earth, light clay and stone, in that sweet spot where fruit and tension collide. Tops for the cru and one that heeds the vintage with great distinction. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Virna Borgogno Barolo DOCG Sarmassa 2019

The third of three Sarmassa exhibits the most barrel in fact it throws the toasted oak full force into the tobacco and roasting meat aromatics without holding back. Vanilla and spices, clove nut also nutmeg and cinnamon. Can imagine a fresh autumn evening with pumpkin and beef stewing side by side with this nebbiolo. Über classic Barolo.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Castiglione Falletto

Cavalier Bartolomeo Barolo DOCG Altenasso 2019

Altenasso presents a specialized and unique profile of a nebbiolo nosing of flowers fresh and dried but also fruit like persimmon and apricot. Chewy fruit, leathery, dried roll up and the similar ilk. Tannins are chalky and a bit gritty but they will melt, coordinate with the other parts and the transitions will surely smoothen. Nice wine, mid-term aging potential recognized and a good fit for Barolo. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cavallotto Tenuta Bricco Boschis Barolo DOCG Bricco Boschis 2019

A barrel sample from Bricco Boschis and one of the more mature in this category, most parts resolved at least to a degree where seeing the goal is possible. Good connection between fresh and dried fruit, a bit leathery and certainly some maturity here. The tannins too though they are quite chalky and will take another five plus years to mostly resolve. There is a bit of Brett here, not egregious but definitely present. Drink 2024-2028.  Cask sample tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Boroli Barolo DOCG Brunella 2019

Nice immediate depth noted in this Brunella cru from Castiglione Falletto commune, a nebbiolo of aromatic weave in texture out of design. Black cherry and also a dark blood orange, berry to citrus, no real earthiness at all. More evolution is felt on the palate as well as some unresolved sulphite. Lends a peppery kick and the wine is a bit out of sorts. Offer it some time. Drink 2024-2027. Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Monchiero Fratelli Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Castiglione Falletto 2019

A nebbiolo from the commune of Castiglione Falletto with notable wood off the top and drying parts, in part because of the overuse of that oak. Simple wine from some solid fruit sources compromised by the producer’s cru divisioning. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Anna Maria Abbona Barolo Docg Del Comune Di Castiglione Falletto 2019

Good fruit and bones, a nebbiolo of traditional quality and yeoman work done up from a vintage that encouraged such an operation. Wood felt more on the palate in vanilla to chocolate with dried herbs and clay to finish. Pretty traditional stuff. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sordo Giovanni Barolo DOCG Monprivato 2019

From Monprivato and the kind of aromatic juices that need be encouraged as often as possible. The roses and orange citrus, earthy sweetness and no wood to speak of. There are no let downs or pauses in this cru’s interpretation of Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo, only seamless transitions and beauty throughout. The tannins are just that correct mix of sweetness and tension, tactile and the taciturn. Yes, yes, please! Drink 2025-2036.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Boroli Barolo DOCG 2019

Some evolution already with maturity of fruit in a raisin inflection. Tannins are equally mature and there are some sour notes overall. Drink up.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bovio Gianfranco Di Bovio Alessandra Barolo DOCG Parussi 2019

Lithe and citrusy, yet another blood orange cru for a vintage that seems to coax such notes without hesitation. Tart, tang, direct hits of acid and tannins doing much the same. Solid wine from the Parussi cru though not one to age forever. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rosoretto Barolo DOCG Parussi 2019

Once again Castiglione Falletto supplies a citrus stylistic through here there is as much pink grapefruit as there is blood orange. Seems lighter on the nose than on the palate as the texture goes a bit resiny and glycerin. Wood is a factor as noted by the chocolate and spices coming at the finish. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Brovia Barolo DOCG Rocche Di Castiglione 2019

Rocche di Castiglione shows immediate structure from backbone and strong grip in ways the other Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo don’t seem to do. Darker fruit integrates cherry into the blood orange citrus and wood sidles on along with equal and opposing force. A seasoned and spiced nebbiolo yet one with good tannic structure and the ability to age. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Monchiero Fratelli Barolo DOCG Rocche Di Castiglione 2019

The second of two cru wines from Castiglione Falletto in the Rocche di Castiglione MGA is even darker of fruit and headier than the first. As are the acids and also the tannins, fierce and holding quite the level of structural tension. This is a formidably assembled and constructed nebbiolo and one that can surely live two decades or more. Drink 2026-2037.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Terre Del Barolo Arnaldo Rivera Barolo DOCG Rocche Di Castiglione 2019

This third iteration of Rocche di Castiglione is an anomaly in that the fruit is neither dark nor are the bones of this wine as upright and strong as the other two wines. That said there is a different sort of depth in here, more aromatic, more fruit up front and also an earth derivation that really speaks too this sense of cru in the commune of Castiglione Falletto. The wine falls off a bit when it comes to mouthfeel because the tannins really dry out and suck moisture away. Solid wine though and much more traditional in several ways. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Bava Barolo DOCG Scarrone 2019

Scarrone is lighter of style for the commune of Castiglione Falletto and there is a great deal of barrel involved to decide the overall nebbiolo character. Chalky and with some grittiness, even a bit brittle I dare say. The ripeness is the heart of the matter and so time is an ally. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG Villero 2019

Incredible uncanny scent of liquorice or as it is said fennel from this Vilierio cru nebbiolo out of the commune of Castiglione Falletto. The aromas persists and the flavours only accentuate the initial notes. Then come dried fruit in pods, like carbon and bokser, finishing at drying herbs and tannin. Traditional work here to be sure. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi E Cantine Oddero Barolo DOCG Villero 2019

A fine and loyal Viliero comes from this herbal and clay-earthy nebbiolo with Castiglione Falletto backbone and utmost certainty for decades of aging. The elévage for this cru-designate wine is beautifully purposed, neither old-school nor modern and just expertly designed straight in between. Fine example that works the glass with excellence. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Monforte d’Alba

Cascina Sot Di Sanso Maurizio Barolo DOCG Del Commune Di Monforte D’Alba 2019

Interesting note of candied or almost crème brûlée of orange in a nebbiolo from Barolo del Comune di Monforte d’Alba. Rich and concentrated, fruit dark and almost mysterious what with its chiaroscuro effect. The structure is very middle of the road and the tannins are peppery so yes this will be a fine mid term Barolo but nothing to imagine as existing in a bubble to visit twenty years forward. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Icollirossi Barolo DOCG Del Comune Di Monforte d’Alba 2019

Dark cherry, equally citric and somewhat dusty nebbiolo comes from quality if quantified fruit sources adding up to ubiquitous Monforte d’Alba. A solid nebbiolo as Barolo, qualifying with exemplary distinction and just enough naturally curated swarthy character to give this wine its own personality. Tannins really dry away so give this two years minimum. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Conterno Barolo DOCG Del Commune Di Monforte d’Alba 2019

There are rich and dark Monforte d’Alba Barolo and then there is this example, lighter, transparent and unencumbered. Cherries are red, leather is fresh and and oranges are juiced into the wine. Dry and savoury, roses also arid and the wine just keeps saying “let me be, drink me later.” Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Anna Maria Abbona Barolo DOCG Bricco San Pietro 2019

Bricco San Pietro marches to a funky beat, apposite to many, akin to some of older heart and soul. It’s rhythms are unique, aromatics heady and flavours wild. Dark of berry fruit, sharp of acids and middling by tannin to speak of style but more so cru. Good fun, danceable Barolo, not one for the ages. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Pressenda Barolo DOCG Bricco San Pietro 2019

Brawny, haute and heady Bricco San Pietro in this glass so full, all in, concentrated and spoken of a matter of fact mind. Intensity of fruit intertwined with equally gregarious acidity, crunchy as nebbiolo, arrived in modernity, wine of open heart and mind. That said it’s a wine of solid construction and utilitarian architecture, built to impress and serve the people. Should do this well and with pride for a decade. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Le Cecche Barolo DOCG Bricco San Pietro 2019

Heady nebbiolo from Bricco San Pietro if more restrained then some others of its Monforte d’Alba cru ilk. Some swarthy peppery piques on the aromatics though subtle enough to stay in check. Cool savour mixed with black cherry does indeed put this in modern stance that is also grounded, balanced and hard to knock over. Really sturdy Barolo. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Podere Ruggeri Corsini Barolo DOCG Bricco San Pietro 2019

Big austere Barolo here from Monforte d’Alba in the cru of Bricco San Pietro with more than demanding tannins in fact they are the entire early attraction. Hard to see the fruit through the structure and the forest in a Barolo still stuck in wood. Extremely arid and tough. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Costa Di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

Unusual aromatic entry, part pine forest and part Castelmagno cheese. Either something is amiss or the nebbiolo here just comes out a little differently. The palate improves on the situation with some fruit sweetness and the tannins are relatively amenable, at least as far as youth and nebbiolo are concerned. Wait two years and drink for seven. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Agricola Gian Piero Marrone Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

Boozy nose on this Bussia with austere tannins that skulk, command and numb the wishful fruit. There is just too much extraction of structure for the purple-violet gang to find sweetness anytime in the near future. Ambitious and such trenchant desire puts this Bussia in a league of its own. Fearing that the waiting will be a minimum seven years before any real charm or natural fruit will begin to emerge. Drink 2026-2036.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Adelaide Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

A fine and flirtatious Bussia here from the swinging esses of a valley that snakes through Monforte d’Alba for nebbiolo you just need to know more about. A great and soulful swarthiness initiates the kind of character to speak of a natural approach and an abiding of cru. Cool, savoury-sour-sweet and also umami balance with no lead taken and all aspects working in cohorts. A nebbiolo to revisit again and again, to make friends with, to know for life. Drink 2025-2038. Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023.A fine and flirtatious Bussia here from the swinging esses of a valley that snakes through Monforte d’Alba for nebbiolo you just need to know more about. A great and soulful swarthiness initiates the kind of character to speak of a natural approach and an abiding of cru. Cool, savoury-sour-sweet and also umami balance with no lead taken and all aspects working in cohorts. A nebbiolo to revisit again and again, to make friends with, to know for life. Drink 2025-2038.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Podere Ruggeri Corsini Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

Darker of fruit and gainful of acidity, a Bussia that challenges tradition and accepts climate for how it will affect what is to come. A nebbiolo of strength across all parts and divides, moving through times of tension, built to last. It’s a different sort in certain respects and it deserves attention. It is part of the future. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi Colla Barolo DOCG Bussia Dardi Le Rose 2019

Tart, orange tang, strong pressed and juiced nebbiolo out of Dardi Le Rose within Bussia. Bones are stronger than they might have first seemed to be and this 2019 heeds the vintage quite well. Nothing too cumbersome up front and a Barolo that builds with time. Par for the course and age-able while also acting just about agreeable as a wine from this vintage can be. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi Fogliati Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

High-toned Bussia, more than most, almost volatile but just hanging in long enough with fruit to match the air. Crunchy nebbiolo, tart and with great implosive intensity. Lingers for one of the longest cru finishes of the lot. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rinaldi Giuseppe Barolo DOCG Bussia 2019

Orange off the top, a juice in which the roses swim and the cherries macerate. Lithe and transparent, Bussia light if you will or better yet a part of Bussia in vintage that directs such a transparency of style. Crisp and pure, one of the more focused Barolo from Monforte d’Alba although the wood is just a bit over onto the density defining way of this nebbiolo. Just the slightest lighter hand would have elevated this ’19 into the utter ethereal. In the meantime the wine will age very well because it’s so well balanced. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Amalia Cascina In Langa Barolo DOCG Bussia Vigna Fantini 2019

Rich and intense nebbiolo with more pinpointed dry accuracy as coming from Vigna Fantini within the larger Bussia. Doubles down on itself, concentrating a faction of the cru out of which there are glycerin citrus notes from head to tail, nose to palate. The parts are well synched in Fantini while the tannins persist with a fine elemental chalkiness though they are not overly demanding. A really fine example of a place within a place no doubt. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sara Vezza Barolo DOCG Castelletto Persiera 2019

Tart, and if there is some red fruit sweetness it stretches thin, dishy and somewhat dilute. Soapy like some would imagine cilantro and simple. Lacks concentration, clarity and ultimately structure. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo DOCG Castelletto 2019

Closed as far as a Monforte d’Alba Barolo is concerned which increasingly seems to be a trait of the cru Castelletto. There feels to be some classic Barolo scents behind the veil, namely roses and cherries, tart, light and juicy. Good appellate, applet and palate presence to be sure, nothing extraordinary or out of the ordinary but balanced and promising. Will surely benefit from the bottle. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Conterno Fantino Barolo DOCG Castelletto Vigna Pressenda 2019

Funky and lactic Castelletto, orange rind and cheese crust too, tang in waves and acids very much the director of this nebbiolo cru’s attempt. Lean in the middle stages and austere at the finish. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fortemasso Barolo DOCG Castelletto 2019

Right, correct and proper Castelletto straight away, giving forth great richness of fruit and basically in delivery of all the finest attributes this cru could have from the vintage. Exemplary of 2019 without total struggle and this is nebbiolo that seems so comfortable in its own skin. Good chewy middle palate and welcoming throughout. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Raineri Gianmatteo Barolo DOCG Castelletto 2019

The darkest of Castelletto fruit with full on Monforte d’Alba sun-grabbed extraction. Concentration is the result for a richness of nebbiolo fruit at the height of cru heights. Does it all up front and then tapers off, descending into denouement quicker than some but the ride was pleasurable. Pretty classy wine all in all if not one to age with for a decade. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Chicco Ginestra Barolo Riserva DOCG 2016

A wise, mature and resolved Barolo that now sits in a lovely state of nebbiolo calm and interprets “the nobility of the soil,” this according to Fabio Faccenda. Ginestra does indeed breathe of its micro-climate, in particular the Ligurian winds that blow through to influence vine cycles. A lovely state of grace at this stage for Ginestra, surely a Barolo with a full coat of barrel, integrated, seasoned and pretty much seamless at this stage. Dark chocolate and liquid cocoa mark the finish. Ready to go. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted January 2023

