Tag Archives: Barolo

Oddero’s Vigna Rionda 11 years on..

If you ask me, the Vigna Rionda is probably the best vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba, Barolo. However, you still need a skilled producer to make it justice. It is certainly not an easy wine, but one to be patient with and that is why most producers release it very late. Usually at its 10 years birthday and Oddero is no exception. We met up with them back in 2013 and you can read about our visit here.

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2005 Barolo “Vigna Rionda”, Oddero

As always less transparent with dense, ruby red colour.

The perfume is immediate, intense and compact with a noble combo of wood glue, dried flowers (lavendar, peony roses, lilies), bergamot, under vegetation, pine tree and exotic spices; mainly nutmeg and clove. Follow this wine for some hours, because it is rewarding. The terroir is very unique here and on the nose it is surprisingly much like the structured 2006 vintage.

On the palate there is gravel, earthy muchrooms and dry spices. It is compact, deep and well structured. The 2005 vintage is ok, but normally not for the long run: It was rainy and too little sun, so sometimes it lacks structure, fruit and can be perceived as diluted and unbalanced. This is far from dilution and it got pleanty of structure. However, tannins are still massive and it is not even near integrated either, so this will need plenty of more time in the cellar still. It may not be the most balanced wine and texture is displeasing, but I think it is rich offering a lot of terroir and the acidity is just enough to keep it fresh wrapping bergamot in the very dry finish. It is certainly not a main stream wine for the crowd, but it is from a very unique terroir. Open in 2022 is my educated guess after tasting wines from this vineyard. Tasted on the 2/12-2016.

91-92p

The 2006 pride of Paolo Scavino

We have met with the lovely Elisa Scavino a few times along the years and they have evolved in a fantastic direction by cutting down on new oak and keeping up their meticulous work set up by her great father, Enrico.

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2006 Barolo “Bric dël Fiasc”, Paolo Scavino

Colour is half-half transparent of red cerise core with glowingly blood orange outer parts.

Obvious oak notes still in here even after 10 years and I remember that they turned down this quite a bit back in 2008 which was a great decision. A very much boosted perfume of raspberry candy sweets, blossoming roses and minerals in here still. Be sure to let the wine stay in a decanter for about two hours to let its inner terroir slip through. As always, it is fresh and elegant with its personal deep minerals and clove-coated red fruit. However, tannins are not anywhere near finished. I guess that you have to wait as late as 2022 for this one to integrate fully.

90+p/100

2010 shines in Roagnas oldest vineyard

Roagna released their wines from the fabulous 2010 vintage in February including the langhe rosso. This wine is made of grapes selected from vines of which the youngest dates back to 1937! On Etna this is normal, in Burgundy uncommon, but in Barolo, it is truly rare. It is part of some of the oldest locations in Barolo and more precisely east of the Bricco Rocche di Castiglione-Falletto facing south-east in the blend zone and in the very heart of the Barolo area. The best grapes are extracted using the traditional submerged-cap method on the skins for three months.

DSC04702Roagna Barolo “Pira” vecchie viti

Andreas:

Pure and fresh red berries combined with some blueberries and boysenberries, but also orange peel, roses, fresh spices and slight herbal notes. The nose could have brought me to some of the top vineyards in burgundy.

On the palate the wine is all about balance and elegance. The acidity is amazing with mouth watering lime fruit, but still never dominant. The tannins are velvety but still have some grip. We find the same fresh multilayered fruit also on the palate.

Fresh finish leaving you thirsty for more.

The Roagna wines are often said to require long time for maturation. However, this wine is fantastic already now, but of course has a long life ahead.

96-97/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose emerges as truly special here and is refined and emerges very slowly in waves. Subtle beeswax, orange-peel, spices, ethereal and with an inner beautiful perfume that is quite intense and aristocratic but slow and incredibly complex.

On the palate, it is incredibly concentrated and very rich, but not heavy at all. Aromas of very deep minerals, anise seeds, tea and layers of pure, ripe black fruit; mainly blackberries and dark, peppery plums that dominates. The precision is stunning as is the harmony of core aromas that unites in a lovely finish with strikingly clean, fresh acidity and silky texture, framed by thick, chewy and super-ripe tannins. They steer the wine in a clear direction and elegant manner. Surprisingly, very approachable already now and the insane extraction just adds honest and true terroir. Just buy, if you still manage to find them. Already drinkable, but a guess is that it will be even better in some years.

