Catchup TNs: 5 Kings and a Queen

Ciao Berserkers,

If Barolo is the King of Wines and Wine of Kings, I guess that makes Barbaresco the Queen. Here are some recent TNs in order of age and not drinking.

  1. 2006 Produttori del Barbaresco normale. This is the second time I have tasted this wine, and I am pretty sure it is of the lot that has the Riserva juice blended in. This is a a good value and worth buying a case if you can. It is drinking nicely now, surprisingly, although it has much room for improvement with age. It is aromatic, with fresh red raspberry and cherry fruit, spice, some earth, some tobacco, and on the palate it is medium bodied, well balanced, silky tannin, and easy to gulp down. Grade: B+ for now with potential for more.

  2. 1996 Ceretto Barolo “Brunate”. With rack of lamb. A gorgeous Barolo with that indefinable sense of aristocracy I get with Ceretto’s Nebbiolo wines. Vivid cherry red color with no oranging yet. Intense nose of roses, violet, fresh and spicy raspberry and cherry fruit, primary, some red licorice too. On the palate it is lean and lithe, good acidity, red fruits, medium tannnins, long finish, delicious now but I think this wine has much more to give and will benefit from many more years cellaring. I want to say it’s about half way to peak, but that is my personal preference for older Barolo. It’s no crime to crack one now. Excellent Barolo. Grade: A- now, should be an easy A with more time.

  3. Right after the Ceretto we had the 1996 Vietti Barolo “Castiglione”. The Vietti also seems still young to me although further along than the Ceretto. It is less of a crime to crack this now although it too seems to have more to give. A brick red with oranging rim. More earthy in the nose, with underbrush, mushroom, red cherry and orange fruit, tobacco. On the palate it is full and rich if not quite as “pretty” and defined as the Ceretto, but still tasty, with light tannin and a medium finish. A satisfying Barolo. Grade: B+, maybe A- in the future.

  4. 1993 Tenuta Carretta “Cannubi”. Bought back in the day for $20. Jamie Biancamano set up an on line in which we had this wine, and I liked it so much I bought a case, with the intent to try one bottle every year around my birthday (Sept) and check it’s development over many years. I still have 2 or 3 left so I must have skipped a year or two. So thanks Jamie wherever you are.

Carretta was originally an arch traditional producer along the lines of Scarpa, Mascarello and Conterno. Wasserman loved their wine and he had a nice selection of Cannubi from them from 71, 78, 79 and 80, which to this day remain some of the greatest examples of Barolo and “Cannubi” I have tasted. Around the late 80’s or early 90’s the winery changed hands and the wines were then made in a more modern style, although they remain very fine. This 93 is old school in the sense that it was made in botti with no new oak.

The color is a light cherry red with some hints of orange at the rim, translucent and clear, bright and healthy, but mature. The nose is still quite complex, showing some orange peel now in addition to the original red raspberry/cherry fruit. Also smoke, red licorice and roses. On the palate it is still full of flavor, medium intense red and orange fruit, some earthiness, and a slightly high level of acidity which pulls the grade down a bit. Light tannins, a good Cannubi from a good, not great vintage. Grade: B+ for this bottle, although past bottles have rated an A-. Giving everything it has now, at least this bottle was.

  1. 1990 Renato Ratti Barolo “Marcenasco”. I TNed this wine a few months ago and this bottle was similar: awesome. First, a superb long cork that came out with a loud “pop”. Decanted about two hours before dinner and removed a good amount of sediment. We had this with my roast duck glazed with honey and soy sauce just last night.

Color: astonishing autumnal color that reminds me of New England during peak leaf season. Vibrant garnet/brick core running out to orange and then, at the rim, a thin line of glowing yellow, totally mature and totally healthy.

Nose: incense like in the Catholic church when all the candles are lit, “burning leaves in the fall”, roses, red licorice and tobacco, spicebox, amazingly complex yet seamless. Red fruits morphing to orange peel. Clove.

Palate: intense and very long lasting flavors and finish, lean and lithe, balanced like a light weight boxer, no fat, silky tannins, spicy orange and tangerine fruit. When you taste this wine after having a piece of duck breast you are immediately transported to Barolo Heaven, to Mount Olympus, to feast with the gods. An incredible combination.

The wine is totally mature, at least my bottles were, and a perfect storm of excellence in vintage, winery and vineyard. Grade: solid A/A+.

  1. 1985 Prunotto Barolo “Bussia”. Bought back in the day in Chicago, and FEDEXed to me when it was still legal to do so in DE. $25 or $30 was the “Ides of March sale” price from the Convito Italiano.

During this time period (60’s to 80’s) Prunotto was also an arch traditional producer making no concessions to “modernity” whatsoever, yet somehow making, IMHO, some of the greatest of all Barolo (Cannubi, Bussia) and Barbaresco (Montestefano, Rabaja) I have had the pleasure to drink. The winery was sold to the Antinori group in the 90’s and now is more modern styled.

This wine was decanted at bistro99 a few weeks ago to go with larry’s veal ragu over tagliatelle. A medium sediment was separated.

Color: vibrant brick red fading to orange at rim, with hints of yellow, healthy but mature.

Nose: explosive nose of a wonderful melange of raspberry/cherry fruit morphing to citrus/orange/dried orange, with spice, smoke, herb, truffle, anise, very complex, warm and enticing, ravishing.

Flavor: intense, powerful, spicy fruit, earth, underbrush, lean, perfect acidity, silky tannins, long finish, the essence of old school Barolo. All participants were in a state of shock at the power and grace of this wine. At it’s peak.

Grade: A+.

Ciao, dc.