A few middle aged Nebbiolo

A simple dinner invite turned into a lovely evening of middle aged and older Barolo. A night during which the wine gods took pity on some old Barolo collectors. Take that as you please.

The original invite was for a free for all sort of evening, though with wines of a certain level, but in the end I was able to pair each of the wines with a fitting pairing. In all it was a night that was as instructive as it was hedonistic, a rare feat indeed!

We started of the evening with a trio of Cavallotto Barolos from 1978. I had the good fortune of amassing most of the bottlings from 1978 over the years, but had never found the “right” night. Well, hell, we had the 1978 Bricco Boschis Barolo Riserva on offer so I added the Barolo Riserva Speciale Bricco Boschis Vigna Punta Marcello and Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna Colle Sudovest. These are not getting any better of course. I’m glad I pulled the trigger because the three bottles together offered a rare deep dive into Bricco Boschis. In this barely ripe vintage the differences between the three wines were stark. The Bricco Boschis, a vineyard wide selection no doubt, was the simplest of the three, still fruity, but rather low in acid when compared to the other wines. High toned on the nose with classic limestone, mint, and herb notes. A great bottle with plenty of fruit, though it tapers off on the palate quite quickly. Obviously the least tannic of the trio.

The 2 reserves lacked some of the fruitiness and freshness of fruit of the base bottling, but made up for it with additional layers and more structural nuance. The Sud Ovest was the most delicate on the nose, with dusty soil tones, the classic medicinal herbal core, and a roasted meatiness. On the palate it was the lightest bodied of the trio with fine, tense, candied cherry fruit. Long and elegant with backplate weight coming from polymerized tannins that lended the wine some silkiness.

Finally the Punta Marcello, arguably the best plot on this hillside, showed as something even less ripe, stony and lean, showing smoky, strawberry fruit, smoother and richer, again from what remains of the tannins, even with a bit of a tannic bite. Less ripeness throughout with iodine and ink notes on the nose after the stinkiness of less than perfect submerged cap winemaking blew off.

This was what these nights is all about. These are not blow you away wines, nor are they super renowned and expensive, but together they offered what will probably be once in a lifetime tasting experience.

The next flight started with a 1985 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Sante Stefano Riserva which I paired with a 1985 Castello de Neive Barbaresco, which for me was the wine of the night. It was not the best wine of the night, but rather was the wine that we drank at it’s best moment. Bright red fruit on the nose along with some subtle soil tones, a hint of dried flowers and a little submerged cap dirtiness. In the mouth this was Very fine and terrific detail and purity to the slightly Jammy wild raspberry fruit. Light, almost perfectly resolved, long and very fine and silky, with a touch of citrus on the finale. Delicate, with lovely transparency. Just a delicious wine, so drinkable, glad I have one last bottle from a case bought on release!

The Giacosa was a different beast, more powerful, quite tannic still, and even though it enjoyed a 7 or 8 hour double decant it could of used much more. Still retaining very fine oak spice, along with nuances of leather and cured meat n the nose. Darker, more powerful and weightier on the palate, it remains quite structured with dark frutti del bosco and tobacco flavors. Air was kind here as this brightened up nicely over the course of the evening.

Our next pairing was a meeting of the Conterno brothers, 1990 Aldo Conterno Gran Bussia and 1990 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia. The Granbussia was a rich, powerful wine, deeply flavored with the earth and braised herbal notes that are so typical of Bussia. Deep and leathery, with dark fruit ivy and braised meat aromas lending complexity. It was perhaps a bit past peak int he flavor profile, but not structurally as this remained tannic, chewy and bright with both an intense, savory depth and a fine lemon peel note ont he finale.

In contrast, the Cascina Francia struck me as still youthful, with deep flavors and perfumes of leather, balsam, wild berry fruit and spicy soil notes. Bright, fresh, and transparent, with a sweetly fruited palate, yet abundant tannins. All in all with a tense, youthful feel. I’d loved this and thought it was terrific.

Our finale pairing came front he holy grail of Barolo Vineyards. We were very lucky to be sharing the 1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda Riserva along side the 1990 Massolino Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda. The Giacosa of course comes from a legendary series of wines, and this was certainly impressive, though still with more promise than performance on this occasion. Which is not to say that it was impressive. Deep and smoky on the nose, rich with aromas of stone, earth, black cherry, big botte, and ash, it was a joy to smell. On the palate it was rich, chewy, deep and powerful, with excellent persistence to medicinal, bitter cherry fruit. It was decidedly youthful and took a lot of air before the sweetness so typical of Giacosa emerged.

The Massolino offered another terrific expression of Vigna Rionda, totally Serralunga with its dark, mulberry tinged fruit, iron, earth, and powerful, austere tannins. Displaying gorgeous drive up front followed by deep black cherry fruit and those austere tannins, it was a mouthful, though certainly more open than the Giacosa. It has tons of life left, but is in a good spot today, the tannins not withstanding, and possibly a permanent feature of this wine.

Every wine showed well tonight, and for that we are all thankful! We had a terrific dinner which featured a Barolo marinated tritip served with fresh and sautéed mushrooms and a hint of palate brightening balsamic vinegar followed by reverse seared rib-eye served with crispy potatoes and roasted shallots. A delicious and fitting accompaniment for such a fine line-up of wines. Thanks to all who contributed and all who joined, and most of all to our gracious and generous host!


Wow, Greg… what a great set of notes that I can only dream of ever trying. Thanks for taking the time to share them.

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Thanks for sharing Greg. Much appreciated.


O my… Nothing better than a simple dinner turning in to something unique like this!

Thanks for the great write up and sharing your insights Greg! :wine_glass: