How to handle a 1970 Borgogno Barolo?

Inspired by this forum (and by the sommelier at Ristorante San Marco in Canelli) I have purchased a bottle of 1970 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo 1970, my first ever buy at an auction. I received the bottle December 19 and immediately put it upright in the wine fridge.

I would like to serve it at a dinner next Saturday (January 6th) but will keeping the bottle upright for two and a half weeks be enough to get the fine sediment to settle down?

Thanks in advance for any answer.

When I’m serving older wines in my tastings, I usually put the bottles upright a day or two before the tasting.

Long story short: yes.

Is the top of the capsule red or black?

The top of the capsule is red.

An old Barolo like this usually has very fine sediment that can take a long time to settle after a bumpy journey; it may be ok but it might not. Holding it over a strong light should give you an idea of how well the sediment has settled - the old Borgogno bottles (a lot of Barolo in general) can have very dark glass so you’ll need a strong bulb without a shade. If it’s clear throughout you should be ok. If it’s murky even near the bottom of the bottle I wouldn’t serve it as the sediment can rise quite early when decanting if it’s still suspended. More than a tiny amount of sediment can ruin the experience.

If you’re not sure, you can do what I’ve done in the past when decanting. I decant over a strong lightbulb and have two decanters ready; one for the wine that is completely clear and one for when there’s only a little bit of sediment running through (when the sediment starts running through more thickly it’s time to stop pouring). Hold the bottle horizontally throughout; i.e. don’t put it down again to reach for the other decanter. You can even pour the last bit (including all the sediment) into a tumbler or glass and place a small plate (or something else that will seal it) on top (in your cabinet if there’s room), then leave this for a week or so until the sediment has fully settled again, before pouring it into a fresh glass. Some of these old Barolos are so sturdy that they can take a week’s ox exposure without breaking sweat, so this is a good way to try to make sure you get every last bit of joy out of the bottle.

I try not to be too neurotic with most of my wine preparation, but old Nebbiolo is the exception. I stand the bottles up for at least a month, preferably three, open them in the morning for an Andouze, and decant very carefully an hour or two before serving. I have found the fine sediment in old nebs a real detriment when it’s not decanted off. I had a recent enlightening experience when a friend brought a 70’s bottle to a party and popped and poured, while I had the same bottle prepared and double decanted as I described. One went down the sink, the other was fantastic.

Enjoy yours; I love the old Borgognos. I’ve read the red labels show better than the reconditioned black labeled wines.


Good advice above about standing it up for a month, then carefully opening and decanting so as not to disturb the sediment. I recently did that with a 1947 Borgogno and still had a tiny amount of fine sediment despite my best efforts.

Same advice, re standing up Barolo for a month. I generally decant 3/4 of the bottle directly into a decanter and then the last 1/4 of the bottle through an unbleached coffee filter. Amazing how much sediment that removes and also how much wine you ‘save’ by doing this.

Some people don’t like the coffee filter idea, even though that while wine is a colloid, the size of the suspended particles (not sediment, what gives wine it’s flavors) are much smaller than the weave in the filter, so no reason to believe the filter traps anything but the sediment (much larger particles). Wine colloids (not sediment or yeast cells, etc) are smaller than 1 micrometer, while coffee filters allow easily sizes up to 10-15 micrometers. So unless you believe that the coffee filter itself imparts some off flavors to the wine (I’ve tested this with water, can find no difference in flavor between a glass of water poured directly vs a glass of water poured through the coffee filter, and if you can’t taste it in water, how are you going to taste it in wine?), it’s hard to see how any ‘flavors’ are being trapped by the filter.

I usually keep the 3/4 of the bottle separate from the 1/4 filtered part of the bottle and after some time taste the filtered one just to check. If no problems I mix the 2.

This means it is an original release, so all the advice you are getting about fine sediment and a long slow oxygenation are the right thing to do. (Is the right thing to do?)

Thanks to everyone for good advice. I will keep the bottle in the wine fridge for at least one more month.

My aim is to give this bottle every chance to be as good as it can be, not least so that my wife will understand that auctions is the way to go. [cheers.gif]

At what age do you start thinking about doing all this preparation? 10 years? 30?

Ehhh? [scratch.gif]

I’m feeling stupid right now…

I started as a second trimester fetus, but I was a bit precocious. [cheers.gif]

Basically when the wine starts to throw sediment. Not easy to tell through the dark bottles without a strong light. Play it safe and say 10 years. But I guess a great Barolo doesn’t really start to strut its stuff until 20 or 30 years of age or more.

Oh, sorry. I wasn’t just feeling stupid apparently… [head-bang.gif]