Conterno Fantino Barolo DOCG Vigna Sorì Ginestra 2019

Ginestra is of a higher tonal calling, black cherry fruit magnetized by balsamic and sweet leather. Opens up the olfactory like few others with peppery colts and volatile peaks. Cool and expansive through the middle though the void is filled with an austerity of variegate tannin. Not all perfect phenols here to speak of cru by way of vintage. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fratelli Alessandria Barolo DOCG Gramolere 2019

Gramolere is a lean, tart and tannic Barolo with little fruit joy up front. Quite tight, tough and austere, old school and herbal. Only time can heal the early wound and yet a wine of reserved fruit up front is not likely going to find heaps of natural sweetness later on. But it will always be Barolo. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Amalia Cascina In Langa Barolo DOCG Le Coste Di Monforte 2019

Good bones and solid fruit give this Le Coste di Monforte Barolo the grounding and the tools to do right by vintage and carry a nebbiolo torch. This is precisely what 2019 has delivered and here the acceptance translates to exemplary mid-weight Barolo. It is especially proper because the tannins are just about spot on. Very good work. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Conterno Barolo DOCG Le Coste Di Monforte 2019

From 2019 and just a bit of a shift to the left with a sour-edginess that is a bit distracting while tannins are jilted austere in the other direction. Time will be of some assistance but things are just a bit off centre. Still there is a reasonable vintage sentiment drawn and for nebbiolo more than enough to go on. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Diego Pressenda Barolo DOCG Le Coste Di Monforte 2019

Deep and seasoned nebbiolo takes full advantage of 2019 for this well pressed and therefore concentrated Barolo. Well representative of Le Coste di Monforte though not to be the longest ager of them all. Good acidity and quality tannins are supportive if a bit verdant overall. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Abbona Di Abbona Marziano e C. Barolo DOCG Pressenda 2019

A cask sample and one quite ready it seems as witnessed by the gregariousness of the aromas. Part dark cherry and part swarthy, full formed and intense. Tight Barolo for Monforte d’Alba, of strong voice and deep intention. Drink 2025-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023


With Giorgio Boschis

E. Pira & Figli Barolo DOCG Mosconi 2019

Lovely aromatic swirl from this Monforte d’Alba Barolo, a nebbiolo of liquorice and black cherry but more than that a full on swell of that fruit mixed with high acidity and heavy tannin. A big example, all in while also well-balanced, especially considering the concentration, extraction and heft. If it seems to miss the deft touch of some cru wines that’s youth talking and this surely impresses in so many respects. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Chicco Barolo DOCG Rocche Di Castelletto 2019

A bit of restraint on this Barolo that wants to be aromatic, no reduction per se but definitely a closed initialization. Plenty of attitude and swagger, confidence and knowhow. Dark cherry fruit for sure and a cool almost minty middle before relenting to a forceful and capable set of tannins. Proper and very correct example from Monforte d’Alba to represent Barolo, nebbiolo and 2019 with great distinction. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Parusso Armando Di Parusso F. Lli Barolo DOCG Mosconi 2019

Aromas are heady and a bit dank, of creosote, graphite and other wood-derived resins that dominate the front. Wet pine and also cedar, orange chocolate and too much oily to sappy intensity. Quite out of whack.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Poderi Fogliati Barolo DOCG Treturne 2019

Solid and correct Barolo from Monforte d’Alba, purely and expressly nebbiolo if a bit over-extracted, boozy and even jammy. Good chewy dark cherry and liquorice though of a sour set of flavours. Persimmon and fig, some over maturity and sliding forward with haste. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Réva Barolo DOCG 2019

Nice citrus display, red and orange, into pomegranate and currants. Tart Barolo with vintage tang, idiomatic of Monforte d’Alba and solid throughout. Getting the roses and the tar, all the right moves, a vintage wine that does things with great correctness. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cantina Del Nebbiolo Barolo DOCG Perno 2019

Lovely example of 2019 Barolo with the ethereal aspect of Perno in Monforte d’Alba though also a wine with a highly perceptible presence of wood. The juxtaposition of bright red currant and rosy fruit against vanilla and spice is currently a disparate proposition though time will do wonders to bring the parts together. Will flesh out as a result and surely be a very different wine five-plus years down the road. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Raineri Barolo DOCG Perno 2019

Repeatable style it feels, as Perno though fruit here is a darker reddish orange with some earthiness involved. Leads to an easier tumble with the acids in particular but also the level of barrel involved. Integrates well at this early stage and the prospects for a clean and seamless future looks good indeed. Great structure here and a Barolo from Monforte d’Alba that should live well. Drink 2025-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Schiavenza Di Pira Luciano Barolo DOCG Perno 2019

Funky and separately volatile, overheated and while trying to be a lithe and transparent Perno there is no hiding from the acetic meanderings and wood spice in full on smoulder. Ends up being tart, tight and austere. Drink 2025-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sordo Giovanni Barolo DOCG Perno 2019

A verdant evergreen dominated Perno from the top, wet pine forest and cool savoury herbals, even a shot or two of Amaro. Similarly styled on the palate, chewy liquorice, blanched fennel and more of the same on repeat. Very tannic. A wine with character though one that is of an idiosyncratic kind. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017


Gomba Barolo Boschetti Riserva DOCG 2017

If Riserva smells like Riserva and Riserva acts like Riserva then it must be Riserva. The wisdom in aromatics from experience determine this 2017 as it must, in controlled concentration and of a maturity that speaks to grounding, not evolution. And yet this is just so very 2017 in the earthy but also edgy behaviour, somewhere between rustic and glorious. Clearly haute conditioning for the vintage and a Barolo from Boschetti cru that will live as long as any. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Viberti Giovanni Barolo Riserva DOCG Bricco Delle Viole 2017

Bricco delle Viole and 2017 are stand alone and though we are seeing this two years advanced from current vintage 2019 Barolo there is something about this Riserva that speaks to it having always been this way. Swarthy and woollen that is, but so bloody characterful and with chalky tannins yet to resolve. This is a Barolo of strength that moves with elasticity, bending and stretching, working its muscles and biding time. Another year or so and there will be more elegance involved. Truly complex Barolo Riserva indeed. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 202

Brezza Giacomo E Figli Barolo Riserva DOCG Sarmassa Vigna Bricco 2017

Sarmassa as Riserva is quite intense from 2017, aromatically speaking, indicating a concentration and compacting of rose petals and sweet herbs. A handsome nebbiolo, firm and reserved, wearing a serious face and clearly built for long aging. Perhaps as long as any 2017 Riserva will. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Castiglione Falletto

Cavallotto Tenuta Bricco Boschis Barolo Riserva DOCG Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe 2017

Not entirely sure why there is a need or desire to show a Riserva 2017 from a cask sample but frankly this feels ready to be in bottle. The aromatics are resolved, the fruit laid in a state of preparedness and the nebbiolo character intact, with tact and in display of its varietal guarantee. No other 2017 exhibits this much acidity and while some might see it as edgy to verging on volatile, the reminder is this. Bricco Boschis, Castiglione Falletto and an old school soul for Barolo that will outlast them all. What a glorious Barolo, without holes and one hundred percent in charge of its emotions. Ours submit to the character of this great nebbiolo. Drink 2025-2040.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giacosa Fratelli Barolo Riserva DOCG Scarrone Vigna Mandorlo 2017

Scarrone out of Castiglione Falletto is a deep one from 2017, of extreme ripeness and an almost brooding character with baritone voice. Very tannic on top of deep, dark and cimmerian fruit, compact and of more density than most. Nothing left to resolve (for the most part) and these next five years will be the best. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rosoretto Barolo Parussi Riserva DOCG 2017

Parussi as Riserva 2017 is the most fruit juicy and accessible of them all. Red berries in the wild strawberry to raspberry with great sour tang and fine supportive acidity. Structure is one and done so drink this wine sooner rather than later. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

La Morra

San Biagio Barolo Riserva DOCG Bricco San Biagio 2017

Barrel sample so take it with a grain of salt through five-plus years in there should always be plenty to learn and figure out. Bricco San Biagio presents a lithe and transparent nebbiolo, regardless of appellation and this one is all red roses, many of them in a drying state. Lots of perfume but not tremendously complex. Some dried herbs and tannin doing the same. Further time in cask will not do this nebbiolo any favours. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Rocche Costamagna Barolo Riserva DOCG Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2017

Once again the resolution is in while the chances for revolution are past. Full and purposed Riserva here from Rocche dell-Annunziata, plenty of formidable tannin and the kind of exercise to speak of traditional values. Wait one more year but the nebbiolo here is well on its way. Time to bottle! Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind from a cask sample at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Monforte d’Alba

Cascina Sot di Sanso Maurizio Barolo Riserva DOCG Bricco San Pietro 2017

Grippy, firm and tannic Riserva 2017, transparent and yet elevated in glycerin, minty cool and dried herbal savoury. Yes, particularly tannic stuff here from Bricco San Pietro in Monforte d’Alba, fruit more than ready, structure always in charge. Must have traditional Piedmontese cuisine to make this one sing. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Costa Di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barolo Riserva DOCG Bussia 2017

And then there is Bussia, big and broad, muscular yet of a wide berth and shoulders stretching far and wide. Complexity of aromatics as classic as they come, tar and roses, cherries and leather. Perfectly repeatable on the palate, even keeled despite its tension and grip. A Barolo that is so bloody real and knowable, not one of fantasy and imagination. For the true collector. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Ettore Fontana Barolo Riserva DOCG Bussia 2017

Here the lightest and most transparent nebbiolo known to the Langhe in that triad of origin, for Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 out of Bussia in Monforte d’Alba. See right through this lithe one and use creativity in imagination to consider just how beautiful it surely has too be. The enchantress, the elegance of elegance, body, flesh and bones all perfect and in synch, a relationship between all, as one. A nebbiolo for which place of origin and vines have forged a union to last forever. There is neither rush to begin drinking nor haste to see the future. Drink 2025-2040. Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cantina Stroppiana Barolo Riserva DOCG Bussia 2017

Bussia is the largest of the crus and so there is no surprise that nebbiolo comes away quite different from producer to producer. This Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 is a darker, richer and more mature one though it’s not necessarily a question of ripeness. Extraction yes and also maceration. Expect both in this ’17 but also some drying tannins, peppery piques and a moment of unresolved sulphites. Really gets into the olfactory. A touch problematic and still needs to settle down. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Franco Conterno Cascina Sciulun Barolo Riserva DOCG Bussia 2017

Yet another Bussia unlike the others, here with some mature Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 fruit and a gentle woolliness. Quite tart and chalky, rustic to a pretty notable degree. Tannins are still gritty. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fortemasso Barolo Riserva DOCG Castelletto 2017

Haughty aromatic Castelletto from out of Monforte d’Alba commune matched by a fulsome, glycerin and dark berry set of flavours. A 2017 that’s all in with great ripeness and a cool evergreen middle. Warms at the finish and feels a bit elevated in alcohol but finds peace in maintaining balance. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Anselma Famiglia Barolo Riserva DOCG Adasi 2017, Più Communi

Deep, broad, wide breadth of more than one commune’s fruit composition, classic dark and modern fruit-styled Barolo. In terms of Riserva DOCG 2017 this fulfills the appellate warrant with concentration if not complexity. It will impress on a professional level if not a cerebral one. It’s good don’t get me wrong but not a nebbiolo of either fantasy or soul. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Negretti Barolo Riserva DOCG Bricco Ambrogio Indio 2017, Roddi

An impressive Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 because of its balance between concentration and structure with a wildly fresh berry set of aromatics. A Bricco Ambrogio nebbiolo in full open bloom right now, much of its structure exorcized and with acidity marching along every step of the way. A modern iteration drinking really well though with edgy tannins that seek salty protein for best results. Ready for Roddi. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Serralunga d’Alba

Enrico Serafino Barolo Riserva DOCG Briccolina 2017 

Briccolina out of Serralunga d’Alba is on the fulsome, opaque and ropey side of nebbiolo and yet there is a litheness of being that allows it to breath quite freely. In others words a Barolo Riserva 2017 spoken though modern vernacular, far away from ancient Piedmointese dialect. Suave and smooth, liquid chalky and just nearing the opening gambit of its play. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Réva Barolo Riserva DOCG Lazzarito 2017

Lazzarito is a conundrum as a cru because the nebbiolo from its Serralunga d’Alba soils can make for strange wines and also those that are simply brilliant. It is the Bourgogne of Barolo, fickle, challenging and of highest potential. This Riserva 2017 finds the great track, in delivery of fine and beautiful fruit, sweetest acidities and essential underlying structure. Both gorgeous and built to last. Extreme modernity too. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted blind at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Barolo Riserva DOCG 2007 and Barolo DOCG 2009

Marchesi Di Barolo Barolo Riserva DOCG 2007, Barolo

Nearly 16 years of age, not exactly a cool or middle of the road vintage and so great showing here from Marchese di Barolo. Impeccably orchestrated nebbiolo in fact with no cru mention but the level of freshness is impressive. Hard to believe in a way, but hey if anyone could have been capable it would be the Marchesi via the famiglia Abbona. Dark raspberry and cherry with sweet reduced balsamic and great persistence. Everything at the right pace in its right place. “Pace!” Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Casa E. Mirafiore Barolo Riserva DOCG 2007, Più Communi

Age is very apparent, tartufo and balsamic well engaged and freshness a thing of the past. The aspect of this Barolo Riserva 2007 that keeps the pace is acidity and a liquid chalkiness of the tannin, even a bit grainy still. Will gain complexity and interest with another few years as those last two aspects soften, but fruit will always be a thing of the past. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Brezza Giacomo E Figli Dal 1885 Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2009, Barolo

A most unique aromatic emission from Brezza’s 2009 Barolo which is truly indicative of traditional winemaking in an era old enough to be considered historical. Very nutty aromas now, roasted chestnut and toasted hazelnut, still chalky and acids working the wine. A faint linger or at least a reminiscence of fresh fruit but mostly kernel and earth at this point. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Casa E. Di Mirafiore Barolo DOCG Paiagallo 2009, Barolo

Quite typical for 13-14 year old Barolo with secondary drifting into tertiary aromas of nuts, earth and spiced vegetals. The mouthfeel here is exceptional and the wood has done well to create this feeling. Some emotion in this wine. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2009, Barolo

