Saturday, October 07, 2006

Barolo Tasting at Cosme's - October 2006

For me Barolo is a fall wine – earthy, brooding, I picture a glass of Barolo while pondering a roast beef on a chilly fall day. So it was appropriate that our first autumn tasting was a Barolo tasting, on a chilly Montreal evening. We tasted the following six wines blind, but with one key difference vs. last year's Barolo tasting - we decanted the wines nearly 3 hours before the tasting.

Like last year's Barolo tasting, there was very little was less consensus - four of the six wines received multiple first place rankings. The final tally was as follows:

First - 1997 Parusso Barolo "Piccole Vigne"
Lloyd finally won! After a fairly consistent string of strong finishes, he pulled out the win when he least expected to. Consistency was the key to a very strong first place finish - while the third place Sandrone garnered just as many first place rankings, the Parusso was almost every taster's 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Everyone seemed to like the classic Barolo smell of this wine - I smelled rose, gooseberry, gobs of licorice, with some earthy, sulphur undertones. Very interesting. This full bodied barolo had firm tannins and a long finish, with more subdued fruit vs. some of the others. I found the wine to be somewhat unbalanced, but should get better and would pair very well with food. It was my second place wine. A very classic Barolo, and seems to be the value winner as well (cost approx. C$80). RP-90

Second - 1995 Massolino Barolo "Margheria"
Pramod's Massolino was the oldest wine of the evening. While it had only two first place rankings, it was also consistently a top 3 wine. The nose was very nice, but so subtle it was hard for me to identify the scents - I found some white flowers, strawberries, mushrooms, vanilla and a nice nutty smell. On the palate this medium bodied wine was delicate, very well balanced, (maybe a bit musty?) with some length. According to my notes this one has peaked. My third favourite. Cost C$86.

Third - 2001 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis
Chris/Marie-Lise's Sandrone was very controversial - while garnering three first place scores, it also garnered a number of low scores (Marie-Lise and Chris ranked it 5th and 6th, respectively - hehehe). I was one of those who ranked it first place - Luciano, I praise you and your winemaking! Such stunning beauty entombed in a 750ml glass container! A beautiful nose - beautiful fruit, with scents of cedar and pine, truffles, leather, mint, butter, vanilla, with nice tannins underneath. This very full bodied wine was more viscous than the others, coating the tongue with chocolatey fruit. Very well balanced, harmonius actually, it still retained that hearty, rustic Barolo flavour. A never-ending finish, this wine will get better. Spectacular. Brought back from Italy, it apparently cost 90 Euros. (I found some US web sites listing it for US$140). Such rare magic, so tantalizingly close to perfection, it is worth every cent in my opinion. A WS-96 I think, and a Stephen Tanzer 97.

Fourth - 1998 Fontanafredda Barolo "la Rosa"
This was my contribution to the evening, and chosen for the simple fact that it was the oldest Barolo in my collection. It was also controversial, with a number of first place (i.e. my wife) and last place (i.e. me) rankings. It was my least favourite, as I believe the wine was corked. Musty, with some cherry and rose aromas, it was not very complex in my opinion. I found this wine to be thin, dilute, and acidic, with harsh tannins. It was somewhat unbalanced, but may improve - it would probably have ranked much higher with me if not corked. At least my wife liked it, as I have one more bottle (hopefully not corked). The least expensive at C$66, probably a close second for the value prize. RP 91-93.

Fifth - 1999 Paolo Scavino Barolo
Ratings were pretty consistent for Cam's Scavino. This was a very nice wine, but young and facing some tough competitors. On the nose it was slightly tart, with scents of raspberry, flowers, liquorice, tea, and smoke, maybe with some green pepper scents. On the palate it was a bit rustic, good but not great, I am not sure if this young Barolo will improve. Cost C$92. RP-89

Sixth - 1999 Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi
Bringing up the rear was Cosme. I don't think he has ever come in last, and I would not have expected it at a Barolo tasting! I actually ranked this wine fourth, and my notes were fairly complimentary. The nose was pleasant and very fruity, with scents of cherries and strawberries, mint, cocoa, nice and subtle. On the palate it was full bodied with firm tannins and a long finish, a very classic barolo with a fruity, chocolatey flavour. This young Barolo will improve. It was C$71, but I have a hunch you can get this cheaper - if you can, it is probably a good buy in my opinion. RP-91.


The warmup wine was the 2000 Chateau Bouscasse Vielles Vignes from Madiran. I love Madiran, and I love the Alain Brumont - winemaker for both Chateau Bouscasse and Chateau Montus. A perfect lead in to our tasting!

Age? While not nearly as linear as last year's Barolo tasting, three of the top four wines were also the oldest. The long decant may have improved the ratings for the younger wines slightly, but not much.

Overall a great, but expensive, evening! Time for a Barbaresco night?


Anonymous said...

Joe - Great baroloblog, thnx. What were the blind numbers of each of these?? For anyone who's interested, McArthur in DC has the '97 Parusso Piccolo Vigne for US$50, worth detouring if you're in that 'hood. My bet is that from 2010-2030, the Sandrone Boschis (I own the 2000, Chris, not the 2001), will beat all comers; the '97 I tasted in Italy this summer was simply the best wine I've tasted to-date...SAQ still has the '99 Sandrone Le Vigne for C$137...worth considering at next sale!

Joe said...

Lloyd - the wines were served in the following order: #1 1999 Marchesi, #2 1999 Paolo Scavino, #3 Sandrone, #4 Fontanafredda, #5 Massolino, #6 Parusso. Definitely consider the le vigne on sale.