Tag Archives: Barolo

Taking a look at the Lauded 2004 Barolo Vintage … A Wicked Retrospective

23 Jul

2004 Barolo 10 years on Retrospective photo by Paul Kaan

Barolo has undergone a revolution of the last few decades. One that we’ve seen occur across many of the great wine regions of the world. Think Burgundy, Tuscany and even Australia. It’s a cycle where tradition gets overtaken by technology and often ends up with those craftsmen who tend vines and make wine finding a balance between the two employing more restraint to let fruit shine and using artefacts like oak only to layer in complexity not dominate a wine.

Clearly there’s personal preference and market driven style decision to consider. Some people like a balls and all red loaded with tree branches. Personally I’ll stick to the former, the zone where wines of intrigue and personality rest!

Anthony D’Anna’s 2004 Barolo Retrospective demonstrated this perfectly with wines from both sides of the coin.

Beyond that it gave us a chance to see how the vintage was holding up. The consensus, blood well, with some ones entering the drinking window and others still a few years away. The more I drink Barolo the more I tend to think waiting 10 years is a minimum and drinking good ones between 15-20 years of age is a good rule of thumb. Scroll on to ready the wine list and reviews.

2004 Barolo 10 years on Retrospective photo by Paul Kaan

2004: CREAM RISES TO THE TOP – Notes below by Antonio GalloniThe

2004 Growing Season and Wines

One of the key attributes of 2004 is that both quality and yields are high, two characteristics that don’t always go hand in hand. After the torrid 2003, during which the vines ceased vegetative development in order to conserve energy, the more temperate conditions of 2004 led plants to unleash all of their stored energy, which in turn produced a large crop. Diligent growers reported making several passes in the vineyard in an attempt to restrict yields, but there is only a certain amount man can impose on nature. A few wines have put on additional weight in bottle, but those are largely Barolos that already hinted at considerable volume when they were younger. I was also deeply impressed with a handful of entry-level Barolos from top growers that showed far better than I would have ever expected. So much of the wine world revolves around the importance of vintages, yet I continue to believe consumers are often best served by focusing on producer first.

What Am I Looking For at Ten Years?

All things considered, though, the 2004s have aged spectacularly well. At the ten-year mark, I am looking closely at how wines are developing, specifically if the elements in a wine are aging at the same pace, which I consider absolutely essential. In other words, are the aromatics, fruit and overall structural profile in-line, or not? This is the eighth comprehensive Barolo retrospective I have done. Of the four vintages I have covered at the ten year mark, 2004 clearly surpasses 2000, 2001 and 2003 in both overall quality and consistency. That applies to 1999 as well, although I tasted those wines at ages seven and fourteen. The pure thrill in revisiting these wines is only equaled by the same level of excitement I felt when tasting through the 1989s and 1990s a few years back. In present day terms, 2004 is similar to 2008 in style, as the wines are perfumed and graceful, and also (with a few exceptions) much less imposing in tannin than either 2006 or 2010, the two powerhouse vintages of the decade. I expect the 2004s will age beautifully for years to come. In general, the wines will open up at a younger age than the 2006s and 2010s and are likely to fade a bit earlier too, although that is of course in relative terms, as Barolo is a long-term ager compared to most of the world’s red wines.

2004 Barolo Festa – The Good!

Make sure you turn up the volume … the tunes are a part of the wine review!

A video posted by Paul Kaan (@paolovino) on

Cavallotto Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe – Stunning perfume sappy herbs great mid palate. Stunning balance. Needs time to open. Closed nose. Core of fruit on palate. Big front mid palate oak.

Bartolo Mascarello*Wine of the Night* Made from fruit from Cannubi, San Lorenzo, Rué & Rocche. Beautiful secondary development, oppulence, great tannin balance, even long, incredibly rich, poised violets, yumminess. Stunnning. Second time I’ve had this in the last 12 months. Both bottles were superb!

Capellano – Closed looking an edge reduced and meaty. Good length most developed feeling a little hot. Opened and blossomed in the glass.

Massolino Barolo – VA lift. Lots of Secondaries. Tight angular hot alcohol. Beautiful core of fresh fruit.

Massolino Dieci Anni Vigna Rionda Riserva – Jumping out of the glass, vibrant fruit, secondary development. Beautifully layered. Great length of fruit wee hump of tannin mid palate. Lovely acid. Held back by the winery for 10 years before release.