Giacomo Fenochio’s Cannubi is something completely different as it is compared to the other ‘09s and shares a moment or two with its own style looking forward 10 years to the Anteprima 2019. The fruits are all there; cherry, plum and orange, macerating in their combined juices and so to be such a fruity wine at this age is something special. Spice and balsamic as well but no real secondary push. Lots of wood though with chocolate all over the finish. For the style this has been done really well. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Marchesi Di Barolo Barolo DOCG Sarmassa 2009, Barolo

Sarmassa remains in very good shape from the 2009 vintage though the warmth has advanced the fruit even beyond that of the 2007 Riserva, all from non specified Barolo commune vineyards. The tartufo has begun too take hold of the aromas, along with wood derived accents like soy and older tar. Smooth as silk to no real surprise and a nebbiolo to drink with braised beef cheek or classic tajarin. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Virna Di Borgogno Barolo DOCG Cannubi 2009, Barolo

And now for something completely different. Barolo DOCG 2009 by Virna di Borgogno is the nebbiolo of highest tonality, of volatility that persists without fully taking over the wine. The tannins are also amazingly persistent all the while there just really isn’t much fruit left in the mix. So much curiosity here. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cavallotto Barolo DOCG Bricco Boschis 2009, Barolo

Bricco Boschis by Cavollotto is a wild thing, a savage of nebbiolo that no other 2009 can touch. By far the most complex Barolo of this retrospective tasting and while it may seem even a bit peppery and woolly there is so much going on you simply do not know where to begin. I would wager that this Barolo is less than halfway into its tenure and the best is yet to come. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Aurelio Settimo Barolo DOCG 2009, La Morra

Fine, mildly funky and surely earthy older Barolo here from Aurelio Settimo of the most traditional and abiding kind. All the expectations are met and aromas extended. From balsamic to soy, toasted nuts to caramelized orange. Very complex, very classy stuff. Plenty of life yet to live. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Gagliasso Mario Barolo DOCG Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2009, La Morra

Quite evolved, creamy and a seriously oaky 2009 Barolo. Sweetness in a way like no other. Drink 2023.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Conca 2009, La Morra

Plum fleshed and spiced, tart and sweet as well, a hallmark of 2009 and when nebbiolo was made this way. Lots of wood and yet that fruit persistence melds well with how much time was spent inside, but also in the kind of barrels used. Showing beautifully and drinking equally so. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Cascina Chicco Barolo DOCG Castelletto 2009, Monforte d’Alba

All chocolate and in so many respects a wine of wood and not much else. At this stage the 2009 Barolo from Cascina Chicco out of Monforte d’Alba’s Castelletto is out of fruit and nearly out of time. Drinks like old wines bathed in barrel will, beautiful for family and friends. Drink 2023-2024.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Famiglia Anselma Barolo DOCG Le Coste Di Monforte 2009, Monforte d’Alba

Still a touch off reduction which is always quite amazing considering how many years gone by should have left this aspect behind. Toasted nuts and smoked meat define the tone in a nebbiolo from Monforte d’Alba that carries its Le Coste cru as a reminder of speciality until today. Famiglia Anselma’s 2009 is showing with haute distinction and kudos to the deft touch. This is an older Barolo in great shape. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Paolo Manzone Barolo DOCG Meriame 2009, Serralunga d’Alba

Meriame by Paolo Manzone still exhibits some red cherry and plum fruit so that is a great positive for a 13-14 year-old Barolo. The persistence in balance and relationship between fruit and acidity is commendable with help by tannins that have all but finished their yeoman work. Finishes with just a few grains but for the most part this wine sings as it was meant to do. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Sordo Giovanni Barolo DOCG Gabutti 2009, Serralunga D’alba

Sordo Giovanni’s 2009 from Gabutti cru has hit the soft caramel and toffee stage with nary a moment of fruit lingering in the nether. Nuts and spice are there along with pretty persistent tannins, no doubt as a by-product of this hard, rocky and antediluvian terroir on the angular side of Barolo. Still needs years though as mentioned there won’t be fruit around when the time comes to that fruition. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Fratelli Alessandria Barolo DOCG Monvigliero 2009, Verduno

Behold the excellence and power of Monvigliero to plod across nearly a decade and a half of time and emerge with vital energy and fruit, untamed and unscathed. This is terrific nebbiolo from Fratelli Alessandria and it’s in a really terrific place. Great showing! Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, January 2023

Library vintages

Cavalier Bartolomeo Barolo DOCG Altenasso 2018

A mix of Castiglione Falletto soils in clay, tufo and calcari prepare this Altenasso for its 24 month stay in grandi botti. A big and broad shouldered nebbiolo, quite glycerin of consistency and well adapted in the face of chaos, challenge and finally the heat of the vintage. Wasn’t simple or easy and the complexities here are a reflection of the stress but the final equation sees a Barolo both clean and pure. Five spice powder makes for some exotica and the tannic texture echoes that dusty and fluffy tufo feeling. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted January 2023

Burzi Alberto Barolo DOCG 2018, La Morra

In 2018 Alberto Burzi decided not to bottle any single vineyard nebbiolo and so all that important fruit has been committed to the classico. All from La Morra vineyards, some vines 85 years of age and other in the 35-40 range. Saw 35 days of cappello sommerso maceration, a technique normally reserved for Capalot, Roncaglie and La Serra. Alberto’s is truly stylish Barolo because he made the right decisions. This ’18 is rich yet elastic and proportionally in balance. Consider it a super cru example of La Morra. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted January 2023

E. Pira & Figli Barolo DOCG Via Nuova 2018

Via Nuova is a blend of three communes fruit: Serralunga, Monforte and Barolo, the latter of which is the home cantina for Chiara and Giorgio Boschis. Winemaking is the same as the Langhe nebbiolo though the Barolo spends two years in 50-50 cask and barriques. From a really warm season and so “2018 is for drinking immediately,” says Giorgio, though that would not likely have been the case six months to a year ago. Has now moved ahead with expedience and prowess, sitting in that proverbial state of elegance and grace. This despite the race to ripeness, inclusive of tannins so sweet, sound and worthy. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted January 2023

Alberto Cordero

Cordero Di Montezemolo Barolo DOCG Bricco Gattera 2018, La Morra

Alberto Cordero explains how a particular clone provides the smallest of berries raised on the Gattera hill at the centre of his Cordero Di Montezemolo estate. “A really challenging vintage,” remembers Cordero, “rainy in April and May, impossible to walk in the vineyards, very unstable. In June, so much mildew. Then good, dry and hot for the rest of the season. In the end it was stability and balance that exerted the all important influence on richness and juiciness. Clear, equanimous Barolo, of fruit and grip connected by glycerin and sweetness. Not overtly tannic and is already beginning to resolve. From an early 2023 vantage point this nebbiolo is precisely classic. Surely a success created by the work put in, especially in the vineyard back in the early part of the season. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted January 2023

With Riccardo Bera

Bera Barolo DOCG Mosconi 2017, Monforte d’Alba

From this vintage the fruit is not 100 per cent Bera and just shortly thereafter the Bera family purchased a portion of the famous Monforte cru. This is the first and only trial vintage before the purchase but the focus was on acquiring a piece. Straight away the dry and brushy vintage while some red fruit freshness persists. Some austerity yet starting, to advance, mature and soften. The reconciliation and full recovery may be a year or two away but this nebbiolo is showing the signs. Quality precursor to what is coming form the new plantation and Bera’s full control of their own Mosconi Barolo destiny. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted January 2023

Cavalier Bartolomeo Barolo DOCG Fiasco 2016, Castiglione Falletto

Only 700 bottles were produced of this first and still only example of Cavalier Bartolomeo’s Riserva called Fiasco. The word can of course mean the same in English but could also refer to a flagon, carafe or as many remember, the straw wrapped bottles of Chianti. Would think the reference here is more about tension and classic nebbiolo structure out of a vintage overflowing with such features. Only the newest, freshest and toastiest barrels were used yet there is an impressive integration of parts. The mention of Fiasco is fantasy but the fruit source is the same Altennaso cru as that “menzione” Barolo. High calcareous soils lend a lightning streak and strike to this very wooded nebbiolo with great distractive ability. Quality is apposite to quantity in a Barolo of truly singular nature. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted January 2023

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2016, Più Communi

A blend of five villages (50 percent Serralunga with Monforte d’Alba, La Morra, Grinzane and Novello) and seven total vineyards. “Please do not call this fucking normale,” pleads Cesare Benvenuto and he’s not joking. There is in fact nothing regular or ubiquitous about this serious and trenchantly purposed cuvée. No pedantic character but instead a going concern of Barolo places. Only 7,000 bottles are made so do the math and understand the problem. Poignancy and nebbiolo so pretty. “For me, from my heart and taste,” says Benvenuto, “in my point of view this is the way to make true Barolo.” Hard to argue when the years have aided and abetted, brought this 2016 to a place where you can feel what makes this vision a reality. Good to go and almost surely for another 10 years in much the same way. Remove the emotion and accept the science. Drink 2025-2032.  Last tasted January 2023

A blend of communes for true estate blending business. Rich and developed dark fruit that goes for broke right from the word go. Also major tannins of mean business and some final bitters. No turning back from this one. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted January 2020

Agricola Marrone Barolo DOCG Bussia 2016

Three years later and Bussia is still a baby. There may be some signs of advancement but they are whispers and so it remains status quo for this most statuesque Barolo. So fresh, so stable.  Last tasted January 2023

Welcome to Bussia. This is the prudent one, far from promiscuous and very promising. Hides everything and is not so fast to give anything away. The textural components are all together; chew, crunch, soft and crackling. Grooves slowly and changes tempo. Not sure which way it will go but its subtlety and its impression will not be denied. From Monforte d’Alba. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted January 2020

Agricola Marrone Barolo DOCG Pichemej 2009

A cuvée of two vineyards, Bussia and Santa Maria, from Monforte d’Alba and Barolo. The word means “more than better” in local Piedmontese dialect and for the Marrone sisters Pichmej is their grandfather Carlo’s Barolo. Spends 30 months in grandi botti to emerge silky and smooth, especially with conditioning having brought this nebbiolo into what is now a fully mature stage. Has entered the drying moments of its fruit years and overall the evolution of tenure is pretty much complete. A lovely position to be in. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted January 2023

G. D. Vajra Albe Barolo DOCG 2008

A vintage that was picked late and to this day wells with freshness and tension. So intact, tactful and nosing of tar, candied rose petal and liquorice. Frozen in a perfect moment of time, just musky enough to think about roasted meats and also caramelizing vegetables. A thank you to Isidoro Vaira for bringing out this older Barolo that clearly shows challenging it is to assess wines like these when they are so young.  Last tasted January 2023.

“Lovely smelling red though at first blind I’m not sure I’d place a heavy bet on it turning up same suit Nebbiolo. Wait, something Piemontese this way comes on the flop; dried roses, nearing potpurri, though covered in a grainy melt of chocolate and wood. A river of tannin and mouth cleansing acidity rounds out the flush. At $40 it’s a good red, if not a fine Barolo.  Tasted February 2014

Good to go!


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Nineteen mind-blowing wines of 2019


Tout vient à son heure pour qui sait attendre, wrote Clément Marot, Renaissance poet. Everything comes at its appointed time. From Cahors to Turin. War, peace, hate, love, fruit, acid and tannin. Wine is all about the pauses and the balances. At its core the value is in that feeling of things being natural and equal. That’s the way it should be. When you drink you enjoy what you have, without competition. One sensation after another. You feel like you have more, even if you have less. Like consomée with just a chop of vegetables.

Welcome to Godello’s annual list of the most conspicuous, head-turning and psychotropic moments, better known as his 19 mind-blowing wines of 2019. Godello first initiated the concept for a year-end culminating evaluation in 2012 though did not actually coin the phrase until publishing his 14 mind-blowing wines of 2014. Call it the sixth or the eighth but who really cares because the wines are the crux and the heart of the matter.

Related – Eighteen mind-blowing wines of 2018

Related – Seventeen mind-blowing wines of 2017

Hard to know how many wines he actually tasted in 2019 but the best guesstimate would be 2,500 because that is how many reviews have been posted to WineAlign in this calendar year. A couple hundred were for wines tasted in 2018 but the editing and posting of at least that many for wines tasted in 2019 have yet to become permanent. So the number is pretty close, one way or another.

There were at least a few dozen stellar and jaw-dropping wines that should of, could of, would of made this list. For every one chosen another was left behind for no reason other than necessity and its relationship to the mother of invention. These images exhibited are but a few that had every reason to be one of 19’s 19.

Related – 16 mind-blowing wines of 2016

With thanks to everyone who poured a glass. The producers, winemakers, export managers, friends, colleagues and pirates, please be encouraged and read on. Godello’s 19 mind-blowing wines of 2019.

