Wine Talk

Snooth User: philk1

Question Born from Inexperience

Posted by philk1, Jul 29, 2010.

I guess I should introduce myself before jumping in asking for guidance.  Hi, I'm Phil Kane.  I've been drinking wine for over 40 years but have never really paid much attention to what I was drinking. That began to change when I went on a cruise last summer.  For some reason I became conscious of differences in wine beyond just red and white. So the adventure begins and the passion grows and evolves.  It is an amazing art an endless field of study and a ton of enjoyment.

Anyway, I never tried Barolo.  So I purchased a bottle of Paolo Scavino Barolo 2004.  The reviews suggest to drink the wine after 2011.  What happens if my need for instant gratification takes over and I drink it now? Will the wine fall far short of its potential?  Is there a way around waiting another year? 


Reply by GregT, Jul 29, 2010.

There is absolutely nothing you can do that substitutes for waiting a few more years. 

In spite of what you may read elsewhere about decanting, metal "keys", airing, etc.

And Barolo in particular is one of the wines that most likes time.  Many wines drink pretty well young and can also age but Barolo isn't usually one of them - it really doesn't drink all that well in its youth as a rule.  And it's not like there's any kind of a switch that goes on at a certain date and makes the wine "ready".  So that 2011 date, which I think is really early, isn't particularly meaningful because there will be zero difference between the last day of Dec and the first day of Jan.

My suggestion is to buy a plain nebbiolo, which will be sold as Nebbiolo de Langhe or something like that.  SOME of those are much more approachable when young.  And some age nicely too, esp if they're juice that could have been Barolo but for some reason wasn't labeled as such.

Scavino is sometimes considered "modern" because the wine isn't made exactly like great grandpa made it, but that's kind of a dumb label and his wine isn't something that's going to be luscious and jammy right out of the chute.  If you want a wine that drinks well when it's released but also ages as well as Barolo, well, then I guess you'd have to buy Rioja.

You have a good bottle of wine but I'd really put it away.  Maybe buy an older Barolo somewhere.

Good luck!

Reply by philk1, Jul 29, 2010.

Greg, thanks so much for your response.  The wine will remain on the rack in the basement for a few more years.  Oh well, I'll just have to go out and buy an older vintage Barolo and a Rioja to boot. 


Reply by dmcker, Jul 29, 2010.

Let us know how they taste!

Greg's comments were all, as you noted, spot on. Barolo is famous for its 'closed' or 'dumb' periods. Interestingly, bottles only a year or two past release may show more than bottles five or more years on, which are in that unresponsive period.

Barolos aren't the only wines like that, but they are truly representative examples of the phenomenon. Old-skool Bordeaux also have something similar. California cabs and other big New World reds are famous for being immediately accessible, and in some cases that comes at the expense of their ageability, while in others the wine still will be better 10-or-so years down the pike....

Reply by jcjrogers, Jul 30, 2010.

Cellar Tracker (, shows a drinking window of 2010 - 2018.  Also note there are more than one Paolo Scavino Barolo (Bric del Fiasc, Bricco Ambrogio, and others).  Some of these will need even longer aging. 

I would look at some tasting notes to see what folks are saying, who are drinking now.  If folks say it is drinking well now, you might want to go ahead and drink soon.  If the prevailing thought is that it needs more aging, you could let age a while longer.

Another alternative to a Barolo might be a Barbaresco.  Barbaresco is also made from the nebbiolo grape and typically requires less aging.  It is also usually less expensive than Barolo.  Barbarescos are typically a little less full-bodied and tannic than Barolos.  Supposedly, those from Neive are the most full-bodied and tannic.

Finally, storage is important.  Assuming your basement is cool and dark, it might be a decent place to store wine for relatively short term aging (maybe up to 1 or 2 years), though probably not ideal for extended aging.  Extended aging requires a relatively constant temperature of around 52 - 57 deg F, very little exposure to light (mostly darkness), no vibrations, and a humidity of 50% - 75%.   



Reply by dmcker, Jul 30, 2010.

Good Barbarescos behave similarly to Barolos, and unfortunately are creeping up in price, too.

For more on cellar storage, do a search of the past Forum threads using the box under the 'back to categories' button above and to the right. Several threads have covered the subject in considerable detail.

Reply by GregT, Jul 30, 2010.

jcjrogers - gotta agree with D.  There are fewer producers of Barbaresco than Barolo, but those aren't "early" drinkers for the most part.  Also - CT may have some use, but you've got a lot of random people, most who don't know squat, offering opinions.  There are some super knowledgeable people who post their notes there, but unless you know who they are, it's a crapshoot because they're outnumbered by the others.

Good and important point about storage tho - if it's not stored well, it's better to drink it too young than old and ruined.  But the guy who really knows about these particular wines is Greg DP and he's not checked in yet.  Still, I think the wine is going to be a lot better in the future and meantime, Phil can explore some other wines from the area - maybe some Barbera for example!  The journey is what makes wine fun.

Reply by jcjrogers, Jul 31, 2010.

On a whole, Barbarescos are still cheaper and require less aging than Barolos.  I added a Barbaresco (2006 Produttori del Barbaresco) to my cellar in April.  I think I paid a little less than $25/bottle for 3 bottles.  I haven't opened one yet, so can't really comment on the Produttri del Barbaresco.  However I will say that DOC(G) regulations require less aging for Barbarescos than Barolos. 