2004 Barolo Festa – The Ugly! OTT Oakey Ones!

Make sure you turn up the volume … the tunes are a part of the wine review!

A video posted by Paul Kaan (@paolovino) on

2004 Baroli Festa! The UGLY! All of these wines tended toward the OTT modernist style with lashings of coarse oak masking what was often an incredible core of delicious fruit. Creating unnecessary angularity and harshness! Great learnings to see them side by side with a number of other wines that got it right.

Poderi Luigi Einaudi Cannubi – Resinous sappy pulling a little short. Again developing well. Sappiness comes through on the palate. Front palate new oak dissruptive.

Elio Grasso Runcot Riserva – Stunning perfume & lift layered with fresh fruit & flowers, unfortunately masked by coarse oak. Searing acidity, edgy mid palate tannin that’s a little too hard. Asking for a little fatty food to enhance it. Heap of oak. Tough wine. Why did they throw this many trees at it! It could have been superb had a little restraint been shown!

Sandrone Le Vigne – Cooked over ripe jammy. Hard oak tannin coarse. Unyielding. Barossa of Barolo. Tough wine.

Azelia San Rocco & Bricco Fiasco – were just that! Oaky sappy hot alcoholic. Unexpressive. OTT WTF? Potential tainted.

Rocche Castamagna, Rocche dell’Annunziata – Boring, cooked out of balance.

Clerico Pajana WTF pushing the boundaries. OTT too much oak.

What can you learn from tasting 14 x 1988 1989 1990 Baroli from the best producers?

21 Apr

1988 1989 1990 Barolo Dinner by Paul Kaan

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1988, 1989 & 1990 are referred to by many as the years that made Barolo, starting it’s astronomic rise to celebrity status amongst the greatest wines of the world. Once again Anthony D’Anna has scoured the cellars of Barolo to source 14 of the most celebrated Crus from these three vintages. Rare does not even begin to describe “drinkings” like these. You don’t taste these wines, you devour them, they are meant to be enjoyed with delicious food and good friends. When I first found out that I had a ticket to this event I had goosebumps and the very thought of the pleasure that awaited me!

1988 1989 1990 Barolo Dinner by Paul Kaan

Themes have started to come together over the last few “Il Vino da Tavola” dinners. Bottle condition, corks, old world vs new, oak, acid, restraint, oppulence, the hand of the maker, drinking windows.

What’s the difference between Great wine & Mind-Blowing wine, wines that scream DRINK ME?

Perhaps the most important question to answer from the night. I sought to assess these wines at the extreme level of excellence and differentiate between stunning and mind blowing. There were a couple of wines that I’d happily devour every night of the week and twice on Sunday, yet, amongst this company they were lost.

So what, was the difference between those wines that shone and those that whilst excellent didn’t make the cut on the night? I was looking for an edge more, that extra layer of complexity, harmony, seamlessness, wines that screamed DRINK ME! That rare ability to caress your tongue with a divine texture. The wine version of the renaissance man! I saw it in the Cicala, Mofortino, Voerzio’s and Grasso, hidden under some Brett in the Gigi Rosso. So very close to being there in the Vietti’s. I’ve seen it in the past in the wines of Bartolo Mascarello.  A core of incredible fruit wrapped in so many layers of yumminess and intrigue, that you can’t help but go back for more!

At a purist level, I just wanted the extra nuances that take it to the ultimate level. It felt like the wines that didn’t quite get there had seen some overt intervention, holding them back from being a true expression of site.

To address the elephant in the room … Where does the line between being too technical in your assessment of wine and just calling a spade a spade rest?

If it’s bretty enough to detract from the aroma and give the wine a hard finish it’s bretty. If the fruit has been dulled through oxidation, well, you guessed it, it’s oxidized! I’ll call the spade a spade. If a fault stops a site expressing it’s true personality then it hasn’t enhanced the wine, it’s detracted from it.

Tonight, there we wines that had faults that detracted from their expression. It’s a shame that wines of such great quality haven’t reach their potential. They weren’t terminal, but, they weren’t the best examples.

How old is too old?

The ultimate rule for wine applies here … call the wine, not the maker, not the region, not the vintage. The Gaja’s had years left in them, as did the Voerzio. The Vietti’s, Monfortino, Grasso, Gigi, Aldo Contertno’s good to go now. Fantana, Borgogno over the hill. As a generalisation, increasingly I’m getting the sense that 15-20 years is a good window with the caveat that you still need to play the wine, try a bottle after 5 years and give yourself a feel for when to try it next. This leads to the next question …

How much difference does provenance make?