96-97p/100

 

 

Giacomo Fenocchio – Respect for terroir and great balance

When we visited Piedmont in 2013 we had the pleasure of meeting up with Claudio Fenocchio, a humble and careful man who produces fantastic wine with great respect for tradition and terroir. We spent much of the time talking about different vineyards and how their characteristics affect the wines. Claudio knows his vineyards and their history extremely well and talks about them with great passion. Claudio emphasises that there are only two vineyards that are truly Bussia; Sottana and Soprana. From their home they have a truly amazing view of the area, with La Morra straight ahead, Barolo down to the right and further to the right we can see Castiglione-Falletto, starting with the Villero vineyard.

Claudio Fenocchio

Claudio Fenocchio

The estate was founded in 1864, has been in the family for 5 generations and is carrying the name of Giacomo Fenocchio, the father of Claudio, who headed the estate after the second world war and who acquired some of the vineyards that still are within the family. They have vineyards in Cannubi (approximately 40 year old vines), Bussia Sottana (25-40 year old) and Villero (appr. 65 year old).

As mentioned before the estate uses traditional methods, which includes long maceration, usage of indigenous yeast and maturation in large barrels (botti) to ensure no oak flavours make it into the wine.

Claudio Fenocchio

The wines we tasted

Bussia 2013 – from tank

This wine was of course way to young to be tested, but Claudio gave us the chance to taste the 2013 before malolactic fermentation. The acidity is very harsh at this point and it is more or less impossible to understand the potential of the wine. This was more in the department of education than a tasting 🙂

Bussia 2012 – from barrel

The vines are from the Sottana part of Bussia and of mixed ages, but on average approximately 30 years.

At the time of the tasting the wine was very closed and reduced, though there where signs of fresh red fruit, like raspberries and some orange peels.

The wine is quite harsh in the mouth and the acidity needs to stabilise before we get en proper impression of the wine. There are some balsamic notes, blood orange and ginger. Impressive concentration and a texture that already has fine and sandy tannins. Heavy, but of good quality.

More or less impossible, and not at all fair, to score at this time.

Claudio Fenocchio botti
2010 Cannubi – from barrel

From 40 year old vines.

The typical seductive, fragrant perfumes and beautiful rose petals. There are raspberries, some tobacco and the nose shows quite a lot of depth.

The acidity is rather sharp and direct but has a balsamic freshness and is very energetic. We also find fresh red fruit, wild strawberries, raspberries, ginger and some gravel. It is quite persistent and has an impressive balance already.

Texture is already fine sandy and tannins are thick, chewy and of good quality. Enormous potential. This wine needs time to integrate fully but will surely develop in to a wine with good structure and complexity.

92+p/100

2010 Villero – from barrel

From 65 year old vines.

The wine is slow to open up and is a bit reductive but after a while it develops a complex, deep and fresh nose. Fragrant, very delicate with fantastic details, showing both balsamic and floral notes. There are also raspberries and limestone minerals.

The acidity is better integrated than in the Cannubi. Again lots of red berries, distinct blood orange, very ripe, fresh and deep wild strawberries, ginger, nutmeg, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals. Coarse sandy texture and tannins are chewy, thick of high quality.

This is a feminine wine with lots of elegance and fragrance. We are very impressed.

94p/100

2010 Bussia – from barrel

Quite seductive perfumes and fragrant flowers. Super-fresh, ripe red fruit and hints of solvent. Fantastic nose which shows depth and lots of fruit.

Deeper and a bit earthier than the Villero, but still with the characteristic “Fenocchio freshness”. Ripe fruit, boysenberries, blood orange, iron, crushed stone, balsamic notes and herbs. Very balanced already, quite slim structure and persistence. Texture is already polished and tannins are chewy and of great quality.

The wine is very generous with lots of fruit, but it also has complexity, energy and depth.