AB Wines Opçāo Avesso “A” Vinho Verde 2016, Portugal

From winemaker/oenologist António Sousa’s personal label (with partner Bernardo) and a vineyard planted in 2003, in Amarante. These are avesso grapes just a few years away from what António considers the optimum age, when they reach 18 years, 10 years older than the age from which they begin to deliver excellence. This A is in position A, from a perfect vantage point out of a very good vintage. This is the role model and exemplar for avesso, from a project that began in 2016, with all the adjunct components in line; lemon, lime, orange, ripe acidity, juicy nature and just a minor creamy, fleshy and boozy happiness. Great balance. Drink 2019-2025.  Tasted October 2019

Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Tocai Friulano Collio DOC 1997, Friuli, Italy

So remarkable, from the old messaging in the riesling/tocai bottle, stricken from the consorzio record. This is now a wine bottled in Bordeaux style but this look back 20-plus years shows freshness, spirit and only the beginnings of secondary character. Gassy and lemon intense, a near-perfect example of what was and could be, of how aged whites of Collio can keep freshness and the saltiness of place. All thjis and without crazy acidity. That is the conundrum and the magic of Collio. The persistence is romanticism incarnate with fruit oozing out of pores in great remain. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted May 2019

Goisot Gulhem Et Jean Hugues Gondonne 2017, Bourgogne Côtes D’auxerre AOC, Bourgogne, France

A soil of kimmeridgian and marl, of white and blue, with great layering of fruit and that is in fact what you feel from Gondonne. There is something rich and overtly expressive here and while it’s anything but simple it could be imagined that so many consumers would understand this chardonnay, love it and want to drink it with abandon. That said the structure, goût de terroir and joie de vivre are just exceptional. The wood and the land just melt right in. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted November 2019

Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2007, WO Stellenbosch, South Africa

These Helderberg vines would have been 33 years of age at the time and to think the wine would have cost $10 or so. Now 12 years later we’re graced with this hyperbole of toast, smoulder, lit paraffin and the edge of saffron honey. It’s hard to believe and this the from the tier-two, non-selected grapes at the back of the line behind a Forrester wine like the FMC. Nothing less than incredible. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted October 2019

Ornellaia Bianco 2016, IGT Toscana Bianco, Tuscany, Italy

The Bianco was first introduced in 2013, following fast forward to the original 1980s and 1990s work with Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia. That project had been abandoned because says Axel Heinz “stylistically it just wasn’t right.” That wine was mainly sauvignon blanc on one of Ornellaia’s great vineyard sites. What was wanted was something more than a varietal wine and a new age of finding vineyard sites that were more than merely good for white wine. That means making use of northern slopes and those blocks favourable to whites, including the use of (indigenous) vermentino and viognier. The practice had already been proven with success by colleagues. Bianco is the alter ego to the Rosso, priced as such “and reflects the spirit of Ornellaia, but it had to build itself up to that premium level. We intend to make one of the great white wines of the world,” explains Heinz. That may sound like bragging swagger but the reality is that experience, acumen and especially confidence breed the truth. I Bianci are aged for 12-15 months in (30 per cent new) barriques before bottling. I do dare you to find a wine that smells anything like this Bianco. They are flowers unnamed or perhaps not yet discovered. The flinty reductiveness is also truly and wholly unique. Though the way sauvignon is raised and the place are surely not the same, the Bordeaux styling and sensibility of affinities are more than uncanny and even served by purpose. The vintage brings great maturity, fruitiness and salinity. Fruit presence under the spell of fleur de sel. Nothing but a brilliant combination. Says Heinz without equivocation, “it’s a benchmark for us, ’16 that is.” Drink 2020-2031.  Tasted March 2019

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru 2017, AOC Bourgogne, France

The couverture is all encompassing acting as a full sheathing tapestry in surround of a fruit core of sheer concentration and yet as a whole so understated. It’s hard to imagine more coaxing and less pronouncement. Relatively speaking there’s no estate equal to what has happened here. Great mineral crash into life and love, into fruit and impossible acidity. A magnificent chardonnay with 25 years of life ahead. Drink 2021-2039.  Tasted September 2019

Adelsheim Pinot Noir Boulder Bluff 2015, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon

From a steep, southwest facing site and picked really early, especially in the warm 2015 vintage. Again the confluence of vineyard conflagration of more than one soil type leads to an estate stylistic but let’s face it one that is bent into shape by focus and precision. There is great generosity and freshness, again in spite of or despite the hot vintage. More floral from this bluff and bigger, albeit finer quality signature tannin from this neighbourhood, with more thanks to basaltic blocks. Long ageing surely ahead with fruit turning to bramble, at times. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted April 2019

Tenute Bosco Etna Rosso DOC Vigna Vico Pre Phylloxera 2015, Sicily, Italy

The litheness of this nerello mascalese from Mount Etna off of 100-plus years of age pre-phylloxera vines cannot be over-stated or overstressed. The light, ethereal beauty of this wine may very well transport you to a place, to a vacuum within a bubble that is a hidden world inside a biodome. Few words are available when a wine speaks to you such as this Vico does to me at this time. This impossibility of such fruit concentration is also implausibly understated, as are the tannins and the acidity, yet all align and intertwine along a perfectly rendered line. You recognize the automatic brilliance, for the people and from the place. You just know it when you taste it. If you can find this wine, if you ever get the chance to purchase a bottle or two, you owe it to yourself to act, for you and for anyone you might happen to share it with. Drink 2019-2035.  Tasted May 2019

Donnafugata Mille E Una Notte 1996, DOC Contessa Entellina, Sicily, Italy

An arch classic from Sicilia sud Occidentale and more specifically Tenuta Contessa Entellina. Of the oldest wines this is one of the highest tonality, not unlike older and older schooled nebbiolo from Barbaresco, in a queen’s throne sort of way. There is siply no way to argue that this wine did not deserve to be aged this way and to be waited on for such a moment of appreciation. Age worthy and load management indeed, with every resolution hoped for and expected. Brilliance and a benchmark, with a half decade of life still ahead. Drink 2019-2026.  Tasted May 2019

Scarpa Barbera d’Asti DOC La Bogliona 1996, Piedmont, Italy

At 23 years you just have to launch yourself headfirst into the blood orange. That this piece of barbera wow factor happened before the year 2000 is the thing, especially because climate was very different. Rain fell often and slowly through the year, as opposed to the deluges of globally disaster-orchestrated today. Higher acidity simply speaking and this of the great lean, salty and direct-fitted pieces of barbera composure. Still fresh with dried fruits and low alcohol (at 13.0 per cent declared) but who knows which way the marketing directed labelling in those days? More than a lovely look back. Educational, instructional, cerebral and mind-bending from the lesser appreciated Piedmontese sector. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted December 2019

Maison Roche De Bellene Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2012, AOC Bourgogne, France

Do not adjust your set. The vintage brought everything to the table and while the foreground presents a picture crystalline and transparent the entirety of the frame is frozen clear. As for the aromatics this teases a meaty cure like few other and teases as if by the ambience of a cave, restricted of access, hiding what lurks, hangs and excites. Crunchy to say the least, layered to say more and complex to speak the ultimate truth. Magnifique and still twenty years away from the beginning of the end. Drink 2022-2037.  Tasted September 2019

Domaine De La Pousse D’or Pommard Premier Cru Les Jarollières 1964, Appellation Pommard Controlée, Bourgogne, France

Calling this 55 year-old Bourgogne Premier Cru a piece of history is not enough to do justice because family, lineage and the passing of the generational torch beyond domaine lines are everything that matters. Nicolas Potel pulled this one out of thin air and not merely by a human ability to disappear and reappear. No, Nico chose the way of disapparating and then apparating (in the wizard sense of “apparition,” a magical form of teleportation). His father Gérard’s ’64 was in his hands and a great big, merde-eating grin was posted all across his face. Les Jarollières is a 1.44 ha plot of marl and calcaire and even today half of the plantings are those that were fitted in 1925 and 1962. It was Gérard Potel who resurrected Domaine de la Pousse d’Or to its glory and in 1964 he acquired the domaine through a marriage to the then owner’s niece. Along with Henri Boillot this cru has been famous being meaty, earthy and owning an ability for supernatural integration. This 1964 had taken all that, everything and more, left nothing in the vineyard and had now become the epitome of the ethereal. The fruit was fully intact, so bloody strawberry, still with lightning quick reflexes and able to pour fresh glasses of spirit and energy over the course of a full hour. The experience was a once in a lifetime type, a shared moment and the kind to create a banked memory that will always be generous when a good one is needed. Thank you Nico. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted December 2019


I Fabbri Chianti Classico DOCG 2000, Tuscany, Italy

At the time it was labeled as an (Annata) Chianti Classico though it was really Riserva. Yes it has evolved but 18-plus years should have moved it much further along. Carries a spice like the exoticism in resemblance to 2006 but this is something other. Still some very fine, present and notable acidity. Amazing purity, honesty, luck, circumstance, place and gentile personality. The sapidity is there again and the age ability nothing short of remarkable. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted February 2019

Volpaia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG Il Puro 2015, Tuscany, Italy ($150.00)

Il Puro takes her purity to another level in 2015 with fruit so silky fine and chalky tannins integrated into liquid even finer than that fine. The accumulation is just impressive and the charm meeting grace even more so than that. The Mascheroni-Stianti family has really found a stride in this GS to explain why it exists and how it can make many people happy. The structure here will take this through two or three decades of unfolding. There is a house record to prove it, ironically regardless and in spite of the bottle’s name. This is sangiovese. Drink 2023-2037.  Tasted February 2019

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2010, Tuscany, Italy

“A muscle vintage, of huge character,” tells Lorenzo Magnelli. The name of the wine is Diecianni to tell us that Lorenzo’s Riserva is not released until the 10th year. Brings about all the complexities that come from such an extended elévage. Tobacco, savour, forest floor, frutta di bosco and frutto secco but don’t be succumbing to depths and sottosuolo because the freshness persists. A wine so wise beyond its years, like its maker. Sure you can release a Riserva one year after Annata but when it has been protected and taken care of for you then it presents as it was intended to. We are thankful for the triage and the investment on our behalf. The fruit persists with great natural sweetness out of 2010. Drink 2019-2035.  Tasted October 2019

Conti Costanti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Colle Al Matrichese 2015, Tuscany, Italy

Andrea Costanti is convinced this is a great vintage. “One of the best.” The weather was perfect following a beneficial cold winter. The harvest was early but not compromisingly so and it saw no hurdles, obstacles or intendments. The barrel use is bigger, older and wiser. This is the sort of concentrated Costanti that speaks to the 2019 philosophy, of acidity, ripeness and balance. Time on skins was about a month (including two weeks of fermentation and oxidation introducing délestage) and no protective sulphur. There is a control in this sangiovese, a powerful restraint but more than that, more so a calm, but not before storm. Finesse, grip and beauty, like a statue of a stag, in a courtyard, lit by moonlight. Tannins are all pervasive, fully stated, yet to feel a necessity for attack. They will and we will retreat, Then we will advance, with caution, further to find full pleasure for two decades. At the very minimum. Drink 2023-2039.  Tasted February 2019

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Vecchia 2015, Tuscany, Italy ($177.00)

Planted in 1968 and from a warm vintage all the way to the end, into October. Riccardo Campinoti is smiling wryly, knowingly and confidently after he pours and begins to speak of it. “The longer you waited the riper it became” and the healthy grapes allowed for hanging to mid-October. Deeper and of more sponge-soaked earth in the old vines with a higher tone juxtaposed against the depth drawn by long vine roots. The aromatic complexities run, jump and ride off the proverbial charts and you may find yourself drunk and mystified just from the smells. Once you gain palate entry you are hooked and then you climb in, headfirst, unencumbered, no strings attached. A tour de force beloved of sangiovese, Montalcino and old vines. Vigna Vecchia is the epitome of a true structured wine, one which does not grow old, despite the passage of time. Drink 2023-2039.  Tasted October 2019

Antiche Cantine Dei Marchesi Di Barolo 1990, Barolo Riserva, Piemonte, Italy

A grande dame or marchesa in the parlance of these woods, a nebbiolo of persistence, resilience and strength of character. Initiates contact with the past and a contract with tradition by way of the things that matter most. Family for one, roots dug into the earth second and the vineyard’s tongue, if it were able to speak. The overall gist in the parlance is heard and even understood although the dialect is hard to decipher if you are not of this place. This 1990 is found to be of high though level tempered energy and then with an ear, a nose and a soul so close to the earth. Smells like the soils amalgamated, preserved and demonstrated through the tempered liquor of a wise old 29 year-old nebbiolo. So much more than a piece of the past, this is an auguri gathering of storytelling, kin, culture and DNA. You must pay thanks for a chance to taste a thing such as this. Drink 2019-2033.  Tasted December 2019

Gaja Sorì Tildìn 2016, Barbaresco DOP, Piemonte, Italy ($810.00)

Angelo Gaja sees 2016 as a perfect vintage in Barbaresco and the one from which climate change is viewed with great irony in the wink-wink guise of parenthetical thanks. That means the cosmic and astronomical alignment makes for wines that are both pleasant in their youth and also impossibly structured to age. Named for the sunny position of the slope and Mr. Gaja’s grandmother Clotilde. Now the clay and the calcaire have conspired, along with the purchased land of which Clotilde was custodian and in how she pushed her husband to make great wine. The vines are now on average 50 years-old and the composition meeting aspect bring a depth of complexity as poignant as it gets in this tiny part of nebbiolo production. All the flowers, rocks and elements are contained within the interior walls of this gently forceful Langhe red. It mimics the matriarch by the strongest power of suggestion and will not take no for an answer. Perhaps never will. Drink 2025-2045.  Tasted December 2019

Good to go!



Twitter: @mgodello

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15 Mind blowing wines of 2015

Old Sherry at the Cariñena Museo del Vino

Old Sherry at the Cariñena Museo del Vino

“You can choose your philosophy of critiquing just as you choose how to live. The freedom to personalize or substantiate thoughts on structure sacrifices the detail to meaning and meaning to preciseness.” I wrote that nearly a year ago. It holds true, as before, near, dear and clear to me today.

Extreme cold ushered in January of 2015 and the obvious lede was Coming wine from the cold. Halfway through the month an epiphany of sorts knocked upside the cerebral cortex, elaborated upon in Varietal Spanish wine. That smithy precursor would lead to revelations in October.

As January wound down and I prepared to hit the Niagara Icewine Festival, (revealed in We the Icewine) I first asked a matter of fat cat factual question, Is writing making a mess of wine? “The combined fugitive pieces of wine and its critics pose questions without answers. They must be asked very slowly.”

Related – Mind blowing wines of 2014

The weeks of suffering through frozen days and night breeds reflection and thought. While the temperatures remained cursedly south of 20 I begged the question, Why drink that?, “looking for heroic entablature and architectural wonder in bottles of wine. We see them as DNA and in their liquids we can read their entire future. We sip them again and again until we taste them for the first time. To remember generations.” Have wine forget winter.

Good bye and thank you for your hospitality South Africa @WOSA_ZA @WOSACanada @CapeWine2015

Good bye and thank you for your hospitality South Africa @WOSA_ZA @WOSACanada @CapeWine2015

I penned If it’s value you want, it’s South Africa you need and later in May, Shades of South Africa. Oh sweet, naive, wait until you travel there and see what’s really up, Godello. Same for A new Greek morning and Getting into Greece. One week in the Peloponnese and my psyche would be altered forever.