Provenance is the cellaring history of the wine. Has it been stored under optimal conditions or not? The sense around the table was that a few of the wines hadn’t been stored well. The Monfortino and the Grasso were the two wines that stood out as perhaps not showing as well as they might have, potentially due to storage. The Monfortino, at close to $1,000 a bottle looked like it had seen some heat, now that hurts! Finding these wines, putting a collection like this together alone is a challenge guaranteeing provenance without source direct from the winery is near impossible.

Rusty tap water! Does colour really matter?

Simply stated … NO! As far as I’m concerned blind fold me. I just don’t care! Give me bags of aroma, flavour, texture and personality and I’m a happy fella! The Nerello Mascalese from Etna and the Barbaresco and Barolo from Piedmont are often pale, they can look insipid, at the same time they are some of the most intriguing wines with incredible personalities.

The Wines on the night.

GIACOMO CONTERNO – Monforte Monfortino 1988 Barolo Riserva

Incredibly rich, ripe, complex wine with layers of flavour and bags of aroma. A little VA lift, great savouriness. Soft and supple. This bottle wasn’t in the greatest condition, appeared a little heat affected. Will have to try another to confirm!

PODERI ALDO CONTERNO – Monforte Bussia Cicala 1988 Barolo

Loved the acid drive of Cicala, beautifully structured with fine tannin. A stunning perfume, incredibly elegant feminine Barolo, layered with savoury goodness.

1988 Giacomo Conterno Monfotino 1988 Aldo Conterno Cicala Barolo by Paul Kaan

ANGELO GAJA -Barbaresco- Sperss 1989 Barolo

The Sperss showed the balance of oak and oak tannin, fruit and acid that I was looking for in the younger of the 5 Decades of Gaja Barbaresco we drank a month ago, but, did not find until we reached 2011. Incredible perfume, core of fruit. The Gaja’s were some of the most youthful wines on the night. Great, clarity, freshness and a colour that suggest a little more than Nebbiolo was in the mix. I’d have loved just an extra bit of restraint in the oak handling to allow the site to shine a little more, rather than the hand of the maker. Now classified as a Langhe, not a Barolo, due to incorporation of around 3% of Barbera.

ROBERTO VOERZIO -La Morra- La Serra 1989 Barolo

Voerzio’s La Serra was one of the wines of the night. Complete, full and round, harmony, complexity balance. An expression of a special site.

1989 Angelo Gaja Sperss Barolo 1989 Roberto Voerzio La Serra Barolo by Paul Kaan

ANGELO GAJA -Barbaresco- Sperss 1990 Barolo

Just like the ’89, incredibly youthful. True to the Sperss style of the ’89 with that slightly overt oak. It was pulling short initially, openned to show a lovely perfume.

ETTORE FONTANA Castiglione F. Barolo 1990

Dried out and thin. Well past it’s prime. The colour of this wine was like a pale Rosé.

GIGI ROSSO -Castiglione F.- Sori Ulivo 1990 Barolo Ris. Baj

This could have been wine of the night bar the Brettanomyces! Incredible core of fruit, masked, by a little to much Brett. You could see what was underneath it. So much potential lost!

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ROBERTO VOERZIO -La Morra- La serra 1990 Barolo

As with the ’89, this was look fresh, opulent, refined and elegant. Oak structure was there, yet, not over the top. Like the Conterno’s it had a great acid drive and a beautifully even structure. There was incredible pleasure to be derived from this wine.

ELIO GRASSO -Monforte- Ginestra Casa Mate’ 1990 Barolo

Brooding, opened up beautifully. Would have loved an edge more acid, a personal thing really. Rich wine with incredible complexity. The 2004 was my Wine of Night at a Monforte dinner a year ago. Stunning wine. Would have loved to see it 5 years ago.

PODERI ALDO CONTERNO Monforte Bussia 1990 Barolo

An edge corked, looking flatter and less vibrant than expected. Would still drink it every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Again and again Aldo Conterno comes up with the goods! His wines are refined, sophisticated creatures, with so many layers of yumminess.

