Ugh. (TN: 2010 Altare Barolo "Arborina")

  • 2010 Elio Altare Barolo Vigneto Arborina - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (3/10/2015)
    Pop and pour. Very dark and spicy nose with overt oak notes on the notes. The palate is slightly sweet with a lot of brown spice and ripe dark fruit (dare I say it, but slightly Dujac-y), but that’s where the good things end. The oak is loud and obnoxious, the fruit’s too jammy, the finish comes off too hot, and the structure too soft. This is a bottle of wine full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Perhaps this will integrate and improve with time, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. I’ll report back over the next few days. (70 pts.)

I had the basic Altare 06 yesterday. I would say it rated more of a “meh” than an “ugh.” It at least showed some Nebbiolo acidity, but the rest left me unimpressed. Maybe your wine will get there.

The fleshiness and lack of acidity, with bonus oak, is really not doing it for me. I hope this picks up a bit of structure overnight, but we’ll see about that tomorrow.

May tomorrow bring structure, and with it indifference.

champagne.gif Puss.

I cut this much slack: Altare and Scavino both make excellent wines OF THEIR STYLE, using fruit from top vineyards. I just do not understand why anyone would prefer their wines to excellent wines made from the same or better fruit in a transparent, traditional style. (I am no longer convinced that the answer is that modernist wines drink well younger.) I also do not understand why Altare is so damn hard-headed in the face of the collapse of the modernist movement. Even Scavino and Clerico have dialed back the oak. Oaky, fruity nebbiolo is rapidly becoming a mass-market, supermarket-shelf phenomenon…

The wines are at the point that you almost feel sorry for him.

The big question is whether or not his daughter reads the handwriting on the wall, but surely she will not be able to do anything until Elio is dead…

I had the '10 Altare in a group of 8 2010 Barolos, tasted blind, and it stuck out like a sore thumb from the rest of the wines. I don’t think it was just the oak.

Scavino wines are far more interesting than these wines (said not having had the 10, but I’ve been tasted on a fair number of Altare wines going back). They may not be my first choice, but I can perhaps see why someone else might like them more in their first 10 years.

Disappointing… bought some based on reasonably decent CT scores… goes to show i guess…
but never had these before so got some 06/07/08… still too young? wait 10 more years and hope/pray?

Only 4-5 days of skin contact in roto-fermenters. Wowsers! That’s short. Then 24 months in new oak.

Mark - 10 years of prayer might be your best hope. You can always open them for your friends that like Cali wines.

I cut them no slack…but they don’t need any from me.
Plenty of people love this sort of juice,though…

I’d be interested to try the wines. My own preference lean more towards traditionalist winemaking, but I’ve enjoyed plenty that straddle the divide (as plenty do these days) and some that would be termed modernist-leaning. I also enjoy Gattinara and Ghemme which are altogether leaner.

I’ve yet to taste anything with that sort of regime in the cantina - perhaps the closest might be Barbaresco wines from La Spinetta which I thought were interesting & enjoyable but priced 50% higher than I would pay. Good for the education I suppose, and I hope I’d keep an open mind.

Can you elaborate on the change? I’m interested to know.

When I visited Scavino 4-5 years ago, they said something interesting, that they use idential oak treatment on all or almost all of their wines, so that the terroir of the sites can be compared side to side with the winemaking part held constant. At the time, going from memory, the aging was something like 2 years in barriques and the rest of the time in casks (that might not be exactly correct, but it was in that ballpark). Of course, the retort would be that the barriques tend to mask the terroir so why use them so much, but I’m just relaying what they told me, and it was an interesting viewpoint.

I do agree that they are a good quality producer, but also make a style that I don’t prefer as much. To me, it’s definitely possible to hold those two thoughts simultaneously.

I did a dinner with Clerico not long ago. Most of his Barolo are 25-30 days and 24-30 months in barrel 80% new. The wines showed slight to no oak. I certainly was expecting more. I am going to dinner with him in Verona and doing a visit to the winery later in Piedmont. So I will be giving the wines a much more intense look.

2004 was the high-water mark for Clerico’s oak abuse, and he has steadily reduced the oak from there. Perhaps Mr. Coley can report on Scavino’s path away from uber-oak…

OK, you are right. I am reeling in the slack right now, and hoping that my lure does not get snagged on barrique!

According to one of their US importers’ website, all Scavino’s Barolos now get 12 months in barrique, then 12 months in botte.

Until 1999 or so, they got 18 months or more in barriques, as I recall. When I last visited in 2002, Enrica said her father had decided that that was too much new, small oak and he had installed more botte. I can’t find anything on their maceration times, but I don’t think they were as extreme in any way as Altare. The high water mark for Scavino on oak and all the other stuff was 98/99, I think.

Also, Arborina is relatively low on the La Morra slope, as I recall, while Scavino’s non-riserva wines come from Castiglione (Bric del Fiasc), the upper part of La Morra (Cannubi) and Verduno (Monvigliero).

FYI, Karin O’Keefe gave the Scavino Bric del Fiasc 100 points at Wine Enthusiast.