Enough talk (1,2) about Barolo and Barbaresco, it is time to tell you how the tasting went.
So, was our group of five tasters, blinded, able to correctly divine the thread of terroir in this small selection of top Piemontese offerings? Well, no. In fact none of our group paired the two Barolos and two Barbarescos together, although two of us put the 1998 and 2000s together. (does vintage trump terroir in Piemonte?)
But there was no disappointment tonight, as we collectively enjoyed some tremendous wines:
On our left was the 2000 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis. A nose of sour cherries, vanilla and some metallic notes, the fruit turning darker as the wine opened up...but always delicate and light, somewhat reserved vs. other Sandrone Barolos I have tasted. Dry, sour cherries mingled with fine tannins on the palate - delicate and very well balanced, yet with tremendous length and presence. Such elegance could only be the product of Luciano Sandrone.
14.5% alcohol, Score: 18/20
The 1998 Marchesi di Barolo Sarmassa was a revelation. Enjoyed previously, but I didn't expect it to show so well amongst such illustrious peers. A nose of vanilla and black cherries, roses, a dash of black pepper and metallic notes (characteristic of both barolos tonight). Silky smooth with substantial tannins and a beautiful, never-ending finish. Bravo! (I thought it was a Barbaresco)
14.5% alcohol, Score: 18.5/20
Another terrific effort tonight was the 1998 Prunotto Barbaresco Bric Turot. Very flinty on the nose, with vanilla and cinnamon, some tar and black pepper ... late appearing notes of almonds and cooked cherries signalled an older wine. Very dry, with soft velvety tannins and a slight metallic aftertaste. A beautiful long finish, simply gorgeous, and very Barbaresco.
13.5% alcohol, Score: 18/20
The 2000 Moccagatta Barbaresco Bric Balin was the odd wine of the evening, and the only one everyone was completely wrong on. A stark nose - tarry, very tarry in fact, with noticeable oakiness, black earth, tobacco and cheese rind. While the first three wines were tremendously polished, the Moccagatta was tart, tannic and harsh, kinda "in your face". Crisp, with a very, very, long finish - it certainly has the acid and the tannins for aging - I think I will open my other bottle in another 10 years.
14% alcohol, Score: 17.5/20 So we didn't find terroir tonight, as the relative harshness of the Moccagatta screamed "young Barolo" and left everyone looking elsewhere for Barbaresco. Tonight I paired the 1998s and the 2000s together, which made me think that our research would have been better served by removing a variable and pouring wines from the same vintage...
Finally, I should mention the 2001 Pio Cesare Barbera "Fides" that served as our "starter wine" tonight, beautiful, as always (1,2).