95p/100

Summary

As always the wines of Fenocchio show great transparency and honesty that celebrate its terroir without adding anything else. In addition, they deliver great freshness, deep aromas and complexity. This was also our first taste of the 2010 vintage and it immediately showed great potential.

Another approachable barolo from Verduno

Usually, the blend from Verduno and more precisely from the well-known producer here, Burlotto, is best in warm vintages. We really liked the 2009 version so since 2011 is in general a more even one and less sweet than 2007, this is interesting.

DSC046852011 Barolo “Aclivi”, Burlotto

The nose starts out with the recognisable natural rubber, saline cherry stone, and dry licorice-root. Then turns ethereal with deep, complex inner perfume with a delightful twist of green curry and cumin. A very complex nose to be explored with plenty of pedigree from Verduno.

On the palate, the balsamic, cool and crisp acidity dominates and impresses with its freshness and approachability. Fruit is in the background now and a little smudgy, but it is from ripe, sweet, concentrated and earthy wild strawberries and cherries. Aromas of mainly dark, saline cherries, nutmeg, cinnamon and dry licorice-root. Texture is grainy and fine sandy now, but even though biting your cheeks, there are absolutely no edges and most importantly it is soft. However, it could be more generous and persistent.

A complex, soft and dense wine that is foremost crisp and soft. Obviously, best in a few years more. Ensure it is served at 18 °C (64°F).

92-93p/100

Another interesting Serralunga d’Alba barolo producer

We know several Conternos’ in Barolo, but we had never heard of Diego Conterno before, but their 2011 barolo is actually very good and simply adds to the quite long line that stands out in the 2011 vintage of traditional baroli from Monforte d’Alba in this case and its neighbouring area, Serralunga d’Alba. After a quick search on the net, it turns out that this is one of the cousins that started up the estate Conterno Fantino, who still makes overly modern and pointlessly, market-pleasing and insanely, oaky baroli had us worried at first, but fortunately this wine was no such wine. Diego and his son Stefano appear to be worshipping their lands and work traditionally including long extraction and neutral barrels; which is fine music to our ears as long as you do everything right in the vineyard and conduct meticulous selection of grapes. We just had to compare it to the fabulous vintage 2010 that is still around.

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2011 Barolo, DIego Conterno

Typical rubber rain coat on the nose, obvious glycerine, beeswax, Asian spices, nutmeg and subtle tar hits the nose directly after opening the bottle, but much later, after several hours of decanting, a complex, compelling and fragrant nose of rose petals, white lilies, cardamon and green curry arrives to the scene.

A fresh, balsamic acidity wrapping dried honey and minerals is very good in here and lifts it all. Sweet, racy and ripe blue- and red fruit, notes of newly cut ginger, anise seeds, fennel, cinnamon, and chalky, dark minerals infused with delicate metals. In addition, some pleasant notes of chewing tobacco as well. Still this is slender bodied, but with high concentration, authority and some precision. However, its backsides are tannins, even though they are smooth and soft, that appear somewhat separated from and outside of the rest and the fruit is unfortunately a little cooked in the heat and smudgy.

The nose on this wine alone is great and considering its youth, It has an unexpected elegancy and focus, but fruit is a little cooked and tannins not integrated well. Open now or wait until 2018 to let the tannins polymerise even more, but please be very observant to temperature; like many other barolo 2011s’, it surely needs its 18 degrees to show off its freshness.

90p-/100

2010 Barolo, Diego Conterno

On the nose, again, as with the 2011, glycerine, beeswax as well as obvious details and precision from dominating wild strawberries in this one, but the palate here also contains plum, blueberries and notes of blackberries. Some deep fruit and chalky minerals too, but overall the nose is overly subtle, less enchanting and subdued.

Very unexpectadily, it is diluted and volatile in an easy and perfect vintage. It is ok and price-worthy though and persistent. As expected, texture is better here than in 2011.

