Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Barolo & Barbaresco

Posted by JonDerry, Apr 2, 2015.

WB has a thread on this, why not us?

Cracked my first one over the weekend, a Giorgio Pelissero Barbaresco Nubiola. While Pelissero has a couple more highly esteemed Barbaresco (Tulin, of which I have a few, and Venotu, of which I hope to get some), I enjoyed this wine, and picked the right time to open it as it was accessible enough for the casual wine drinkers among me, but also with a complexity they weren't used to.

 Ripe and sexy, the chocolate, vanilla, and coffee notes outweigh the dark red fruit in flavor profile. Not a ton of freshness here, but the acidity is medium and good enough. The tannins coat the mouth toward the back, with some delightful abrasion, leading to an expansive, medium plus finish. Modern in style here no doubt, but I enjoyed this and like the value.

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 2, 2015.

Prepping this for tonight...having some neighbors over, some of which who love Nebbiolo, so should be interesting. Fox highly (double highly) recommended this wine from his trip to Piedmont last year, so this is also a bat signal for Foxall.

I don't think I'll double decant this one...maybe pour off a couple ounces and let it sit open all day.

 

 

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Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 2, 2015.

You can send those few ounces my way if you have no other use for them.  Both of those Barbarescos look delicious.

 

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Reply by GregT, Apr 2, 2015.

Why are you drinking them so young?

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 3, 2015.

Really just to see what they're like and get a feel for the producers style. Also for fun.

The Pelissero was a success in this regard, the delle Rose, not as much. Even with all the air I gave it, it didn't open very much on the palate, the nose was interesting though, more medicinal and menthol in with the tar and roses. Having tasted the wines, I can say that Pelissero is more modern while delle Rose is more traditional.

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 5, 2015.

Expanding the thread title to include the main guts of Piedmont.

Drinking young again today, but I have over a case left, so can afford to.

Shows a compressed but bright nose of sour (red) cherry and cranberry with just a hint of oak shavings. Elegant, medium viscosity on the attack, with good medium to medium plus freshness. The sour cherry, cranberry impressions repeat on the palate, elevated by good and powerful, mouth coating tannins, which are relatively friendly (not so harsh), with good supporting spice and mineral effects. The finish sails on for the better part of a minute, again showing good power and balance. No bottle prep here, just pulled from my 55 degree staging fridge, opened, and poured. First of over a case and am thrilled to have found such a good, reasonably priced Barolo producer. This drinks similar to a 2010 red Burgundy.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 5, 2015.

That Fenocchio would have been better on the second or third day, IMO.

Funny, I just inventoried my meager holdings of Barolo.  I'm probably going to start cracking some '07s, a kind of young drinking vintage, and it's definitely time to open the Aldo Conterno GB from 2000.  I'd sit on the delle Rose quite a bit longer, frankly, although I think the '11s are going to be good for early drinking. 

We're working hard to move ahead on the house project, but we have hit a roadblock because our architect's usual structural engineer has too many obligations.  I'm planning the move of the wine (25-30 cases right now) into a reputable climate controlled facility nearby.  But to save on space and aggravation, I'm going to start drinking down a few things.  Some older or mediocre cabs--'98 Ritchie Creek might count as both-- and some Barolo like the above.  If anyone gets up this way, there's a good BYOb restaurant in Oakland and I'll sport a couple bottles...

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 6, 2015.

I liked the Fenocchio a lot more than the delle Rose which is great as I have about two+ cases of mixed Fenocchio (while looking to add more) and just a few more dR. It was the blood, iodine, and iron notes that turned me off on the delle Rose. That '99 Rabaja we had at my house had a similar effect but it seemed even more pronounced in the dR. Still, it'll be interesting to see how it ages.

The Fenocchio will certainly make it to day 2 tomorrow. I have about 7/8th's left for the Duke Wisconsin game. Opened it today out of boredom while Ryan and wife were napping. Great stuff.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 6, 2015.

If you store those delle Rosas, I'll take them off your hands when I see you next.  Unless you want to be a scientist about it and keep them to see how they develop. 

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Apr 6, 2015.

I'd store them as well but that soil is mineral rich and the gamy, savory note will always remain, though time will reveal such lovely fruit and roses. The Fenoccio is a more complex wine, with a notable degree of the aromatics coming from the ageing regimen. Both great wines!

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 9, 2015.

Thanks for the thoughts Greg, I had suspected the wine would always be gamy, but it's good to get confirmation. I'm sure it will evolve to show more characteristics over time, just not sure I want to wait around, and I may have a willing buyer in Foxall ; )

Interesting that I've found that slightly offputting presence in two Barbaresco now and have not really encountered it in Barolo. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 9, 2015.

Some of the Barolos have that profile as well.  I found it was common enough in any nebbiolo that grew in certain soils.  Too pronounced can be offputting, I agree, but a lot of it could be timing.  If the wine has shut down a bit (which is where it should be at in its evolution right now, I think, but I defer to Greg) then that's going to be pronounced because the fruit has stepped back, leaving the mineral flavors exposed.  I definitely found that some of the oldest Barolos (and Gattinaras and Barbarescos) we drank--Jamie purchased a bunch--had faded so much that what you describe as the iodine flavor had become pretty overwhelming.  I really love Nebbiolo based wine--I think I can say that with some assurance after going with GdP and drinking so many examples--and I can understand that its acids and tannins and haunting delicacy suggest a great wine to age, but I think that character--again, present in some locations more than others--emerges as the fruit recedes and makes timing the drinking of certain old Barolos very tricky. 