1990 Aldo Conterno Barolo 1990 Elio Grasso Ginestra Casa Mate' 1990 Roberto Voerzio La Serra by Paul Kaan

PIO CESARE -Alba- Ornato 1990 Barolo

Massive oak, with huge mid-palate structure and fruit with a silvery line of bitterness that worked well with food. Drunk by itself I’d probably have rated this wine higher. In comparison with the better wines on the night it lacked the layers and complexity.

GIACOMO BORGOGNO E F. -Barolo- Barolo 1990

Wild wine! Out of control, oxidised and hard. True to the Borgogno style it was an animal, savoury and rough around the edges, blood like saltiness, almost vegemite.

1990 Pio Cesare Ornato Barolo 1990 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo by Paul Kaan

VIETTI -Castiglione F.- Lazzarito 1990 Barolo

Finishing with two Vietti’s was a conflicting moment for me. I visited the winery back in 2005 and have a soft spot for the people and their wines. The following comments need to be put in context. Both wines were sensational examples of Baroli. On this night I sought to assess wines at the extreme level of excellence and differentiate between stunning and mind blowing. If I’d happily rave about the Pio Cesare Ornato on it’s own, I’d by rolling around the floor drink these bad boys. Vietti have exceptional sites and great fruit. I was looking for an edge more, that extra layer of complexity I saw in the Cicala, Mofortino and Voerzio. I felt that these wines had seen some intervention, holding them back from being a true expression of site. The Lazzarito appeared rounder, slightly broader. I feel like a bit of a hard ass. This was a great wine, again at a purist level, I just wanted the extra nuances that take it to the ultimate level.

VIETTI -Castiglione F.- Rocche 1990 Barolo

The Rocche stepped it up, the structure, acid and refinement, gave it a level of finesse that appeals. The restraint it showed was impressive, with such a core of fruit. Again I’d happily drink both wines every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I’d like to see them both as wines direct from the cellar. Perhaps they would have showed better a few years ago. That said as with many of the great wines of the world, I feel that they would have only declined slightly after their peak and would continuing drinking well for some time. I need to look at more young Vietti to see the direction Luca is heading in … Technical vs Expression of Site vs Restraint!

1990 Vietti Rocche Barolo 1990 Vietti Lazzarito Barolo by Paul Kaan

FilthyGoodVino Wine Tip #1: The Wine Saver Smackdown Has Ended at a cost of $0 … Sorry Coravin!

12 Feb

FilthyGoodVino Wine Tip #1: The Wine Saver Smackdown Has Ended at a cost of $0 ... Sorry Coravin!

Filthy Good Vino wine tips are hear to help you get more from every bottle of Filth that you open. #1 is all about saving the leftovers at the end of a big night.

OK, gotta put the caveats on this statement. I’m talking about saving open bottles of wine at home, not, in a bar or restaurant. I’ve never tried a Coravin. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has.

As a winemaker, one of the ultimate rules is:

Make sure any vessel: tank, barrel, amphora, holding wine is full … no air in it … PERIOD!

Why?

Air Space = Oxygen

Oxygen = Oxidation

Oxidation =  Off Wine (Eventually)

No matter how hard you try to fill the air space in a tank with carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, if there’s a lot of air space in a tank oxygen will be in there. If the tanks full of wine there’s no room for air, and, therefore no room for oxygen.

Apply the same principle to your left over wine and you’re on a winner. Your leftovers will be in the best possible condition.

How? Simply collect a few small glass bottle: Airline wine bottles – 187ml, half wine bottles – 375ml, tonic water bottles – 330ml … tell me you don’t have any of those lying around by the time the G&T season hits, maple syrup bottles – 250ml, whatever you can get your hands on.

After you’ve cracked your bottle, carefully decant whatever your not going to drink straight into the appropriate sized bottle, filling it to the brim, seal it up with the lid and your done!

Even the most sensitive wine, like Pinot or old wines will benefit. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but, it’s not far from it!

I cracked this Roagna La Pira 1/2 bottle, chucked 1/2 in the glass & saved 1/2 for later! Took me a few days to get back to it and it was looking great!

The Filthiest “FilthyGoodVino” from 2013!

29 Dec

1971 Mouton-Rothschild Filthy Good Vino by Paul Kaan

2013 was filled with a bucket of Filthy Good Vino! Here’s a quick snap of a few!

What were your 2013 Filthy Good Vino highlights?