89p/100

 

Luigi Baudana impresses with its classic style in 2011

Vajra bought this traditional winery in 2009 and acquired great parcels in the vineyards Cerretta and Baudana of Serralunga d’Alba. This is the base barolo bearing the previous owners name “Liugi Baudana” on the labels and combines the calcareous minerality, elegancy and freshness of Cerretta with the structure, density and persistence of Baudana from younger vines compared to their single-vineyard siblings. Moreover, they are sold in half-bottles too which is a great if you intend to drink them soon and just want to enjoy a few glasses, which we certainly are. Approachable barolos are rare from this part of the Barolo area, but we have been especially impressed with barolos from Serralunga d’Alba in the very approachable vintage of 2011.

DSC046212011 Barolo, Luigi Baudana

Sir Galahad:

Glowing dark-red to blood orange, clean and dense colour with transparency.

A very dense and complex nose of pedigree with notes of worn leather, lavender and notes of rose petals. In addition, after one more hour; distinct violets, rose hip, mushrooms, some cinnamon cookies and some notion of metals as well, that just adds to the exiting complexity, emerges. A lovely lingering perfume and all together a quite deep and complex nose.

On the palate, it is racy, complex and dominated by dry lime- and mineral infused luscious fruit; dark cherries, tasty plums and black berries as well as spices, worn leather, anise seeds and crushed stone. The acidity is crisp and impressively fresh wrapping balsamic herbs, deep minerals, iron and dry grape juice. Then, slowly the very firm and thick Serralunga-tannins kick in, and with authority, but even though they are pleasantly chewy, they are still too rough and coarse. We sure lack precision and elegance, but it is generous, medium-bodied, well concentrated and persistent with the classic notion of austereness at the finish line.

An overall balanced, approachable, fresh and persistent Barolo with some complexity, but unfortunately framed in rough and coarse tannins. The texture is its obvious backside and elegance too, but It is still price-worthy at €27, but definitely not at the steal-level of the much better 2010 Vajra Albe. Enjoy with thick sauces, tenderloin and well butter-fried chanterelles or just truffle pecorino cheese. It might improve a little in the next two years, but probably not much.

90p/100

Andreas:

Incredibly dense nose with dark berries, rose petals, tar and tobacco but also strong notes of mushrooms and some under vegetation.

The acidity is direct and energetic but lacks some precision. Very good tannic structure that adds grip and never gets dry.

This is a transparent and honest Barolo with a rather masculine expression.

92p/100

Azelia makes a good margheria in 2011

DSC046192011 Azelia, Margheria

Transparent and lightly blood-orange colour with tints of orange-brown.

Very balsamically opulent and dense, but fresh nose with honey, notes of tar, tobacco, black pepper and sherry notes as well as some hours later; a subtle pretty perfume that is not so much about red flowers. Fine complexity lifted by skilful oak-treatment.

On the palate, distinct tar, obvious dry liquorice-root, some glycerin, fresh ginger, porto raisins, figs, notes of tar, chewing-tobacco. The blue- and black fruit is overly sweet. Unfortunately, texture is not great. In fact, tannins are somewhat edgy, grainy from oak and not ripe. Balance is good, but most importantly, the acidity is crisp (if given two hours of decanting that is) and vivid wrapping dry honey and metallic minerals as well as being impressively clean. It is concentrated and pliant with a slender body. The finish is quite long, but dry and currently it adds an unpleasant bleach coffee tone. This might be an effect of oak.

This wine is very forward, racy and generous, but its texture is under-performing by being overly fleshy and coarse and it is a little butterfingered we are afraid. Even so, it is somewhat saved by its clean and fresh acidity, enjoyable perfume and its overall complexity. Several 2011s are better altogether than anticipated and this is still one of them, but barely. It is drinkable now, but wait until 2017 to hopefully let the tannins ripen and settle much more.

91p/100

 

A very good representative of the warm 2011 vintage in Monforte, Barolo

The traditional producer Fratelli Alessandro is a great and honest one from Verduno in the most north-western part of Barolo and a little in the shadow of the better known Burlotto estate. The estate has been in the possession of the Alessandra family since 1870, but the winery dates back to the 1840’s. Here we taste their 2011 Gramolere which is not from Verduno, but Monforte d’Alba close by the more famous Santo Stefano di Perno vineyard. 2001 was the first time they started producing this single-vineyard bottling which is a Burgundy inspired change. However, this wine is from a very high, open and windy place at 425 m above sea-level, but still quite warm micro climate. Actually, Alessandro owns the best middle part with south-west exposition so a very interesting wine indeed. 2011 is a warm vintage so any wind is appreciated.

