2001 Barolo and Barbaresco tasting N.Y.C. (Double-Blind)

Another in what promises to be a long list of 2001 Barolo and Barbaresco tastings. The best part… We did it double blind. Only one member knew the full list of bottles (and it wasn’t me). They were bagged and numbered. Each bottle was opened at 12 noon, double decanted and left in bottle until 7:30 - 8:00 when we started tasting. Food was served between flights, which kept our palates fresh.

You may notice that this tasting is named 2001 Piedmont Retrospective, part 1 (instead of Barolo Retrospective). Two things, first that five of the wines were Barbaresco (two of my top three were Barbaresco). And Part 1, because we plan to do a second tasting that will cover the communes that we weren’t able to taste this night.

A few general impressions:
2001 is truly a classic vintage. The wines show great concentration mixed with firm, yet fine structure. The aromatics are amazing and these have so much potential that will truly show once their structure allows the palate to catch up to the nose. I honestly can’t wait for part 2 of this tasting.

And so I present: The V.I.P. Table: 2001 Piedmont Retrospective, part 1

That one is the best wine I’ve ever had, period. I am so relieved to find that it was your WOTY, cuz if I thought there was something BETTER, I’d be dipping into an IRA or something.

I had a similar bad experience with 1999 Domenico Clerico per christina which showed a lot of VA and a structure that was unpleasant to say the least. Well, It was undrinkable. And this bottles had optimal cellaring done since release.

And the best part is that, since it was done double-blind, I don’t need to wonder if the label had anything to do with my decision.

Eric - great notes, sorry i wasnt able to make the tasting. glad to see the strong performance from many of the wines. very odd impression from the g. rinaldi, those are usually among the most traditionally made wines from the piedmont and take years to show anything. but the bottle tells the truth, especially when double blind!

the monprivato looked like it didnt show very well, which is too bad - the only bottle ive had, not long after release, was incredible. but not a huge surprise - his wines can go dumb for a long long time before emerging with glory years later…

Great write-up as usual, Eric. Love the bottle shots too.

I was the guy who knew all the wines (and organized the flights), but at my age, after a few tastes, I forget, so it was pretty much blind for me too. [wink.gif]

I really enjoyed every wine in the first flight. I liked the PdB Rabaja more than Eric, and the Giacosa Asili was my WOTN for drinking tonight. Don’t get me wrong, the Giacosa Rabaja Riserva is a monumental wine, but for me this night it was more about potential. I found the Asili to be exotic and flamboyant on this evening. The Giacosa SS is also a very serious wine with a long future ahead.

Probably my biggest disagreement with Eric (and a number of others) was the Rinaldi. I thought it was spectacular. Earthy with that exotic sweet red fruit I usually associate with Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (which I would have loved to compare, but it was corked [cry.gif] ). Then it (the Rinaldi) had this ferocious tannic streak and great length. It did have some VA, but not enough to bother me.

It worked out well to have the 3 Cavallottos together in the last flight. The style of this winemaker is quite distinctive and several tasters picked up on the similarity of these wines. What makes these wines so distinctive is that everything at Cavallotto is very traditional except they use a rotofermentor! This yields wines that are quite traditional in flavor (e.g. no oak), but they have an unusually silky texture and tend to drink well at a much younger age. This worked particularly well in the last flight as people’s palate’s may have become a bit fatigued. The one unfortunate consequence is that it put the Monprivato in a poor light. It is a totally traditionally made wine which means it is still quite young, yet (almost unique to Mauro’s wines) still rather delicate. In 10 years, I predict the Monprivato will put on a great deal of weight and ultimately blow the Cavallottos out of the water. But for now, the Cavallottos are a great value and delicious to drink.

Great notes Eric. Thanks to you and ken for helping me learn more about Nebbiolo through great posts like these.

Likewise, many thanks Eric. Ever since having a Gaja Sori Tildin and a fascinating Mascarello Cascina Francia this year, my interest in Nebiollo has really been piqued. I’d love to replicate a similar tasting to get my feet wet.


Although I didn’t get acetone, I also had an undrinkable '99 Percristina that I wrote about here recently. I chalked its horribleness up to a ridiculously excessive new oak regimen, but I was never entirely comfortable with that diagnosis. Whatever went wrong, the wine was wretched.

Thanks Ken. I tried to include some of the alternate points of view in the flight descriptions. But at the same time, I work hard to tune out the chatter around the table while forming my thoughts on a wine. It’s interesting, say with the G. Rinaldi, that by itself I might have looked past some of its faults. One thing that I don’t like about large tastings is that I always feel rushed.

The thing that amazed me the most, was the difference of opinion with the Asili, as it fell flat on me. A good wine but not great IMHO. I guess I look for more energy on the palate in a young wine. As for the Produttori Rabaja, the last time I tasted it (about 3 years ago), I thought it was amazing. Here’s to hoping for the passing of dumb phases.

I guess we’ll find out more when we do the 20th anniversary tasting of 2001 Barolo, in 2021.

PS: Let me know when you put your tasting up so I can link to it, and If you want any pictures, just let me know.

Thanks Steve & Faryan

That’s the same way I got into Barolo. Listening to guys like Ken, and Greg dal Piaz certainly pointed me in the right direction.

Only when it comes to Barolo. In any other area of life, it can only get you into trouble. [snort.gif]

You mean like…1103 Fortran’s code of the infinite? neener

Can’t be that bad. You seem like a pretty happy guy with a nice wine cellar

Who says getting into trouble and being happy are mutually exclusive? [stirthepothal.gif] [highfive.gif] [drinkers.gif] [wink.gif]

I’d like to RSVP for this right now. [wow.gif]

As I have written elsewhere - Great notes Eric. I really enjoyed reading them. As was adressed on AG’s forum it is a bit worrying with all these less than ideal showings for the 01 B&Bs. Personally I have not been drinking a lot of 2001 as I just leave them sleeping in the cellar. But recent bottles of Altare Barolo Brunate and Arborina 2001 were incredible Nebbiolo Junkie: Altare Dinner with Silvia Altare

And so was a bottle of Barolo Cascina Francia 2001 that we shared with Roberto Conterno:

I don’t think it would be an issue to talk about (here) what Antonio had mentioned in the other forum.

Basically, Antonio has stated that, in his tastings for his own 2001 Barolo and Barbaresco article, he had found an alarmingly large amount of bottles that suffered from faulty corks. And that he believed some of what we are seeing in these poor performances, may be the result of poor corks used throughout the region in 2001.

I have not opened many 2001s, but my three experiences with Elio Grasso’s Ginestra Casa Mate have me worried (at least about the three remaining bottles of this wine in my cellar). First bottle opened shortly after release was magnificent for a young Barolo. It’s the wine that hooked me on Nebbiolo. Two bottles opened over the past year and a half have been hollow shells of the first: muted aromas and flavors and lacking vibrancy. I’m no expert on how faulty corks affect wines, so I can’t say whether the difference between the bottles might be attributable to that.


I hadn’t heard about this issue with the corks. I haven’t really been doing much with my 2001’s yet, but maybe I will sample a few soon to see what I think.