In March I explained Why it matters to taste wines again, urged sharing through the practice of Take a bottle, leave a bottle and waxed parenthetical in yet another meaningful soul-searching moment. Why hate wine? was waged with a comment on “the wine geek who hates certain wines. The wine aficionado who picks on specific bottles, bullies them to the point of hatred. Slags them beyond reproach. Rants to the world about the injustice of their existence.” Bugger off.

The Old Third, Pinot Noir 2008

The Old Third, Pinot Noir 2008

Then April. “The Ontario wine industry is the best kept secret in the world. It has grown, accelerated and advanced with more success than might have been imagined as recently as five years ago. Ontario winemakers have figured it out. The “world-class” comparative humanities of aging and longevity aside, the comprehensive and widespread phenomenon of excellence, regardless of vintage, is now an Ontario reality.” Now you know the answer to Why taste Ontario?

Related – 15 Canadian wines that rocked in 2015

In May further validation with Searching for Somewhereness and I’m a little bit County, setting the stage for an October visit to proportion enormity across ridges and eskers. Further understanding culled in The Old Third and older County wines and The ridges of Prince Edward County.

Saturday night @barquebbq #smokerschoice and '08 @bodegasmuriel #rioja #spain

Saturday night @barquebbq #smokerschoice and ’08 @bodegasmuriel #rioja #spain

“Wine is a commensurate animal, altricial such as it is, acaudal, acersous, agnostic, aculeate and allocryptic such as it is not. Wine that is not so much off the beaten path as actually growing on one.” Path straying wines. The game changer happened one day in May at Barque Smokehouse with Chiara De lulis Pepe and The natural wines of Emidio Pepe.

Cool Chardonnay at Ridley College

Cool Chardonnay at Ridley College

The June WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada followed Ontario Wine Awards judging, inclusive of tastings at Niagara College, Creekside Estates, Ravine Vineyard, Trius, Treadwell CuisineDomaine Queylus and The Good Earth Wine Company. A great, learned experience at Master classes of Terroir shed brilliant light on Gamay. Then the most important query of the summer. Can Chardonnay get any cooler? Well, one of two. Great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Nova Scotia? My maritime wine sojourn is summarized in East coast swing 2015: Time, tides and wine.

View of the mountains from Tetramythos, Aigialia, Peloponnese

View of the mountains from Tetramythos, Aigialia, Peloponnese

My great Greek Achaian adventure was told in three tales, Till I reach Achaia groundBring me Achaia love and Gateway to Achaia, from Roditis to Mavrodaphne

South Africa’s memories spilled out in waves, from Once upon a time in the Western Cape to Wines of South Africa: It’s the fling itself, through South African duck dynasty and Wines of South Africa: Go Cars Go.

The Empire of Garnacha

The Empire of Garnacha

October and November trips to Aragaon, Catalonia and Franciacorta opened eyes and expanded minds like never before. We’ve Garnacha covered part one: Campo De Borja was followed by CariñenaSomontanoTerra Alta and Calatayud.

With Pablo Alvarez (#vegasicilia) and Laurent Drouhin (#josephdrouhin) at #fourseasonstoronto for #primumfamiliaevini Can there be a more visceral wine experience than tasting some of the world's greatest wine estates and all the while their principals just seem to only talk about history and family? Makes me think about parents, grandparents and children. About accomplishments, passing torches and smelling roses. Or something like that.

With Pablo Alvarez (#vegasicilia) and Laurent Drouhin (#josephdrouhin) at #fourseasonstoronto for #primumfamiliaevini…Can there be a more visceral wine experience than tasting some of the world’s greatest wine estates and all the while their principals just seem to only talk about history and family? Makes me think about parents, grandparents and children. About accomplishments, passing torches and smelling roses. Or something like that.

Far out, man

Far out, man

Here are some mind blowing wines tasted in 2015.

Tetramythos Roditis 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

To taste again @lafouceller in @doterraalta is today's master plan @VINOS_ICEX #lovegarnacha #garnatxablanca #crdoterraalta

To taste again @lafouceller in @doterraalta is today’s master plan @VINOS_ICEX #lovegarnacha #garnatxablanca #crdoterraalta

Lafou Celler Garnatxa Blanca 2014, DO Terra Alta, Spain (WineryAgentWineAlign)

Ramon Roqueta Segalés, winemaker, soothsayer, visionary, seeker of the Garnatxa Blanca of today from “a narrow valley.” Ramon is very concerned with the valleys, the landscape, the geology, how the wind, the mediterranean climate and the ancient rivers that run through, having left their glacial deposits, all combine for this particular and most important expression of Garnatxa Blanca. Established in 2007, this wine was first released in 2011. Combines old and young fruit, some harvested fresher at a greener stage and others picked later, riper, brought together. Vinified separately, with some skin maceration, looking for fat to surround acidity. Ripe fruit (10 per cent) sees oak, the rest in egg shape concrete tanks with six to seven months of lees contact. Smells like a ripe peach, fresh and without sugar but instead a sprinkling of subterranean, ancient riverbed harvested salt. The tang is layered, variegated, mineral, mastered over and in corralling of oxidation, elaborated with gentle but forceful demand. “We learned that you can get a balance by harvesting and an early and a later stage, sometimes three times.” Finishes with lime, fresh squeezed, sweet tonic and distilled flowers. A wine that has succeeded in “mastering the oxidation process.” Plus the tannic (anti-oxidative) aspects offered in micro-oxygenation from the slightly toasted new oak. Approximate price $28.95 CAN. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted October 2015  @lafouceller  @oenophilia1

Maps & Legends, from Cartology to Flotsam & Jetsam @ChrisAlheit @ZooBiscuitsWine #alheitvineyards #hermanus #capewine2015

Maps & Legends, from Cartology to Flotsam & Jetsam @ChrisAlheit @ZooBiscuitsWine #alheitvineyards #hermanus #capewine2015

Alheit Vineyards Flotsam & Jetsam Days of Yore 2014 (Winery)

Chris Alheit’s brand might allude to a chapter in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers but Days of Yore must pay some homage to the 80’s thrash metal band and with great irony. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault blend is no Doomsday for the Receiver and certainly No Place for Disgrace. What it is instead is pure liquid brilliance. Old 1960 Cabernet Sauvignon bush vines are (even if unintentionally) farmed the way they used to be, back in the days of yore. Now cropped, tended and produced in pitch perfect cure, the resulting wine (when Cabernet is blended with Albeit’s dry-farmed, stomped and tonic-singular Cinsault) shows smoky depth and musicality. Sour-edged or tart can’t begin to describe the tang. It’s something other, unnameable, sapid, fluid and beautiful. It brings South Africa from out of the heart of its wayfinding darkness. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted September 2015  @ChrisAlheit  @ZooBiscuitsWine

"If you can see the differences of terroir in Gewürz, then you won’t see it in Riesling" @AlsaceWines #olivierhumbrecht

“If you can see the differences of terroir in Gewürz, then you won’t see it in Riesling” @AlsaceWines #olivierhumbrecht

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 2011, Ac Alsace, France (Agent, $64.00, WineAlign)

This is the most northerly Zind-Humbrecht vineyard, in Hunawihr. Like oil and water from this to 2012. So much more richness, unctuousness, classic western European riverbank gluck and heavy weighted metal. Layers upon layers of texture though not nearly as dramatically sweet as it might appear to be. Hides it so well, thanks to those remarkable Windsbuhl gifting phenols and intense grape tannin. This has presence so very rare in Gewürztraminer. In the end its a glass full of liquid gems, polished, elegant and refined. Allow the sugars several more years to fully realize its potential relationship with the acidity. Drink 2018-2033.  Tasted November 2015  @olivier_dzh  @TrialtoON  @AlsaceWines  @VinsAlsace  @drinkAlsace

Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile (403980, $70.00, WineAlign)

The 2010 Don Melchor harkens backwards, to years like 2001 and 2003, rephrasing and rewriting the paradigmatic book. From seven contiguous, sub-divided blocks of Cabernet, the ’10 speaks most highly of Lot Two, emphasized by chocolate, menthol and mineral, in cohorts with Lot Four, in elegance and depth. Extended glom and time-lapse picking between April 22 and May 27 was the casualty turned blessing of a cooler growing season in the semi-arid Mediterranean-like scrub desert of Puente Alto. The alluvial motion hauteur of slow-ripened fruit can’t be overestimated. The frame by frame capture has resulted in aromatics wafting off the charts; violet, anise, roasting cocoa bean, garrigue, ferric filings, mortar on wet stone, Cassis and eucalyptus. There is no heat, rendering the 14.6 declared alcoholic irrelevant. Best of all, it smells like Chile as much as it does Cabernet. There is no need to discuss the (97 per cent) CS in terms of Bordeaux, that is until you taste. Then the tobacco angst and silky texture elicit Margaux. Black currants and fine chocolate melt on the finish, still with a mouthful of stones. For winemaker Enrique Tirado, this may be his “El opus.” It will age effortlessly for 12-15 years. For anyone who purchased this wine more than 10 vintages ago, comparing current cost can be a byproduct in natural preoccupation. Who would not want a return to the sub-$50 Don Melchor going back a decade or more? Yet while tasting the present decimus, $100 crosses the fiscal mind and seems completely apropos. At $70 the clarity and sonority of its value is the blazon of an epistle. Few Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wines from Bordeaux or Napa Valley can compare. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted April 2015  @conchaytoro  @MikeAikins1  @DrinkChile

Mullineux & Leeu Syrah Iron 2013, Wo Swartland, South Africa (WineryAgentWineAlign)

If such cure, grip, ferric grab and intense tannin has ever infiltrated South African Syrah it has not yet found its way over to me. In a side by side comparative tasting with the Schist Syrah this one wrestles to win. The Schist is all perfume and soft elegance. The Iron draws power to strength from strength. It is an unrelenting conduit of energy, from soil clearly designed to outlive humanity. The Syrah is a product of geological wonder and winemaking that steps aside to let the terroir speak its mind. Demanding and filled with tension now, time will soften the stranglehold and loosen the wires. Lots of time. Drink 2019-2028.  Tasted September 2015  @MullineuxWines  @MullineuxChris  @Nicholaspearce_

Fleury Père et Fils Cépages Blancs Extra Brut Champagne 1990, Champagne, France (Winery, Agent, WineAlign)

The expediency of weighted oxidation in flight flies effortlessly as a traveller propelled with verve and intrepid behaviour. Dried tangerine and so many tannic aspects are exaggeratedly exceptional for Champagne, fast forward thrusted and draughted with effortless urge. Derived as if from concrete shaped in purest form, of and before life. The dried fruits and a pith so calming are gathered for a level of citrus almost never before encountered. A very, very special 25 year-old bottle of bubbles from a pioneering organic and biodynamic producer in Courteron. Drink 2015-2020. Tasted February 2015  @ChampagneFleury

Most exciting wines tasted in a long time @winesorarg #carasur #bonarda #criolla #argentina #valledecalingasta

Most exciting wines tasted in a long time @winesorarg #carasur #bonarda #criolla #argentina #valledecalingasta

Cara Sur Bonarda 2014, Barreal, San Juan, Agrentina (Approx. $140)

Dry farmed, mordant and agile varietal red, a garagiste of a dirt road, in minuscule production, from natural run-off water and wild yeast. Only 500-600 bottles are produced, from north of Mendoza, in the Valle de Callingasta and Zuccardi funded. The natural cure is off the charts, the Emidio Pepe of Argentina, in which winemaking is really just perfect. Smells like the scrape of the amphora, already imbued of the aromatics of years, the answers of age, the design of ancients. You could keep this in the glass for a week and it will hardly evolve. Imagined as a 40 year wine for sure. Purity incarnate. Drink 2015-2040.  Tasted August 2015  @winesofarg

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

Jonata La Sangre De Jonata Syrah 2008, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California (220517, $150.00, WineAlign)

A tremendously ripe, rich and layered Syrah that has few equals or rivals in California so in that sense the price is benevolently justified. Winemaker Matt Dees is no flash in the pan. His wines are cerebrated and cogitated with no stone left unturned. They are showy, chiselled wrestlers, boxers and ultimate fighters but they are the real deal. This ’08 is a veritable protein potpourri, of wafts from the finest boucherie, all hung limbs and wrapped sheep’s cheeses, in caves, on counters and under glass. The expression is also very Côte Rôtie meets côte de bœuf rôtie, with added luxe perfume, chalk and lacy grain. The fruit boundaries are endless, the chew meaty, cured and smoky. Ultra Syrah of never wavering red fruit in a packed vessel with alcohol declared at a meagre 14.9 per cent. Even if it is really more like 15.5, the wealth of fruit, acidity, tannin and structure can handle the heat. With so much happening, this wine will age like the prized hind quarters and mother’s milk solids it smells of. Jonata La Sangre De Jonata Syrah 2008 says something and I’d love to hear what that is 15 years down the road. Drink 2018-2028.  Tasted May 2015  @WoodmanWS  @CalifWines_CA

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

As I get on the 707 @penfolds 1999 #cabernetsauvignon carries me far away #treasurywineestates #southaustralia #bookofdreams

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, South Australia, Australia (Agent, $175.00, WineAlign)

The Bin 707 was first produced in 1964 though passed over from 1970 to 1975 and then in 1981, 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2011. With Grange in mind, were it to look in the mirror, it would see its reflection as Cabernet Sauvignon. A true South Australian Claret, multi-regional blend from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe and Wrattonbully. The ’99 was the 28th and as I get on board in 2015 and taste the 707, it carries me so far away. Today, in this world and how we play it, this is as fresh as Cabernet Sauvignon can be. It reads like a book of dreams. It is a miller of fruit, in secondary ester of refinement. It is a jet airliner, leaving behind a voluminous, velutinous trail of exhaust. “I feel like it’s all been done,” but not like this, aged for 18 months in 100 per cent new 300 litre American oak hogsheads. Not with this precision from veraciously selected fruit. Not like this. Look to 2025 for the tertiary period to begin. Drink 2015-2024. Tasted August 2015 @penfolds  #treasurywineestates 

Fino, Don P.X. '86 and '62 w: @sorgatoBTA @toroalbala @LeSommelierWine Magical, impossible, unchanging. Bucket list to revisit in 150 years #pedroximenez #bodegastoroalbala #montillamoriles #spain

