Sunday, August 21, 2005

Age Matters: A Barolo Tasting

This tasting was less 'consensual' than many of our tastings, but there was a clear line between the three older wines and the two younger ones. The final tally was as follows:

First: 1990 Marchesi di Barolo Brunate
Pramod's wine was very consistent - six first place, four second place and one third place (me) ranking. I liked this wine, but I preferred the next two slightly better. On the nose the wine was pleasing, with scents of violet, pear, cherry, cedar, mushroom and tea. This medium-bodied Barolo was tannic, harsh and slightly unbalanced, and not as interesting on the palate as it was in the glass. In my mind the wine had peaked and is unlikely to improve, although it should drink well for a few more years. What lowered the score for me was not the taste, but the complexity - interesting, but less so (in my opinion) than the next two. Pramod claims C$86, putting it in the middle of the range.

Second: 1993 Giacomo Conterno Barolo "Cascina Francia"
This wine was VERY close to the wine above in overall ranking, and it was my favourite. A lovely, interesting nose of violets, cherry, vanilla, leather, hazelnuts, almonds and prunes. Medium- to full-bodied with firm tannins, it was very well balanced. Fruity, I described this as a more 'modern' Barolo, with potential for further improvement, despite the age. The most expensive of the evening at ~C$100. (RP-91)

Third: 1996 Paolo Scavino "Bric del Fiasc"
Scores for Lloyd's wine were very close to the previous wines, it was my second favourite. The nose was very aromatic, elegant and interesting, and earthy (cedar, truffles, mushrooms), with additional scents of leather, vanilla, tea and smoke. On the palate I described the wine as austere, with firm tannins and very well balanced, very Barolo. Lots of potential for further improvement, very nice. While the Conterno was my favourite, I would buy this one if I could find it, as the C$85 price seemed appropriate for such a nice young Barolo with so much potential. (RP-91 to 94)

Fourth: 1999 Marchesi di Barolo
Fairly consistently ranked fourth, myself included, although my tasting note sounds like this was the best wine of the night! The nose was elegant and pleasing, with a wide variety of subtle aromas - white flowers, cherry, mint, hay, mushrooms, leather, vanilla and smoke - I scored it highest for the nose. On the palate this medium-bodied Barolo had supple tannins, a smooth glyceriney texture and was very well balanced with a long finish. "Great now, and may get better. Lovely." Hmmm.

Fifth: 1997 Batasiolo Corda della Briccolina
Bringing up the rear was my Batasiolo. Thinking that the Barolos in my cellar are not yet ready, I decided to pick something up at the shop. Big mistake - pretty much everybody's least favourite, including my own! On the nose it was "Very hard to get past the alcohol and tannins". Scents of iodine, fuel. You get the picture. On the palate I described it as harsh, not well integrated, but will improve. Do you want to wait?


1) Age Matters! It was a near linear relationship between age and ranking.
2) Note that those first three wines were ranked very close, while these last two were WELL behind. I believe if we did a rematch, any of the first three could have won.

It was nice to have a tasting away from my house - thank you to Reb and Cosme for hosting this tasting. Overall, a great (expensive) night - I look forward to the next one?