JD, I'll take those off your hands as soon as my house construction is done.  I have faith in Cascina delle R. 

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Reply by JonDerry, May 4, 2015.

The Romirasco was excellent to say the least, power, balance, and some elegance.

The Burlotto was also very nice, so distinctive as GdP says, and I'm glad I opened it, my only bottle to see its potential. The most elegant, feminine Barolo I've tasted, but this still had structure.

 

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Reply by JonDerry, May 4, 2015.

The Sandrone's were not as much to my tastes...the 1993 was very dry and woody, perhaps more woody.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 4, 2015.

Sandrone is modernist, so it's interesting to see what's happening to those.  The modernists probably made the wines more drinkable young by taming the tannins with oak, but at a cost of burying some of what makes Nebbiolo unique. (Here I am sounding like some cocksure expert--I'm not, but this is certainly how many, including Oz Clarke, saw it, and consistent with my limited experience.) Some would say he's not a pure modernist because he uses barrels that are bigger than traditional barrique and sometimes a long maceration, but he uses new wood, which is really, to me, the key.  I think the natural tannins and sharpness are key to Barolo's ability to age and "taming" those just ruins all the fun.  Especially since the Langhe, like so much of the world, is getting warmer and ripeness is much less of an issue.  (Rain, weird storms are still a big threat, as we've seen pretty recently.)

Okay, last night we went out to Venticello in SF.  Meant to go in December but were running late and had to cancel at the last second.  Venticello is a very small restaurant that does very little to promote itself that I can see.  I stumbled upon it twenty years ago (a little more) and go back every couple years.  Best gnocchi anywhere, and the food is the closest thing I have found in spirit to regional Italian cooking from the north of the country.  We had that gnocchi and a veal t-bone along with a kale salad.  They have small but really good wine list.  Only Cal and Ital, and the Cal wines include Mauritson Cab and Hendry Primitivo, so props for that.  But the crown jewels are some properly aged Italian wines, including Barolo from 1989, 2001, and 2004.  The 2001 is a Cicala from Aldo Conterno, and goes for $325.  Ouch!  But luckily corkage is only $25, and I had this sitting in my basement:

Not my photo, sorry.  But that very bottling.  So I read the 2000s are peaking early, like right now, and I didn't really want to move this.  I thought about having a tasting, but then I decided 1) it would be perfect with Venticello's food and 2) I would rather share it with my wife (while reserving a glass for the server) than with a large group.  Turned out to be a good call. Actually, better than good.  Started out clean, fresh, with a nice touch of acid and silky tannins.  Traditional tar and roses, plus rosemary and eucalyptus notes.  Over time it rounded out, with a little of the vanillin and clove that Roberto Conterno says is natural, but could also be from Aldo Conterno scraping and refreshing his barrels a little more than others.  Absolutely an exquisite bottle, bought from K&L during that big sale a few years ago.  When the waiter poured it, I said, "If it's gone bad, that's my fault."  Wife's first words:  "It hasn't gone bad."  No, it hadn't.  I've got a bottle of the '04 Romirasco and an '06 Cicala that I'm going to sit on for a little while longer, but I think I'll terminate the '04 Normale pretty soon. 

And, yeah, that Burlotto Monvigliero is much more on the elegant side than many, but it probably had years of life.  Great bottle, for the level reasonably priced, and getting very difficult to find.  I expect the price on those to go up.  BTW, when we were at Burlotto, I saw barrels of something they were making for a private label.  That might be a way to at least get something like the Normale for a good price, but the Normale is also a stunning value on its own.

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Reply by JonDerry, May 4, 2015.

That's good to hear Fox...2000 is the most accessible Barolo I've ever had (happened to be a Bartolo Mascarello in February 2014), so not surprising the Granbussia showed well. Also nice to share a great bottle like that with your SO. I was at a tasting yesterday with a bunch of friends, perhaps we had too many wines on the table, that a lot of the goodness was drowned out toward the end.

On the disappointing side of the ledger, I opened two of my 2006 Fenocchio Bussia Riserva's and they both disappointed me. The first was flawed (some complained of VA, it was just very thin on the palate and short), and I actually had a back up bottle so I opened that. Better, but still not was I was looking for, especially compared to the stars pictured above.

There was also a 2006 Aldo Conterno Cicala that was suspected to have a minor TCA taint or some other flaw that we couldn't pin down. It was also from the K&L sale.

Bummer about the Fenocchio though as I still have a few more and really thought I had a great wine. Hopefully the other bottles with another decade or so will wake up, but it could also speak to the strides they have made in the cellar over the years.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 5, 2015.

Keep in mind that Barolo can be good if tough for some young, but often shuts down for many, many years.  Not sure what the story is with the Fennochio.  I have to say the G. Mascarello from '06 I tasted last year was by no means shut down, either. 


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