DSC045942011 Fratelli Alessandro, Barolo Gramolere

Totally transparent, glowingly blood orange with red purple nuances. Beautifully clean colour.

After some hours, the nose, still quite subtle, emerges with balsamically fresh Mediterranean herbs, glycerin, thyme, notes of leather, tar and after an hour there is a lovely perfume with rose petals and lilies. Great complex nose, but not immediately seductive in a good way.

The palate offers a high quality, balsamic acidity and it is generously succulent with overly, jammy sweet, but cool and ripe red fruits coated in fine crystalline minerals. It is pleasantly dominated by small, concentrated wild strawberries, but we also also find mulberries. Other aromas are blood orange, sweet liquorice, cinnamon and fennel. All these goodies are all framed in very smooth, soft and ripe tannins with fine sandy texture, almost velvety without any excessive dryness at all and the wine is very generously rich, pliant without any hardness or edges. Impressive tannin cut, polish and texture.

It is not as dense as expected and rather normal bodied in this warm vintage. Yes, its backside is its much overly sweetness, but not at the expense of a crispy, cool acidity and even though the label says 15% alcohol, this is not disturbing either. Actually, they rendered very ripe tannins by waiting some days here, obviously. A very price-worthy example of barolos representing this vintage well. It is very sensitive to temperature, so make sure to serve it no warmer than 18 ºC (64ºF). Drink now. It will not benefit from more ageing.

93p/100

 

Piedmont-Trip 2015: A great visit to the legendary estate Bartolo Mascarello

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Maria-Teresa with her father Bartolo

On a Saturday morning in May this year we had the pleasure of meeting up with Alan Emil Manley and the charming  and somewhat ingenious Maria-Teresa Mascarello, who is the daughter of Bartolo Mascarello. Alan is an American Barolo lover from Colorado, who has been working at Bartolo Mascarello for quite some time now. At our last visit we met with enologist Alessandro Bovio, but due to our limitations in Italian, we had difficulties in learning more about the estate. Therefore we were certainly more lucky this time, when Alan was around. It is no secret that we are true fans of Bartolo Mascarello and their wines are always a safe and great buy due to their consistency and quality.

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Hand-painted barolo of Bartolo

The cantina Bartolo Mascarello was founded by Bartolo’s grand father, Guilio, when he returned from WWI. Bartolo Mascarello, who left us in 2005, was the tenacious guerrilla warfare rebel or as he used to call himself and his gang, “the last of the mohicans” (including his fellows Beppe Rinaldi and Teobaldo Cappellano), when it came to protect tradition and important principles to render honest  and artisan wines without making any compromises to any international markets. An iconic and stubborn man of old school barolos that opposed any unnatural addition to wine making or adaptations in tough vintages, but relying on traditional best-practice. Among these principles was Bartolo’s strong belief that the best expression for a Barolo was to always blend different vineyards, since in his opinion no vineyard was equally good in each vintage. The cuvée in his case is a blend of four vineyards; Rué, San Lorenzo, Cannubi and Rocche dell’Annunziata, and it is still the only barolo they do here. A truly honest estate that with pride celebrates the unique and great expression of Barolo.

Bartolo is most famous for having made the special designed label “No barrique, no Berlusconi” on his bottles making it absolutely clear that he hated french barriques and was not the least in favour of Berlusconi. Two great evils in his world. Actually, Bartolo used to hand-paint the wine labels that today are heavily sought-after bottles at auctions around the world.

