2000 BAROLOS BLINDTASTED (MASSOLINO, AZELIA, CERETTO) - Tom’s House, Palo Alto, CA (1/28/2010)
Introductory comments by tasting organizer Ross Bott:
The most famous of wines to come out of the Piedmonte region in northern Italy are the Barolos. Nicknamed “The King of Wines and The Wine of Kings”, it is made 100% from a single varietal, Nebbiolo. The vineyards circle the town of Alba in the foothills of the Italian Alps. Nebbiolo derives from “nebbia”, Italian for “fog”, and the best wines come from the ridges (“briccos”) and slopes (“soris”) of the fog-covered mountains surrounding the town.
The making of Barolos traditionally began with long maceration of the fermenting grapes in large open oak casks, which made for wines of massive character, huge tannins, and impenetrable color when young. Young Barolos were often tight, closed, and almost unapproachable during the first decade of their life, and evolve slowly over 10 to 30 years to reveal their secrets. Older Barolos can smell of violets, currants and cassis, tar and a range of other complexities, and the best will taste smooth and silky, in sharp contrast to the hard angularity of their youth.
The 2000 vintage was the sixth outstanding vintage in a row. The string reached seven vintages with the great 2001 harvest, then finally was broken with a rainy, washed out 2002. The vintage started with cool weather in the spring, and a relatively small set of berries. However, like Bordeaux, which rang in the new millenium with fine weather throughout summer and a dry autumn, the Piedmonte was blessed with a warm summer and a rainfree early autumn. The resultant crop was smaller than normal, but combined rich, ripe fruit and firm tannins and structure for aging. When the wines were released, the leading reviews were unanimous in their praise, with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate giving the vintage 95/100, and both the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast giving the vintage 100/100 (the first time either magazine had given a whole region a perfect score).
Tonight we’ll try seven of the top Barolos and one Barbaresco from the 2000 vintage [woops, make that '01 vintage, as it turned out] as they reach their 10th anniversary. At 10 years of age, these Barolos should just be opening up, no longer in the primary fruit stage of their first few years, and coming out of the “shutdown” phase that most go through between 5 and 8 years of age. Included are three Barolos from Massolino, a traditional maker producing Barolos for the long haul, and two from Azelia, which produces riper, flashier Barolos that are more in the “international” style. Finally, there will be a single vineyard Barolo and Barbaresco from top maker Ceretto, a chance to compare two wines from the same varietal and same winemaker, but slightly different regions.
My TNs and group scoring
This was an enjoyable set of young Barolos overall. More than half were starting to open up nicely, and had really gorgeous noses. They changed a lot during 90 minutes or so in the glass, of course. The group’s technical #1, the Massolino Parafada, seemed to win based on a large number of third place votes, including mine. It had a beautiful nose, and a wonderfully layered palate. My #1, and the group’s #2 was the Azelia Bricco Fiasco, which I thought was really stunning, and had a long finish. My #2, the group’s #4, was actually a 2001 Ceretto Bricco Asili Barbaresco (instead of the '00 Ross had planned). It was wonderfully complex, and also had a long finish. I diverted from the group on their #3, the Azelia San Rocco, as I found it overly oaked for my taste. The weakest of the bunch was the Damilano, which was seriously oxidized, if not completely dead. The Massolino Margheria and Serralunga d’Alba were both quite tight at this point, but showing good structure.
2000 Massolino Barolo Parafada - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #1 (my #3) – 57 pts; 1 1st place vote, 4 2nd place vote, 6 thirds, 0 last places – medium red violet color; fabulous floral, roses, lavender, dried cherry, dried berry nose; tasty, delicate and layered tart cherry, dried cherry, roses, tart strawberry, mineral, tart orange palate that’s just starting to open; medium-plus finish (94 pts.)
2000 Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #2 (my #1) – 63 pts; 3, 5, 1, 0 - bricking medium red color with pale meniscus; nice dried cherry, baked cherry, tart cherry nose with pretty higher strawberry, strawberry cream notes; sexy, but tight yet, roses, lavender, baked cherry, dried berry palate with a touch of chocolate, good balance; long finish 95+ pts. (95 pts.)
2000 Azelia Barolo San Rocco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #3 (my #7) – 64 pts; 5, 2, 4, 1 - medium dark red violet color; deeper berry, caramel, chocolate, oak nose; tight, chocolate, blackberry, tar, oak palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
2001 Azienda Bricco Asili (Ceretto) Barbaresco Bricco Asili - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Group’s #4 (my #2) – 68 pts; 3, 2, 0, 1 - medium red violet color with pale meniscus; spicy, berry, blueberry, rich, brewed jasmine tea, baked orange, chocolate nose; tasty, tart berry, tart cherry, strawberry, jasmine tea palate with good balance and poise; long finish 94+ pts. (94 pts.)
2000 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Prapò - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #5 (my #4) – 85 pts; 3, 1, 1, 1 - medium brick red color with clear meniscus; VA, dried berry, cinnamon, dried cranberry, dried salty Chinese plum nose; rather tight, elegant, tasty, tar, roses, tobacco, cigar box, chocolate; medium-plus finish 93+ pts. (93 pts.)
2000 Massolino Barolo Margheria - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #6 (my #6) – 90 pts; 1, 0, 5, 1 - medium red violet color with pale meniscus; nice tart cherry, roses, dried berry nose with subtle wood notes; tight, tart red fruit, tart raspberry, structured palate with very firm tannins and medium acidity; long finish (91 pts.)
2000 Massolino Barolo Serralunga d’Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #7 (my #5) – 100 pts; 1, 1, 1, 3 - medium red violet color; tar, tart cherry, deep plum, baked plum nose; tight, tart cherry, tart red fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)
2000 Damilano Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Group’s #8 (my #8) – 127 pts; 0, 2, 0, 11 - medium brick red color with pale meniscus; oxidized, dried cherry, sweet smoke, baked orange nose; oxidized, spice box, dried black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)
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