2004 Barolo

In a thread on the Tanzer boards, D’Agata wrote:

“I’m not a huge fan of the 2004 vintage in Italy, and I know that goes countercurrent with what just everybody else out there has written. Simply put, I find it’s generally too hot a vintage and many wines (Barolo and Supertuscans included, for example) are overripe or dangerously close to that quality. I for one really do like the 2005 Barolos, for example, generally panned by many people except Steve, who knows better.”

I have not heard that opinion of the 2004 vintage in Piedmont, so I was wondering what others’ opinions might be.

2004 Barolo is pretty crappy right now, but was awesome when first released. They’ve since shut down HARD so it’s very difficult to get a positive read on them unless you consider what they were like at release and see the potential there. 2005 seems to be more approachable early.

Don’t think I’ve heard that view before but good for him for bucking the CW. Seriously bucking the CW! But it’s hard to see just how far he’s going since he only mentions Barolo and super Tuscans and only one other vintage in comparison. If he’s going to say that 2004 Brunellos, for example, are riper than 2006 and 2007, well, he’s definitely the first I’ve heard take that view. Same goes for Piedmont.

I think Ian really knows what he is doing, so I think it’s worth listening to him. His opinion was quite a bit longer than what Robert has quoted, but the quote is the essence. On the other hand, I thought the 04 piedmonte’s were delicious early, and I didn’t get a lot of over-ripeness. If they don’t last forever, I don’t really care as long as they come out of their closed in phase as charming as they went in.

He is entitled to his opinion but I would not agree with him. One bit.

I have tasted a cross-section of Piedmont and Tuscan wines from 2004 at release and they were gorgeous.

I’m reserving judgement on 04 as it has in general shut down, but it is a riper fruited vintage.
FWIW I really like the classic dusty tannin, acidic bite and refreshing nature of 2005, and some a drinking really beautifully right now.
Produttori Asili Riserva was singing when I tried a bottle with Aldo in London last October.

What about the hugely overrated and bastard hard as nails 96 vintage? [tease.gif]

I believe this is also Greg dal Piaz’s view of 04 in Piemonte.

I thought of Greg when I read the OP. Greg is a dear friend and we like a lot of the same producers, but not the same vintages. We agree that 1989 is great, but when we sat next to each other at a Produttori tasting, I was shocked that he liked the 1988s so much and disliked the 1985s. So it is always a matter of personal taste. For my taste, 2004 is a great vintage in Piedmonte. It has great structure and fruit and perfume.

As to the OP, I find any statement that talks about a vintage in all of Italy to be suspect. From Lombardy to Sicily and back to the Veneto, Italy is just way too diverse.

Agree it’s a matter of personal taste Ken, but might your judgment of 88 be at all influenced by the “underperformance” (to put it kindly) of a guy named Bruno? Maybe just a little?

I haven’t tried any of my 2004 Barolos so I can’t comment on that. I can comment on Tuscany where I think the 2004 vintage for Chianti Classico and Rufina is outstanding.


It’s interesting that there is so little unanimity on vintage assessment in a region as important as Piedmont (I.e. see 2000!). As I recall Antonio pulled back the reins a bit on his retrospective of the 2001 vintage a while back. I guess every vintage is subject to some revisionist perspective at some point along the way.

Is everyone on board with 1996 yet?

As to the 2004s, I didn’t taste them on release and they are resting comfortably in my cellar…what are we lemmings to do???

You just buy a bunch, store them away for 2 decades and let the chips fall where they may. The only Barolo I’m drinking before it’s 20th bday is '97, '98 and maybe '00. I own no '02 or '03, but just buy the standard guys in all good/great vintages and wait for that 20th bday year to see what I have.

I agree that '97 '98s are really delicious but still so primary.
The few 95s i tasted where beautiful and 96 needs alot of time imo.

…but just three more years (the 96s) to the 20 year rule? Of course they are the exception that proves the rule.

I recently had the '93 Giacosa Collina Rionda just short of its 20th, and it was really lovely within the context of its vintage limitatations.

I think the '96s will not follow the 20 year rule. Thinking they’re the 40 year rule!

I think fans of '96 (and there are many) have always hoped that the vintage will turn into a re-run of 1978, another hard as nails vintage on release that has blossomed into the quintessential Barolo vintage. In terms of it’s slowness to reveal it’s true glories, I’m not convinced that '99 is all that different from '96. I don’t know if guys like Ken V or Greg would agree with my next statement, but I think to some degree buying vintages like '96 or '99 when you are my age (mid-50’s) is somewhat of a gamble on continued good health.

On the other hand, vintages like 2001 and 1998 are more of a “sure thing” because I think both will be displaying their wares for all to appreciate by the time they are 20, and when I look at the calendar 2021 doesn’t seem so many birthdays away.

the '90 Giacosa Collina Rionda Riserva is stunning atm, last December had it side by side with some white label Barbarescos Gallina 95, Santo Stefano 2000, Asili 2001 and the 1990 was on a league of its own.

Agreed. I regret every single bottle of 96 i opened from my cellar.

Not at all. I have had some glorious bottles of his 1988 SSR (also many bad ones, but I believe that was a function of shipping and storage), and very good bottles of his Villero. In any case, this was based on multiple 1988 Produttori Riservas. They weren’t bad, but to me they were flat and dried out and boring.

My strategy as well. Although I don’t have many pre 04 Barolo so i’ll be waiting a while.