Fino, Don P.X. ’86 and ’62 w: @sorgatoBTA @toroalbala @LeSommelierWine Magical, impossible, unchanging. Bucket list to revisit in 150 years #pedroximenez #bodegastoroalbala #montillamoriles #spain

Bodegas Toro Albalá Don P.X. Reserva Especial 1962, Do Montilla Moriles (424085, $205.00, WineAlign)

Unlike the 1986 which under recent European law (because it is not a red wine) must not be named Gran Reserva, this grandfather of a Pedro Ximenez is free to be what it’s supposed to be. A wine that was housed in a home somewhere in the village 10 years before the winery was created. A wine harvested in 1962, then took two months to ferment (to 7 or 8 per  cent alcohol). Estate distillate was added to fortify and raise it to 17 per cent, followed by a slumber for two years in concrete vats. The final resting place was in American wood where it slumbered peacefully for 49 years until it was bottled in 2011. In a show of future forward thinking and in retrospect, of historical allegiance, the signature on the bottle belongs to its original maker. Egresses from such delicate aromas, from citrus to coffee and stands in remarkable freshness belying its 50 years. The nuts are smoked with a zesting by citrus and a dusting in nutmeg. Chestnut and hazelnut curiously form a crasis of sensation, airy and creamy like mousse, sabayon or Caudreau. If you allow it, the finish will not let go. The sugar (300 g/L RS) and acidity (5.73 g/L TA) are the tangible aspects of its futuristic longevity. Like the ’86 this is another dessert wine secured of natural preservatives; undefined, magical, impossible. These wines opened could last for 20 plus years, unchanged. Unopened that number could surpass 100, without question, no problem. Like honey, this is an earthly substance that can last, seemingly forever. So, one glass of P.X. every day, going forward, for self-preservation. Drink 2015-2060. Tasted October 2015  @LeSommelierWine

The line-up from Emidio Pepe

The line-up from Emidio Pepe

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 1983, DOC BIO Abruzzo, Italy (Agent, $279.95, WineAlign)

Give Emidio Pepe’s reds thirty odd years to develop and the impossible happens. To postulate in a moment’s assessment without remembering the pious tradition with which this was made would be a crime against Pepe, Abruzzo, the natural world and the wonders of the universe. With this much passage the spice cupboard that emits is wow times a thousand. Clove, cinnamon, cardamon, orange peel, galangal and like golden raisins that pass through quarries to become rubies. This wine is perfect. It has not broken down an iota. It requires no decanting. It defies logic, perception and time. There is no sediment, only energy. Speaks from the glass as if it were a child of destiny and mythology. The 1983 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva arrives from along the same road taken but its transmogrification proves that the result, with thanks again to the endemic froth, is different every time. Drink 2015-2029.  Tasted March 2015

Gaia Gaja and 1978 Barbaresco #veryproud #nebbiolo @StemWineGroup

Gaia Gaja and 1978 Barbaresco #veryproud #nebbiolo @StemWineGroup

Gaja Barbaresco 1978, Piemonte, Italy (Agent)

Tasted with Gaia Gaja as an added, as good a bonus as there ever was to an already exceptional line-up of Gaja wines, the 1978 Barbaresco is untangled, untwisted and liberated. Nebbiolo spoken with the utmost clarity. Cherries falling from the tree the moment the tips of fingers come within a hair of the touch. Spring is indeed in the air (despite it being early fall), a trick of the Gaja Genesis tale, “fields of incentive covered with green.” A mesmerizing Barbaresco, pure as driven snow, clear as a pool of fallen rain, quiet as an undisturbed slumber. Ancient longings of leather and dusty cocoa are but pipe stuffing, not yet lit. This Nebbiolo is pretty, feminine, beautiful and forcefully elegant. “When you’re asleep they may show you, aerial views of the ground, Freudian slumber empty of sound.” Only available from Nebbioli of the highest caste and order. Drink 2015-2028.  Tasted September 2015

Five little ducks all in a row @BellaVistaVino #anothersongaboutthefizz #franciacorta #largeformats #1987 #1989

Five little ducks all in a row @BellaVistaVino #anothersongaboutthefizz #franciacorta #largeformats #1987 #1989

Bellavista Winery Brut Sparkling 1987, Franciacorta, Italy (From a Six litre bottle, Agent, Winery)

Tasted alongside a 750 mL, Magnum, Jeroboam and nine litre 1989. The Methuselah is the first wine to show similarly to any of the others so the comfort level rises and yet this rocks out flinty and reductive most like the 3L. The energy is consistent, but here the spice is magnified and the nutty sense that showed in the Magnum has come forth. This seems to combine the pique aspects of both the Magnum and the Jeroboam. A best of all worlds bottle plus what it brings that neither had. Absolute freshness. Does not evolve in the glass in its first few minutes like the others that came before. It evens glistens unlike the others, as if it knows how complex, special and alive it is. This is the bomb for sure. Dart straight through the heart. Crazy exceptional Sparkling wine. It should be interesting to try and assess, which is a major act of liberty in assumption, to gauge with accuracy how format affects age. To close one’s eyes tight and place a number on each wine, to where it has evolved and why. Here, Jeroboam still three to five years away from even that beginning. Truly. Drink 2018-2037.  Tasted November 2015  @BellavistaVino  @Noble_Estates

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign: Michael Godel


Twelve stars align

Star shrouded downtown Toronto

Star shrouded downtown Toronto

Only on the rarest of occasions do I consider the Zodiac. Same goes for the constellations though if you slump my tired body into the comfort fitting contours of a Thermarest on a Killarney campsite I’ll happily, dreamily stare up into a near-northern sky. Or on a dock in cottage country if the Aurora Borealis happens to make a magical appearance.

In September I spent some time scanning a South African, southern hemisphere sky with Ken Forrester. Ever the romantic, Ken offered up a short dissertation on one of the special treats afforded a stay in Stellenbosch. I have seen the Southern Cross several times before and yet standing there at 10:30 pm with the South African vigneron-poet, taking in the twinkling balls of time travel, something struck me anew.

I like to line things up. Wine tasting notes with music; a lyric or an artist. You may have noticed. I also find ways to forge bonds, synaesthetic perceptions and Chaldean correlations, regardless of whether they are there for the connecting. Sometimes you just need to fulfill the urge to divide the ecliptic into 12 equal, 30 degree pieces of a pie. Perhaps it’s just the M.O.T. in me.

This coming weekend VINTAGES rolls out the first major release in preparation for the looming holiday addiction. The headlines of “stars of the season,” and “star-studded” can mean only one thing. Expensive and iconic wines will dominate LCBO shelves from now through Christmas. And most of these high ticket items will sell through. Why is that you ask? Mainly because many of them are really good wines. Mostly because desperate people will buy anything when faced with holiday gift-giving deadlines.

My job is to separate the exciting from the boring, the exceptional from the drab. I’ve chosen 12 bottles, each with their own horoscopic identity, wines that illustrate their own idiosyncratic hook-up with a sign of the zodiac. It’s a stretch to be sure but it’s my stretch, so deal with it. If you connect and agree with just one, it may change your perception too.

From left to right: J. Fritsch Riesling 2014, Closson Chase Chardonnay Closson Chase Vineyard 2013, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava, La Chablisienne Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2012, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2011 and Stratus White 2012

From left to right: J. Fritsch Riesling 2014, Closson Chase Chardonnay Closson Chase Vineyard 2013, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava, La Chablisienne Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2012, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2011 and Stratus White 2012

Capricorn (The Goat)

Sure-footed, hard worker, self-disciplined, over-achiever

J. Fritsch Riesling 2014, Ac Alsace, France (430520, $19.95, WineAlign)

Kientzheim Riesling, full, fleshy, opulent but not tropical in style, aromatically fleshy and full of orange rind, lemon zest and tonic. Has that necessary mineral bleed and rock tang. Schlossberg like but not as tannic and certainly ready for prime time at a much younger age. Hints at sweetness but acidity by way of early picked fruit is key. Granite feel. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015  @VinsAlsace  @Alsace_info  @AlsaceWines  @drinkAlsace

Virgo (The Virgin)

Gentle, creative, generous and sympathetic

Closson Chase Chardonnay Closson Chase Vineyard 2013, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario (Winery, $27.95, WineAlign)

This CCV Chardonnay is one of departed winemaker Deborah Paskus’ final acts at Closson Chase. It will forever be noted as a legacy-cementing, swan song of career excellence. Crafted by Paskus and bottled by the next one, current winemaker Keith Tyers, the 2013 CCV is simply a tour de force. No such combination of richness, tropicality and pure grape tannin has ever infiltrated this Chardonnay, from this vineyard. I’m not sure there is a comparison in Ontario, at this level of excellence and at this price. A wine of pure impression, with Montrachet-like structure and Folatières-like precision. Seemingly capacious, its facile legerity is hypnotizing, quantitatively escalating in assembly of aromas, flavours, through texture and finally to longevity. The wine spent 16 months in a mere (17.25 per cent new) oak. That it notes 12.5 per cent alcohol on the label is next to impossible. The substance is just too buttressed to be so tender and effete. Impeccable balance, refinement and mineral finish. This is Chardonnay to confuse the world’s fine white collectors, to wreak havoc at international tastings for five to 10 years. Only 712 cases are available and at $27.95, is down $2 in price from the 2012. Best ever, hands down. Drink 2017-2023.  Tasted March 2015  @ClossonChase

Cancer (The Crab)

Sideways, subtle, sensitive and protective

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava, Méthode Traditionnelle, Do, Spain (558825, $29.95, WineAlign)

An intricate and elaborate Reserva elevation of Cava, even a bit skunky in the most endearing of ways, like a 55 day dry-aged steak cooked rare. A waft of yet blown sulphur is managed and tempered by smartly sweet yeast. At once clunky and disjointed, then heavy in citrus and the shells of molluscs. Citrus climbs all over the finish, from lime to lemon and into pomello. Complex Cava with the taste of acquired affection in requiem of a very open mind. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted October 2015  @hseguraviudas  @imbibersreport  @cavaswine

Aquarius (The Water Carrier)

Friendly, generous, thoughtful and humanitarian

La Chablisienne Montmains Chablis 1er Cru 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (265090, $32.95, WineAlign)

In a word, yes. Beautiful girl this Montmains, layered of delicate aromas, from flowers through kimmeridgian soil and into fresh forest glade. A child of the cooler, Butteaux sub-climat in which the citrus melds into the soft wooden (228L barriques) notes and all is elevated by such pinpoint-posted acidity. The oak lends cream, the lees fine spun silky texture and the talc a grape tannic ingrained sense of fullness. Terrific wine. Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted October 2015  @VinexxCanada  @chablisienne  @BourgogneWines  @BIVBChablis

Aries (The Ram)

Energy, life, vitality and courage

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2011, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (505610, $38.20, WineAlign)

There is so much floral presence in 2011, a showy perfume that parades the relative elegance of Niagara’s Bordeaux reds in the vintage. Structure is comparable to 2010, not in beast mode but rather with a delicacy derived from less burning, high-toned fruit. Still here lays a wine so young, of social encumbrance that might be passed off as a mark of impertinence. This faintly embarrassing condition can be suppressed in a dark cellar, in which the foundation can be laid for the beginning of a cure. The Terroir Caché 2011 will show its best between 2017 and 2020, then develop, slow down, suspend animation and age further, effortlessly and exceptionally. Drink 2017-2024.  Tasted April 2015  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron  @LeSommelierWine

Taurus (The Bull)

Plodding, peaceful and deliberate

Stratus White 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (660704, $44.20, WineAlign)

In magnified aromatic persistence, on and over top of even two months earlier, in such a hyper-grapey way with terrific dry extract chained to tannin and humid minerality. The many months of leave in gentle oak is stating its technically procured, quote unquote de-classified case.

From my earlier note of April 2015:

In 2012 the blend is Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Viognier was left out because according to winemaker J-L Groux “it did not work in blending trials.” The vintage has laid the foundation for the most density and unctuous fruit for the Stratus White in what must be, ever. At the high aromatic end there is peppery beeswax, reverberating and echoing in scales and arpeggios. Like an open string singing warmly, the vintage, extraction and residuum combine for texture in mottled unction. Sapid lemon, more beeswax and lanolin mark the palate and then the White drifts into spaces occupied by smoky back beats and bites. This has great pitch with a knowledge of the path to pleasure. Drink 2017-2025

Last tasted June 2015  @StratusWines

From left to right: Stratus Red 2012, Bachelder wines Niagara Chardonnay Saunders Vineyard 2012, Ca'marcanda Promis 2013, Versado Malbec Reserva 2011, Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2013 and J. Christopher Bella Vida Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

From left to right: Stratus Red 2012, Bachelder wines Niagara Chardonnay Saunders Vineyard 2012, Ca’marcanda Promis 2013, Versado Malbec Reserva 2011, Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2013 and J. Christopher Bella Vida Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

Libra (The Scales)

Indecisive, solicitous, harmonious and balanced

Stratus Red 2012, VQA Niagara On The Lake, Ontario (131037, $44.20, WineAlign)

The Stratus Red 2012 resides both in a virtuoso’s hollow and in a pantheon inhabited by some of Niagara’s great reds. The fact that such ripe phenology can anticipate and foretell to balance and freedom in the byplace of the blending process is nothing short of amazing. Sinuous and exact, of berries so indefatigable, layering raspberry over blackberry atop strawberry. Cedar and red citrus compound, without jamming the fluidity, but certainly accentuating the Fragaria vesca. Confident and fluid in movement, the ’12 neither shakes nor stirs and its acidity is flat out terrific. At this early point in its evolution it is showing as well as could be expected, or hoped for. Its core of fraises du bois will always be there. Time will be kind, gentle and patient. Drink 2015-2024.   Tasted April and June 2015

Gemeni (The Twins)

Curious, generous and communicative

Bachelder Wines Niagara Chardonnay Saunders Vineyard 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario (324103, $44.95, WineAlign)

From a site 2.5 km’s from the lake, right on the highway at 30 Bench. Derives its plushness from mere proximity so “serve it first,” pleads Thomas. So much lush, more richesse and yet today, Saunders is a bit closed, primary even. Will yet need some time to find its way. Drink 2015-2021.

