Masterclass - Piedmont Barolo and Barbaresco
Following are my notes from ten wines that were tasted with over 350 Singapore wine enthusiasts at our Wine Advocate Masterclass, which we conducted in five Asian cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I listed the wines in the order in which they were tasted, an order provided by Monica Larner, who led the tasting (I just provided side-line comments). However, keeping in mind that I spent a lot of time in Piedmont early in my career, and I love Nebbiolo (one of the world's greatest grapes), the finest examples of which are found in this tiny region of Northern Italy, it was a thrill for me to taste some of the recent vintages.
All of these wines performed incredibly well, with the only quasi-disappointment being the tannic, still somewhat disjointed and angular 2004 Barbaresco Ovello from Cantina Del Pino. The wine of the day, at least for drinking over the next 10-15 years, was the 2004 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva. It exhibited lots of rose petal, tobacco leaf, licorice, kirsch, cedarwood, white truffle and spice characteristics. This is a full-bodied, opulent, layered classic Bruno Giacosa offering from one of the great Barbaresco vineyards - Asili. The other drinkable wine was the 2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montefico, from what may be the greatest qualitatively run cooperative in the world. I began purchasing their wines in 1978, and have been thrilled by how consistently outstanding they have tended to be. This beautiful 2007 Barbaresco Riserva Montefico boasts a deep ruby color along with abundant aromas of red and black fruits, underbrush, forest floor, cedar and spice. Full-bodied and opulent, it is ideal for drinking now and over the next decade or more. Also forward and delicious, but made in a totally different style, was the more progressive, barrique-aged 2010 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja. From a great vineyard, this small barrel-aged Barbaresco exhibited lots of rosewater, cedarwood, cassis, black cherry and licorice notes intermixed with hints of underbrush and herbs.
The densest, most backward, full-bodied wines were the Barolos, led by Aldo Conterno's 2009 Barolo Bussia, which needs at least a decade to reach full maturity, and the remarkably young 2001 Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva X Anni as well as Roberto Voerzio's 2000 Barolo Riserva Vecchie Viti dei Capalot e delle Brunate. The latter wine was powerful, rich, stunningly unctuous and thick. Just becoming approachable, it is loaded with potential. Forward, delicious and sexy, the 2000 Elio Grasso Barolo Runcot is totally different than the 2000 Voerzio Barolo. One of my favorite wines was Vietti's 2001 Barolo Rocche, a classic, old style Barolo meant for long-term aging. A deep, rich, full-throttle wine, it performed fabulously well in this tasting, displaying lots of minerality along with abundant black and red fruits intermixed with hints of licorice, white truffles, roasted meats and spice. Also young, but showing well was the Marchesi Di Barolo 2004 Barolo Riserva. This well-known winery appears to be in the process of renewing its historic reputation.
All things considered, this was a terrific tasting led by a very informative and gifted educator – Monica Larner.
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