Barolo help!

I opened an 07 Marcarini La Serra last night that was delicious, even to my not-particularly-Barolo-loving friends. It’s a very feminine style, with lots of perfume and less weight than some, but yummy. I see it’s available for $35 in Portland. (For some reason, it runs $42-$52 back here.) I’d highly recommend it as a starting point. It’s genuine stuff, and reflects its terroir in La Morra, where the wines tend to be lighter on their feet than some other parts of the appellation. Marcarini’s wines have a good track record of aging gracefully and fleshing out with time.

Nonsense. I had a 1989 Conterno Cascina that was rocking with 30 min in the decanter (not that I wouldn’t have preferred a night of slow O). An 1989 Produttori Ovello was in excellent form with 2 hours in a decanter. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bottle that was shut down at 20 years after the vintage.

Well, I’m not John but I think what he may be implying is that '89 is a vintage that in many cases will still get better, so it can pay to wait. For example, the '89 Giacosa Rionda Riserva, while admittedly a beeyootiful wine right now, will also (inarguably, at least to my palate) be much better (and begin approaching the superlative '78) with another 10 years of age.

So while you can have and enjoy an '89 right now, the odds are also pretty good at the higher end that you might enjoy it more in another 5-10 years. I also think quite highly of the '90 vintage, but I believe these wines are more comfortably in their respective drinking windows than the '89’s are. That said, everyone’s tastes are ultimately individual in terms of when they like to drink a wine, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting to pull corks on their '89’s right now.

Bob, you do realize, do you not, that, according to one prominent critic and Ken V., the highlighted parenthetical is heresy of sorts? [stirthepothal.gif] I happen to agree with you. That the 1989 Rionda Riserva has always drunk well, especially by 1989 vintage standards, is by no means the only yardstick in play. While each Giacosa wine deserves to stand on hits own merits, I see no evidence that his 1989s belong in the same room with his across-the-board brilliant 1978s at the moment. I own both vintages, and, like you, I am not in the least pessimistic about the future of his 1989s, but given how long it took for so many 1978s to sing (Giacosa’s, Gaja’s and many others), I am loathe to believe that we can take the full measure of the vintage today…

Actually, I think part of the comparison between the '78 & '89 Rionda Riservas is more in how Ken approaches a wine. Ken strikes me as a very thoughtful taster, and he is trying to see what he thinks about a wine’s ultimate quality. I have been with him on at least two occasions where we had these wines, and in those two cases (if memory serves) he gave the '89 Rionda 99 points and 102 points. Yet I also believe that if you were to ask him which wine drank better that night, in both cases he would have said the '78. Ken approaches wine like a wine critic might, and I think what he believes is that ultimately the '89 will be the superior wine, but I think for drinking right now, he would still prefer the '78 (and if my take on this is wrong, hopefully Ken will pop in here and set the record straight).

BTW, sorry for the somewhat geeky digression into nebbiolo esoterica - Rachel, re: your question on nebbiolo in the $40-50 range, as someone has already suggested, the various Crus of Produttori are right in that range, are true to their type and really represent excellent QPR for the Barbaresco zona.

I think the best way to sample them is to buy a representative selection across their releases. I believe the 2005 vintage is currently available, and it’s nice to pick up bottles from, say, Asili, Rabaja, Moccagatta and Ovello as just suggested starting points to see how you like the different vineyard sites as the wines mature. I often think that Ovello may be the most underrated cru they make, but in most vintages you really can’t go too wrong by buying a number of the vineyards to do side-by-sides as the wines mature.