From my earlier note of May 2014:

Though presently showing a bit inferential, no amount of Bachelder reduction can keep good fruit down nor can it dismantle the mastery of mineral impart. An arras of texture conceals the portal to both vineyard and barrel with streaks of salinity, charcoal and chalk. The 2012 rendition is a canvas laden with pure golden paint, concealing “hidden forms and shifting states.” Thomas has found a rhythm in Saunders through thick brush strokes, full and advancing. This warm vintage is not a receding one, its flavours and its texture do the opposite. They jump out at you in waves. For Thomas, the sublime is now.

Last tasted December 2014  @Bachelder_wines

Leo (The Lion)

Leader, lover, dignified, relaxed and proud

Ca’marcanda Promis 2013, Igt Toscana, Italy (745638, $55.95, WineAlign)

In the only vintage for which such a trial was performed (2003), the chance was had to taste this 2013 under cork side by side with that vintage under screw cap. The difference was vividly palpable, for good or bad, better or worse. Under cork the young wine is like a perfectly shone lump of cool, refulgent coal with so much spice and accent in permeate of an aromatic fruitcake wheel. Under Stelvin the 12 year-old Promis’s freshness is amplified, of early immortality, with the ripest of tannins. The acidity is markedly formidable and yet both wines display a cured nature in undercurrent. Two 10 years separated Promis of spine, spirit and grounded in earth. Leave this 2013 be for two more years, screw cap or not. Drink 2016-2024. Tasted October 2015  @StemWineGroup

Sagittarius (The Centaur)

Adventurous traveller, mythological and experiential

Versado Malbec Reserva 2011, Luján De Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (316984, $59.95, WineAlign)

Peter Gamble describes the ’11 Reserva as “integrated right out of the gate” and blessed with “a little more fruit component.” That is can show such freshness this early in its life span (especially in consideration of the beasts that are 2009 and 2010) is nothing short of a Malbec miracle. This is a wine that saw spontaneous fermentation, which made for very nervous times in the winemaking hands of Roberto de la Mota. Stems were used and their participation lends a Mediterranean feel, in the aromatic impart of sea salinity and kelp. The oak is scaled back a touch so the chalk push, while present, integrates in finer grain within the gritty, iron structure. This is the softest (hyper-relatively speaking) Reserva to date with a newly defined massive attack. The temperature fluctuations of the vineyard are integral in its structure and the question needs to be asked, “how can you have a day without a night?” In the Versado Reserva 2011 you have both. It is a Malbec of unfinished sympathy. Drink this sooner, starting in 2017 and for longer, to 2030.  Tasted September 2014 and October 2015  @VersadoWine  @winesofarg

Pisces (The Fishes)

Graceful, passionate, religious, daydreamer

Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2013, Sonoma Coast, California (215210, $64.95, WineAlign)

If 2013 is turning out to be the first truly great Chardonnay vintage of the century out of Sonoma, the Flowers SC is categorically up front and centre in that discussion. The epic’s lead paragraph initializes here in a wine that is severely accurate, a blinding and gorgeous expression that brings the flowers in its game. A wield of pulchritude and balance by acidity spot on. Pure flavour extract expands and the components zing on the finish. Could there lurk a Meursault notion in its lace? You know what, forget that. Strike comparisons from the record. The Flowers is extraordinary of Chardonnay, by Chardonnay and for Chardonnay. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted July 2015  @FlowersWinery  @rogcowines  @sonomavintners

Scorpio (The Scorpion)

Secretive, perceptive, intense, insightful, with a strength of will

J. Christopher Bella Vida Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon  (432823, $64.95, WineAlign)

Lithe and extremely pretty Pinot Noir, reeking of that ancient underground, saline Willamette stream and above ground, Dundee Hills fresh summer berries. Has the best tense intentions, readily available sultry, soluble tannins and just pitch perfect, happy helping acidity. This has the svelte cure and the natural tug of positivity. Sanguine, hematic, volcanic. Great stuff. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted October 2015  @BellaVidaWine  @Oregon_Wine  @Select_Wines

Good to go!

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign: Michael Godel


Wine around the boot in 40 days

Fall is the time for all things Italian, wine included.

as seen on

It began in the middle of October, on a Tuesday, on the ides I believe. Two weeks earlier I had penned this column: Fall is the time for Tuscan wine.

I was wrong. Fall is the time for all things Italian, wine included. At no time of year is there more of a conscious, active pursuit of Italian produce and gastronomy; salumi, chestnut, porcini, truffle and especially wine.

For the better part of a month and a half I have been tasting Italian wine, from just about everywhere it is made around the boot. Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emiglia Romagna, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardia, Marche, Molise, Piemonte, Sardegna, Sicilia, Toscana, Trentino-Alto Adige, Umbria and Veneto. Three essential events brought Italy to Canada, two being of the intimate and tutored kind. The third, a massive annual affair (though no VinItaly) tied the Italian federation of wine-producing regions together under one gorgeously acoustic roof.

Lunch with Fiorenzo Dogliani of Beni di Batasiolo and Charton Hobbs, October 25, 2013

George Restaurant, 111 Queen St E, Toronto, (416) 863-6006 @georgeonqueen

The Dogliani family produce a wine range of wines in Piemonte and although love has not been lost for the “beni,” properties encasing the symbiotic relationship between farmhouses and vineyards, or tradition as a guiding force, Batasiolo is not out-of-place in the fast, forward thinking aesthetic of modern Italian winemaking. “Past and future co-exist” and wine speaks of the estate’s “Great Vineyards,” Briccolina, Boscareto, Cerequio and Bofani. Vineyards that persist in producing outstanding produce.

Tutored tasting with Gaia Gaja of Gaja Wines and Stem Wine Group, October 31, 2013

Bosk – Shangri-La Hotel, 188 University Avenue, Toronto, (646) 788-8888  @BoskTO @wineguy2005

Gaja owns 250 acres of vineyards in Barbaresco and Barolo. In 1994 they acquired Pieve Santa Restituta in Montalcino, Tuscany and in 1996 they added Ca’Marcanda in Bolgheri, Tuscany on the coast. The significance of this acquisition lies in the Bordeaux varieties grown there; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and especially Cabernet Franc. There will come a day, not so far away, when that Cabernet Franc will make some truly exceptional wine.

The Gaja brand, while nearly 155 years young, has recently climbed into a league of its own. To consider the wines, the estates and the aura that surrounds, you might think there was a marketing team of hundreds blanketing the earth.  On the contrary. There is Gaia Gaja.

PHOTO: Michael Godel
Gaia Gaja and Sperss Langhe 1999

Gaia Gaja brought her family’s wines to Toronto. She spoke for more than an hour. Non-stop. “I am a woman and I am Italian,” she confessed. No one complained. All were captivated by the presentation and the presenter.

It is quite something to have the opportunity to taste wines like the 2008 Rennina Brunello di Montalcino, 2009 Barbaresco, 2008 Conteisa Barolo and the ethereal 1999 Sperss Langhe. Angelo Gaja is the rogue master of Piemonte, the first to think outside the box and break down ancient restrictions and boundaries. Who would argue that success is owed, more than in part, to his determination to rid the region of pride and stubbornness.

The dichotomy in images and in wine is not something easily understood unless you have listened to someone like Gaia Gaja tell the story. Here, a small village in Piemonte, the photograph showing a rag-tag assembly of small homes packed tightly together. The story told that beneath every house there is a winery and the greatest Nebbiolo on the planet there being produced. The farmers growing grapes on slopes so famous, not because the terroir may be noted as terre bianche or terre brune, but because the wines, like Sori Tildin or Sori San Lorenzo transform the produce into magic and command never imagined prices.

Gaja, the brand, is as famous as any from Italy, but Gaia takes nothing for granted. She is the perfect spokesperson for her family’s business. She is outwardly nostalgic, plotting a course from the very origins of the family’s connection to the land. Her attention to the simple is what Edward Steinberg noted in his Gaja memoir, The Vines of San Lorenzo. “The growing of grapes on one plot of land and their subsequent transformation is the story of Everywine.”

On November 4, 2013 I attended the annual Taste Italy, a tasting of wines from Italy at Roy Thomson Hall. I was particularly impressed with the terrific value to be found in the wines of Ca’ Dei Mandorle and the excellence from Pietro Rinaldi. Rinaldi’s BARBERA SUPERIORE (90) elevates the genre while the BARBARESCO 2010 (93) exudes a sweet, floral perfume. Castellare di Castellina remains one of my favourite Tuscan houses. The CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 (90) comes from a vintage of agglomeration; the brood and weight of ’06 combined with the beauty and hedonism of ’07. The ’11 CC is fresh, elegant and full of rich fruit.

Here are eight full tasting notes on a wide range of Italian wines, from the hills of Piemonte in the northwest to the tiny island of Sardegna in the south.

JERZU CHUÈRRA RISERVA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA 2008, Sardinia, Italy (270272, $16.95)

Ancient carsic cave dweller, inhabitant of underground hollows, Brett monster, heartbreaker saying “don’t you mess around with me.” A salt lick studded with crushed aniseed on a bed of Mediterranean flowering maquis and garrigue. Coal-fired, stonking stuff full of tannic tension.  A bit offal-ish and not for the faint of stomach or heart. For others a dream maker.  89  Tasted October 2013  @FrontierWine

DI MAJO NORANTE CONTADO RISERVA AGLIANICO DEL MOLISE 2010, Molise, Italy (967208, $17.95, SAQ 11294817, $17.35)

Has travelled a well-worn path up on cripple creek. The band played a veritable fruit and vegetable smoothie, pulsed from prune, oxidative purple plum, chewy raisin, tomato leaf and pulp in concentrate. Really excellent tension and a tar/coal/charcoal tendency came late. “When that nag to win came around the track” sure enough this Aglianico had won. If it weren’t for so much tomato on the nose this would have been a very fine wine.  88  Tasted October 2013

PHOTO: Michael Godel
Banfi Cuvée Aurora Rosé 2009

BANFI CUVÉE AURORA ROSÉ 2009, Alta Langa, Metodo Classico (355693, $24.95)

The fifth and surely seminal year in production of this French oak barrique aged, 100 per cent Pinot Noir fizz, composed from 90 per cent ”clear wine” and 10 per cent juice of the previous vintage. Follows classic, traditional skin contact cold maceration methodology and seems to emulate the style of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut. Dry and savoury, distinctly rhubarb-scented, showing amazing freshness and wild borealis waves. A conglomerate Tuscan outfit paying attention to the small details in Piedmont.  90  Tasted November 2013  @CastelloBanfi

CA’MARCANDA PROMIS 2010, IGT Tuscany, Italy (745638, $47.95, NLL 7997, 2005, $46.11)

A syrupy rich and aromatically confected Tuscan coastal blend of 55 per cent Merlot, 35 per cent Syrah and 10 per cent Sangiovese. Anchored by a mineral stranglehold and intense aniseed studded grit. Dried rose, black tea and a trattoria’s wooden walls put you sitting in the taverna, waiting for the boar ragu to arrive. Will see to a serious future if the blackberry and Cassis fruit can hold up. The Promis is in ode to the past made in a clean and concise manner. Negotiates a partnership between the ancient Piemontese world of Angelo Gaja and a new generation of Tuscany style.  91  Tasted on October 25th and November 19th, 2013  @StemWineGroup

GAJA DAGROMIS BAROLO 2008, Piedmont, Italy (Stem Wine Group, $74.99, B.C. 161141, $69.99, NLL 7999, 2003, $84.99)

A Nebbiolo produced from two old vineyards owned by the Gromis family, acquired by Gaja in 1995, one in Serralunga adjacent to the iconic Sperss and the other in La Morra adjacent to Conteisa. Clay and marl Tortonian-era soils are its fodder and this Barolo comes across like iron-rich earth, boled through stucco and warmed to a rosy madder. Cultures 14.5 per cent abv with the most unimaginable, delicate nature. Mirror of her maker.  94  Tasted October 2013

PHOTO: Michael Godel
Batasiolo Line-Up at George Restaurant

BATASIOLO LANGHE ROSSO 2011, Piedmont, Italy (981019, $16.95)

Several local varieties (Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto) are sourced here from the hills of Langhe. Forward fruity, vinous and in turn, resinous, built solid and structured with juicy acidity. Plays all the right components to offer value. This Rosso is well-thought out, not heavy-handed nor overly composed. Excellent value.  89  Tasted October 2013

BATASIOLO BAROLO 2009, Piedmont, Italy (178542, $29.00, SAQ 10856777, $29.40)

Spent a year in bottle following its 100 per cent new oak, two-year, early settling. Produced from a combination of nine disparate vineyards, ranging from valley low to hilltop high, it is ultimately a very fine value in approachable, qualified and legitimate Barolo as you are likely to come across. A farmer’s finesse loads up red berry fruit and ripe plum, bursting fresh and massaged by a healthy level of grainy tannin. A general list Barolo that acts quite serious, if perhaps out of a vintage leaning towards the austere.  89  Tasted October 2013

BATASIOLO VIGNETO CORDA DELLA BRICCOLINA BAROLO 2007, Piedmont, Italy (992271, $75.00, SAQ 10814631, 1.5L $108.25)

From a chord running through a vineyard across a ridge at the top of a hill. Full sun exposure boldly transmutes to modernity out of the highest extraction. An underlying funk pays homage to the single vineyard designation’s storied past and this Nebbiolo is to Batasiolo as Madonna del Piano is to Valdicava. Hard as nails, rapt mineral composure, linear and precise like the vineyard it comes from. So far from opening the door to conjugal visits. There will be chestnut Zabaglione when the times comes 10 years forward. At $75 this is Cru Piemontese for a song. 93  Tasted October 2013

Good to go!

The wine diaries: Italian masters

Photograph by bartuchna,

Importers Robert Tomé and Tony Macchione are serious about wine, especially of the Italian variety. Who wouldn’t be bound and determined to taste through a portfolio that includes Siro Pacenti, Valdicava, Collemattoni, Argiolas, Masciarelli and their most recent addition, Gaja.

as seen on

On Monday, October 1st I joined the throng of thrill seekers at the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, to engage in some grape stem cell therapy. Here are my notes on 20 wines from seven noble Italian producers at the Stem Wine Group 7th Annual Family of Wines Gala Tasting 2012.

Azienda Agricola Masciarelli, Abruzzo

Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2011 ($14.99) resounds fruit forward and redolent as grape must, more treble than bass, a chiave di violino. The ‘G’ clef is music to my sense of smell, straightforward and honest to taste. A snapshot to winemaker Marina Cvetic on a Sunday afternoon, relaxed, on the terrace, with a view of the sea to the east.  87

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2011 ($14.99, $14.80 in Quebec) of aromatics pointing to volcanic ash, smoke, tar and lead feels like ancient wine yet goes vanilla cool and silky down the hatch. Made in the shadow of the Apennines, “even when mountains crumble to the sea,” there would still be Marina and me. Thank you Abruzzo.  88

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo ‘Marina Cvetic’ 2007 ($28.99, $27.35 in Quebec) shows more evolution since my previous tasting note, “long, harmonious expression of a much maligned grape. Jumping aromas as if an opened jar of raspberry jam on a winter’s morning. Great value from this winemaker mother of three’s (22, 13 and 3) namesake bottling.” Now in peak form, some splinters, nearing the plank.  90

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo ‘Villa Gemma’ 2005 ($74.99) of grace and flawless visage is, as I mentioned previously built of “major league fruit and ferocious grip but in danger of creeping over the edge. Time may be the factor but why wait. The MC is $40 cheaper and offers everything you could ask for in an MD’A.  91

Argiolas, Sardegna

Vermentino ‘Costamolino’ 2011 ($16.99, $21.99 in British Columbia) lives by the sea which makes Sardegna a bit like  “a land called Honah Lee.” There is tangy, tropical fruit and a puff of mineral salts, unquestionably typical of the Argiolas style. Pure Mediterranean white magic.  88

Cannonau “Is Solinas” 2009 ($24.95) from vines on the beach is still so young so “those seagulls are still out of reach.” The crystal salinity of the sea clings to the grape leaves, says Export Manager Beppe Pinna, imparting a minerality to the grapes unlike anywhere else. Made from 95% tough Carignano, the hipster Solinas needs time before it’s ready to face the crowd.  Should be a star.  89

Boroli, Alba, Piedmont

Barbera D’Alba 2008 ($15.99) is, as Mr. C. notes, so underrated, especially at this entry-level. A ripe bowl of cherries dusted with dry, ground cherry powder. Delivers the dry and dusty goods.  88

Barolo 2006 ($49.99) advances with rancorous grit and coarse determination. Tart red fruits prickle with feeling and analeptic assistance from their perch high up on a mountain of tannin. Expect nothing less than time from this gutsy effort.  88

Barolo ‘Cerequio’ 2004 ($87.99) from the prestigious Grand Cru single vineyard seems wise beyond its years. Dried cherries, flowers, orange peel and licorice salmagundi with a weedy dill overtone. The herbaceousness is not off-putting, as can be the case in some austere Nebbiolo or Brunello. Stately effort and not shy.  92

Collemattoni, Montalcino, Tuscany

Rosso Di Montalcino 2009 ($24.99) the teenage princess dai capelli scuri of shoulder length and silky red fruit is irresistible. Full on ripeness and glowing with genetically imprinted joy.  88

Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 ($52.99) is likewise approachable and sets forth to perfume the room with Pelargonium Zonale. But the ‘Mattoni is also bent on perpetuating a dogged determination befitting the dogmatic Sangiovese Grosso. A queen to the Rosso’s princess, confident of red fruit, built of solid brick befitting the house of its ancestry.  90

Siro Pacenti, Montalcino, Tuscany

Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 ($89.99, $87.25 in Quebec) is a closed wall of doom, aroma wise, save for a malinger of merda. Nothing a good swirl can’t aerate. A tactical deployment and early blending of north and south Montalcino grapes will help to harmonize this Brunello within a reasonable amount of time. While difficult to assess so young, speculation as to its future is not so obtuse a concept. Ripe cherries and plums are just a few years away from crawling out of the hoi polloi of leather and game. The wine will shine in 2015.   93

Valdicava, Montalcino, Tuscany

Rosso Di Montalcino 2009 ($33.99, $44.99 in British Columbia) extolls the winery’s virtue that cleanliness is next to godliness, echoing Tony’s story about WErproprietor Vincenzo Abbruzzese’s obsession with a clean cellar. Despite Valdicava’s omnipresent perfume of sheep off the vineyard floor, this Rosso is clean, pure and indicative of great Brunello.  90

Brunello Di Montalcino 2004 ($119.99) is the most benevolent and democratic of Valdicava’s Brunelli. Balanced design of smoky, red fruit, earth, spice, licorice and that unmistakable Valdicava perfume. Expertly crafted, impossible not to like. Like I wrote before, “softer, loaded with licorice, pureed sweet peppers and ruby minerality. Seductive, sensuous and really put together. “If she asks me, do i look alright? I say yes, you look wonderful tonight.”  93

Brunello Di Montalcino 2005 ($104.99) obliges the vineyard’s tenet with great intention and of a congenial nature. The red fruit, spice, panna and terra cotta notes are all in check but the vigor is buried in invisible circumstance. Basic for Valdicava but only because the other vintages are so extraordinary.  88

Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($104.99, $137 in British Columbia), again, from an earlier note. “Initially softer in the mouth begins rolling furiously then is found going down hard stone lines. Finishes with gritty, chalky tannins. Crack one in ten years and it’s “gonna open up the throttle…bust another bottle.”  94

Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 ($139.99) is a romance of cheese and animale with its dueling scents of Pecorino di Pienza and pecora nera. Damp earth, wool and unwashed rind combine for the most unique set of Sangiovese smells. Sniff on past and note tobacco, licorice, black cherry and the mineral core beneath the hills.  Complexity of complexities.  95

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva Madonna Del Piano 2005 ($134.99) is intensely concentrated, a dreamy and creamy correlated affair between fruit and oak. The sheep’s redolence returns and combines with the meracious, subterranean earth. The ubiquitous Valdicava perfume can only be brined to this level from the historic single vineyard set in the valley north of Montalcino.  Score is consistent with last year’s note. “Monstrous, hunts down the taste buds and renders them comfortably numb. Feeling down? This Madonna will, years from now, “ease your pain, get you on your feet again.”  95

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva Madonna Del Piano 2006 ($169.99) is sacred Sangiovese, an inviolable reliquary of immaculacy deep beneath Montalcino’s altar. A vamp of essential Tuscan fruit. If you were to stand on a hill in Montalcino in winter time and listen carefully, you would hear a low sipping sound. That is the sound of the entire town drinking of the Madonna Del Piano.  97

Gaja, Barbaresco, Piedmont

Barbaresco 2008 ($218.95, $199 in British Columbia, $199 in Quebec) has not yet unfurled from earthly slumber. Subtle yet discernible greatness as previously noted. “Whiffs smoked beef tongue from the great merchant delicatessen in the sky. A maze of flavours complex like a Venetian neighborhood with interlocking canals and bridges set to and fro. Not your queen’s Barbaresco, nor Bardolino neither. More Shylock than Antonio. Currently a villain with its tongue lashing tannin. Fast forward 15 years to to act four when the integration of fruit causes the wine to become a victim of happy imbibers.”  94

Good to go!

Two dinners, 16 diners, 18 wines

The Gilead Café and Bistro’s Jamie Kennedy and Ken Steele (photograph courtesy of Jo Dickins)

as seen on

This memory goes back a bit in time. Here are two wine and food out-of-body experiences. Vine and dine encounters of the fortunate kind. The Gilead Café and Bistro’s Jamie Kennedy and Ken Steele worked an enticing concomitant seven-course tasting menu alongside 11 superstars, including a First Growth and two legends of Napa vinolore. Less than a week earlier Chef C and Sous E prepared the simplest, most extraordinary dishes to reign in seven stellar and all together unique bottles.

The Gilead Café and Bistro (photograph courtesy of Jo Dickins)

Le Mesnil Blancs de Blancs Brut Champagne (88) Sweet citrus nose, delicate and fine mousse, tart apples on a finessed palate. A NV to sip with food, though we downed the splash pour before any arrived.

WHITEFISH ROE & ORGANIC EGG TORTE, chervil, crisp toast

Flight One

Creekside Estates Viognier Reserve Queenston Road 2009 (89) Citrus slides straight from the bubbly into this limited production (80 cases) St. David’s Bench beauty. Pale yellow as if Clare Valley Riesling. The scent of Sevilla orange blossom. Organza of downy acidity. A unique local savoir-faire. Thin and tin, as in contrary viscosity and subtle minerality. Like petals falling from the flower almost before the touch of the hand.

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir Cuvee ‘L’ 2007 (86) The candied Sonoma nose and beguiling scents of spice islands made lift for heights great. A Prince Edward County celebrity so imagine the long faces when the fruit was absent at the first sip. Time is a recently opened wine’s friend so waited we did but never the twain did meet. More cogitation, then a vacuum of acidity in a flat finish. If closed down, reprieve on a round globe awaits. If lost, a flat Pinot pre-Columbus earth.

GRILLED ASPARAGUS, yam, white mushroom sauce

Flight Two

The general origins of these three wines were blindly determined but each not in the speculated glass. How is it that eight wine geeks can have their seasoning shattered by a single flight? “All the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again.” The heart of the matter.

Oyosoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2003 (91) One of three in a variable flight to confound. Black cherry in clusters, a power forward fruit first step then backed by biting tannins and striking acidity. Could have sworn it was the Napa. Held its own against two serious contenders. Eye opening as to the power of BC.

Von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain 2000 (90) The cigar box and mineral tone threw me in front of the train with the surety I was nosing a Cos ringer. Smoky, distinct graphite and fruit half hidden suggested a 2000 Left Bank not nearly in its prime. Wrong!

Château Pontet Canet, 5th Growth, Paulliac 2000 (93) Was the best wine of the three, even when I thought it was the Larose! Poise, balance, length, insert fourth cliché here. Still youthful, a beautiful teenager before the awkward years. Will be seamless at 20.

LAMB, new potatoes, herb paste

J.K. BEEF SHORT RIB, marrow sauce

Flight Three

Château Haut-Brion, 1st Growth, Péssac-Leognan 1990 (98) Are there words to describe a wine so sublime? The essence of fresh picked berries from the edge of a forest so silent. The embodiment of still life beauty, as a bowl of plums and cherries just picked from the tree. The vehemence of the Haut-Brion in prime will remain entrenched as memorabilia for as long as I can produce cognitive thought. Why do I wax sentimental? “How can love survive in such a graceless age?” I thank CL for the opportunity and no man who partook should forget.

Dominus 1990 (93) Incredulous thought. Could it be? Is that dank and dour odour the beast within? Patience, patience. Now five minutes in and the wet duff smell vanishes. The wafting emergence of a cracking covey of nose candy. Heavy sigh of relief. Without warning the fruit eddies out and it’s gone. What the Sam Hill is going on here? Then 15 minutes later it oscillates again, scrambles from the depths and treads water effortlessly for the duration. Exhausting. Thanks M for providing the skiff.

CHEESE, pied de vent, sieur de duplessis, goat taurine, cow’s creamery cheddar

One More Red

Opus One 1989 (95) Unbelievable. A lesson in Napa iconoclasm. What every great 22-year old New World wine should strive to become. In harmony with every part of itself; fruit, tannin, acidity. Beauty within and without. Dark, sultry, full of all things berry and oak. The full gamut of red and black fruit, vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Like walking into your childhood and being handed the keys to Charlie’s factory. Another M gem.

APRICOT BEIGNETS, dulce de leche ice cream

Inniskilin Riesling Icewine 1998

Hugel Riesling SGN 2000

CROSTINI, goat cheese, honeycomb, fleur de sel, olive oil

Charles Baker (Stratus) Picone Vineyard Riesling 2008 (89) “Whoo-ahhh” Mojito, green apple skin scent of a Riesling. Seductive to sip, a bodacious body of influence, then back-end bite. A wolf pack in sheep’s clothing.


Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières 2008 (92) Restrained but tropical nose. So far from show time. In rehearsal the acidity is followed by fruit. By late decade opening night will display impeccable balance.

Closson Chase Iconoclast Chardonnay 2005 (90) Antithesis of the Leflaive; fruit first, acidity last. Bananas and I’m curious as George to behold PEC fruit yielding such a determined, complex specimen? Fortuitous choice to open now as I fear oxidization is around the bend. Still in a state of aggrandizement. Plaudits for Paskus.

Foxen Sea Smoke Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 (93)  Classic Santa Rita Hills candied red apple, sugaring pomegranate and fresh ground spices. A Michelin three-star complex dish with layers of fruit, spice and finished with a rosy-red rhubarb sauce. Full of life. Finishes long and true. Terrific example.

BRISKET AND FLAT IRON SLIDERS, american cheese, wonder buns, side of grilled raddicchio and belgian endive

Château Cos d’Estournel, 2nd Growth, St Estèphe 2003 (92-94) You could set your alarm clock, for tomorrow morning or after a cryogenic freeze, by the Cos ’03. A reasonable practicum suggests opening it, have a night’s rest, to wake six hours later and be told its story. Smokey, gripped by graphite and tannin, impossibly structured out of the 2003 heat. Showing no signs of age and despite warnings to drink up, the ’03 Cos will deliver for years to come.

Ca’ Bianca Barolo 1997 (91) Not the rose petals and violets of your zio‘s Barolo but bigger than your head cheese. Funky resin, more than raisins yes, raisins with a college education. A Pudd’Nhead Wilson moniker getting figgy with it. Barbaric and fantastic.

CHEESES, monforte dairy

Gaja Sito Moresco 2008 (89) A tale of two Cabs (Sauv and Franc) was my first thought but cut the Dickens out of my finger if that impression was way off the mark. The Langhe blend is Nebbiolo/Cab Sauv/Merlot and only Gaja would have first dared to trod such territory. Smooth, easy to consume and could have suffered as an admonished follower to the line-up previous. Stands tall, welcoming the tang of the formaggi.


Good to go!