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The inner glass-lined concrete vats

After knocking on the easy to mis front door at Via Roma, 15, in heart of Barolo, we are welcomed by Alan and suddenly, Maria-Teresa arrives as well and she summarises their philosophy by saying, as Alan swiftly translates into English, that “they do not strive to create the perfect wine, instead their goal is to produce honest wines that reflect the expression of each specific vintage”. Therefore they make very few adaptations for any vintage. E.g. they use the same mix of grapes from the different vineyards for their Barolo. Actually, they don’t vinify them separately either like most vintners do and they always use all the press wine. No secondary pressing is conducted here. No fining or filtering either. They always age their wine for 32-34 months in old and neutral Slavonian oak barrels and they always bottle in August. They always use glass-lined concrete vats with a tiny top opening and Alan emphasises the importance of gentle fermentation that they achieve with concrete. They always use 5 ml of sulphur to protect the grapes, but no pesticides or chemicals is ever used in the vineyards except for copper sulphate to protect the leaves from attacks. In the vineyard, 11-12 shoot-outs are winter-pruned on each 110 cm cain from each root. They wave the tops during growing season to avoid cutting, since they believe it stresses the plants. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit any vineyards.

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Alan shows some of the collection in the cellar

Still they do make a few adaptions and one example of these is the extraction (maceration) period that varies depending mostly on tannin quality to extract more colour and terroir-specific characteristics from the grapes. However, Alan says that in general it is between 30-35 days. While the warm, approachable and short-cycled vintage of 2011 vintage only endured for 32 days. the alike 2009 got 35, but the cold, classic and very long-cycled 2010 vintage went on for 56 days which is the longest in their history. Pump over is done twice a day, but after fermentation is final, they continue extraction on the skins using the traditional method with submerged caps. At this stage, they fill up the tank and leave half of the top opening space to let carbon dioxide go out, but avoid oxygen to get in. Alan points out that he can judge how much air is needed by inspecting the colour. As he puts it, if it is beaujolais, then I add more air, but I need to be careful since it is by then in a very reactive state. Malo is carried out in wood and they rack just a few times.

As we leave the concrete tanks and head for the ageing part of the cellar, Alan show us some really old bottles. Some from the 30’s, 40’s as well as obvious great vintages like 1947, 1955, 1958, etc. With a grin, he says that unfortunately they are not for sale. He says that he has put some work into organising the cellar a lot some years back.

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The cellar with traditional and neutral Slavonian oak barrels

The 2015 vintage is the first vintage when Alan has been granted the opportunity to lead the work in the cellar. Even though he is very excited about this, he admits that it is a little stressful too. He wants to make them proud and not do any mistakes.

During the visit we also learned that their Langhe Nebbiolo, which is made from their younger vines, from the 2013 vintage in addition, includes grapes bought from a grower in Treiso, Barbaresco. It is a vineyard called San Roccá Suo d’Elvia. This should increase the volumes of today’s about 30,000 bottles a year some more. This incredibly low production is the reason why bottles have been so hard to find in the market.

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Frederik, Maria-Teresa and Andreas

The wines we tasted

2013 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto d’Alba

Their Dolcetto is mainly on the northern parts of the vineyards Rue and Monrobiolo della Bussia since it will ripen almost anywhere, but here it gets right amount of sun. Alan comments that while it, in contrast to nebbiolo, grows easy, it is hard to vinify.

This is a Dolcetto that is not only about cherries and sharp red fruit. The wine also combines some earthy notes and a slightly tannic structure.

On the palate, the fruit is rather juicy and almost has a chewiness to it. A little classic bitterness, but fresh. The fruit is also well complemented by a fresh acidity.

This is a high quality Dolcetto with a great personality and balance.

88-89p/100

2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

Alan explains that 2011 had a burst of heat in April through easter and a very quick bud break. Then it got cooler until August, but from there much like the very hot 2003. However, in total it was not extreme, but certainly not classic.

The nose is mainly fruit-driven where red fruit dominates more than usual for a Mascarello where I usually find large amounts of dark fruit. There are fresh wild strawberries, raspberries, Asian spices and balsamic notes in this very seductive wine.

On the palate, the wine has juicy and mouthwatering fruit combined with a energetic and rather precise acidity. The tannins are present but not dominant and has a sweetness to them.

A very approachable Mascarello which is very generous and fresh but still with elegance.

93+p/100

Summary

The tasting this time was a little limited, but still a great visit and we learned several about their principles and vinification by the very engaged Alan. We will certainly be back again to check how they are doing in the very near future.

Earlier tastings of Barolos of Bartolo Mascarello can be found here.