The Filthiest of Filthy Good Vino ~ Yummiest wine of the year goes to: 1971 Mouton-Rothschild

There was a heap of Filthy Good Burgundy & Barolo, but, Bordeaux pipped ’em, this was such an incredible wine, hard to go past.

Refined, elegant, incredible supple texture, layers of Yumminess, enchanting, true harmony. A Filthy Old Vino Thanks Dad. For the art lovers the label is a Kadinsky.

Runner up: 1994 Yarra Yering Pinot Noir

Blast from the past! Probably a bit sentimental. Bring it! Fabulous beast, Peter Wilson, you absolutely killed it with 1994 Yarra Yering Pinot 19yrs young. Loving the animal. Patience required to comprehend just how much evolution & refinement occurs with Yarra Yering wine over time. As a winemaker it does my head in! You try something, look at the wine over to five years, think you’ve got it sorted make changes in the vineyard & winery, then on it’s 19th B’day it freaks you out tells you it’s become a sophisticated adult & the zits have gone. It’s no longer a gangle creature working out how to use it’s arms & legs. It’s moving gracefully, caressing & enchanting all who sit for a moment in it’s company. 20 years to complete an experiment is a long time!

Best gear to knock back any old time ~ Filthy Now Vino: Gran Sasso Montepuliciano D’Abruzzo & Pippoli Aglianico for around Naples

For $10 to $15 your not going to get much more fun than these two babies! Great to have a different set of flavours dancing on your tongue. Wicked food wines. Go the Gran Sasso for the Pizza and Pippoli with a steak!

 

Filthiest Good White: It’s a Viognier Smackdown! 2003 Cuilleron Les Chaillet, Condireu vs 2001 YarraYering, Yarra Valley

Love the unctuous texture funk & spice in the Cuilleron. So pure with incredible personality. Acid driven style from Yarra Yering.

Fizzy Moment: Bollinger NV.

There was plenty of good bubbles, heap of vintage yuminess and grower Champagne, Larmandier Bernier stood out again! For fun and day to day yumminess Bollinger NV is punching above it’s weight.

Filthy Sticky Good Vino: 2003 Chateau Y’quem

Incredible balance, so many layers of yumminess and a flavour that just lingered FOREVER!

Ouch! FUCork Moment: 1973 Baileys Bundarra Bin 62 Hermitage & 1997 Wendouree Cabernet Malbec

What can you do! Bring on the Stelvin!

Respect for History, for Tradition, for Wisdom marked by Silver Hair. Bartolo Mascarello, Langhe, Barolo.

21 Feb

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Serendipity, well Twitter actually, delivered a new friend to my iPad. We share the common passions of Filthy Good Vino and Barolo. A tweet soon followed that included a link that took me to a Documentary on the Langhe.  The Langhe is a region of spectacular beauty in Piedmont, Northern Italy.  It is home to some of the great Artisans of the culinary world. Think unctuous cheeses, white truffles, in addition to being home to the Founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini. These are not producers of product by recipe on mass. They are custodians of land, animal and vine pursuing excellence in their chosen field.

The link took me to footage of one such custodian, Maria Teresa of Bartolo Mascarello, who shared her philosophy on the production of Barolo.  Made only from Nebbiolo grapes, Barolo at its best, is without question, one of the worlds most unique and greatest wines. Befitting wine of such calibre it is also one of the most challenging wines to produce. Bartolo Mascarello hold some of the most prized lands of the Langhe. Maria Teresa’s dedication, her sense of obligation, of duty to preserve the essence of these lands is clear.

Archival footage of her late father demonstrated wisdom that can only be earned by the passage of time and was marked by a head covered with silvery grey hair.  His clarity of thought and wry humour in pursuit of an authentic expression of his vines was unclouded by new winemaking technologies that have often confused the wines of others choosing to employ them in Barolo. It is interesting that so many of the great winemakers of the world reflect that it is just as critical to understand what not to do, as what to do, as you guide a grape from the vineyard to the bottle.

Although I have yet to taste the wines of Bartolo Mascarello, five peeps who live and breathe for the wines of Barolo, peeps, who combined have visited the Langhe on an enviable number of occasions, had only unanimous praise for the craft of Maria Teresa and the the exceptional expression of her wines. I can’t wait to try them!

If you enjoyed this snapshot of a Barolo custodian, check out the Langhe Doc for other stories of Langhe Artisans.