As far as Cellar Tracker is concerned, I think it is a great resource.  I know there are knowledgeable folks posting intermingled with less knowledgeable folks, but I just read through all of the tasting notes, eyeball the credentials of the posters, and come to my own conclusions.  As far as the "drinking windows" are concerned, I don't really know where they come from.  However, they usually fall within a year or two of what I see the "professional" scorers recommend.  

Barbera is a great wine, but not nebbolio grapes.  If Philk1 wants something similar to a Barolo, a Barbaresco fits the bill more so than a Barbera.

Finally, I don't claim a lot of familiarity with Barolos as my experience with them is somewhat limited.  I certainly would like to hear from those who have more knowledge/experience.      




Reply by GregT, Jul 31, 2010.

The requirements for the region mandate less aging, but that doesn't mean the wine itself is less worthy. If you can, I'd suggest doing a blind tasting with a few Barbarescos and Barolos from the same vintage.  It's not cut and dried.

But that Produttori is a great buy - I picked some up too. They have to be one of the world's best co-ops anywhere.

Reply by jcjrogers, Aug 1, 2010.

Admittedly, my comment regarding aging of Barolos vs. Barbarescos comes a lot more from what I've read than what I've actually experienced.  The books, articles, and such that I've read put Barolos in a longer "aging class" than Barbarescos as a rule-of-thumb.  However, I'll be the first to admit that rule-of-thumbs can be dangerous when the specifics are not delved into a little deeper.  Barbarescos requiring as much or more aging than certain Barolos do exist, so a little research into a specific bottle before purchasing is highly recommended.    

Do you plan to age your Produttori and what is the vintage?  If you're going to age, how long?   

Reply by GregT, Aug 1, 2010.

Yeah, it's what people usually write and perhaps it's true as a rule of thumb, but think about why.  First, there is just a lot less Barbaresco produced, something like 1/4 or 1/3 or something like that.  Second, Barolo producers had the smarts to call their wine the "Wine of Kings and the King of Wines", something that a few producers in Bordeaux also claim, not to mention the producers in Tokaj, who were surprised when I showed them the logo used in other areas.  But that puts Barbaresco in distinct second place.

Third, and perhaps most important, Barolo beat Barbaresco into the "serious" wine category.  Just like the Spaniards did in Rioja and Penedes for Cava, the good folks in Piedmont invited some French winemakers down to help figure out how to make good dry red wine. They did and a few producers started making that and of course, since they had nebbiolo instead of cab sauv, the techniques resulted in massively tannic wine that needed ages to lighten up.  But people got used to it. Makes you wonder about the Italians in general - they do so much so well but they give us things like that or broccoli rabe. What the hell?

Anyhow, in Barbaresco most wine was still made in co-ops and really it was after WWII that they really started trying to make top notch wine.  The Produttori may be one of the greatest co-ops in the world, but they just won't get the same respect as estate producers. Guys like Giacosa are working in both areas tho, so Barbaresco prices are going to head up.  Finally, the idea used to be that you needed hard tough tannins to age well.  I'm not 100% certain that's true but in any event, Barolo as made by some producers doesn't always have tannins that are impenetrable, so if that matters, people will have to specify what kind of Barolo and Barbaresco they're talking about.  That's an interesting area - it's not my area tho, so I should probably stop here.

I'll keep the 2006 for a while - they didn't make a top bottling and dumped all of their better grapes into the basic bottling, so it's a good wine.  I guess tasting at the five year mark should provide some idea of where it's heading. 


Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

And don't be surprised if it's in a 'closed' period then... ;-)

Barbaresco prices have already been heading up for some time now. Gaja's have been in the stratosphere for decades (they've always been good at marketing, anyway), and others are playing catchup.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 2, 2010.

Hi Phil.


Welcome to Snooth!

2004 was a fairly approachble vintage for Barolo, quite ripe, aoftish tannns all things considered. The base Scavino sees mostly, if not all, neutral larger wood. I might be wrong on that but that's the way it was. I generally find it to be his best bottling, which is a question not asked here but in the Pira email thread which I will respond to shortly.


As far as it being not at it's fullest if you drink it now, well it won't. In fact it won't even be the same wine. All wines go through some sort of transformative process in ageing, but none to the extent that Nebbiolo does. There perfumes these wines generate and the wonderfully texture they achieve with age is incomparable.

Having said that, you might very well find you enjoy your 04 Scavino today, but at some time it will probably shut down hard, exhibiting qualities that have much more in common with black tea than any wine for several years.

It's kind of a crap shoot in any event. I generally do not pop bottles of Barolo or Barbaresco that are less than 10 years old, and 15 is about the time I start doing so with any enthusiasm, for weaker vintages at least. these are wines that really reward ageing so see if you can track down a few aged examples to try before dropping more coin on them. They are a different type of wine than most and not to everyone's liking.

That 2006 Produttori recco is a good one. Just to clarify, the Produttori actually made all the reservas in 2006, and then decided not to bottle them. They were blended back into the regular barbaresco bottling, due to the extra wine there were two lots in 2006, the second has somewhat more of the Riservas blended back in. It was bottled at the end of May, so most, if not all, of what is in the retail channels at the moment is mostly likely the first batch. Not much diference between the two as far as I can tell.





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