I had dinner last night in the Piedmont village of Treviso, at the restaurant La Ciau del Tornavento, with about two dozen producers of the best Barbarescos and Barolos. They were all there, from Bruno Rocca to Domenico Clerico to Enrica Scavino. What was a little hard to understand, though, was how quiet they've all been regarding the 2004 vintage. I hadn’t heard much of anything since I was in the region a few weeks before they started harvesting in 2004, and what I remembered was that the vintage produced very good quality (perhaps even outstanding) wines, as long as growers were careful with their grape crop levels. In the course of many subsequent visits, few spoke of the wonderful quality of that vintage. I guess they were more concerned with the weak 2002, and the spotty but still very good 2003.
I think it's now time for them to speak a little more about 2004! In fact, if I were them, I would be telling the world.
I tasted about 70 Nebbiolos from the 2004 over the last two days in blind tastings in the region, and I have to say that I fell in love with many of the wines. As I noted after my visits to Aldo Conterno and Bruno Giacosa, the 2004 Barolos and Barbarescos are wonderful young wines. They're so attractive and balanced that they beckon you to taste them – even drink them. They are extremely aromatic, with bouquets of ripe, floral fruit, and concentrated, with caressing tannins and loads of fruit. I like to compare them to 2000, but they have slightly more prevalent tannins. Perhaps it’s better to describe them as a modern 1996, where they have the same concentration as that classic vintage, with rounder and more refined tannins.
Here are the top wines that I tasted yesterday in an official blind tasting for the magazine: Azelia Barolo San Rocco, Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto, Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili, Domenico Clerico Barolo Pajana, Giacomo Grimaldi Barolo Le Coste, Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne, Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda, Paolo Scavino, Barolo Bric dël Fiasc, Paolo Scavino Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata Riserva, Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate, and Silvio Grasso Barolo Ciabot Manzoni.
There were another two dozen wines that I scored outstanding, and another two dozen or so at very good to outstanding. Obviously, the 2004 vintage is an excellent one for Nebbiolo. Of course, I did not taste all the Barbarescos or Barolos from every producer. I simply asked them to send me samples of two or three of their favorite wines in the vintage. The Barbarescos will be out on the market next year, while the Barolos will be out beginning in early 2008. I will taste them in bottle before their release in blind tastings in my office in Italy.
At dinner, I sat next to Chiara Boschis, who makes a wonderful Barolo Cannubi under her family’s label Pira, and she didn’t think that it was strange that very little has been said about this excellent vintage for Nebbiolo.
“We are like that here,” she said. “We would rather have the wines speak for themselves.”
They have certainly spoken to me about quality.
My Vino Today
1988 Lynch Bages: This was opened in double magnum for the main course at La Ciauvel del Tornaveneto, to go with roasted pigeon and woodcock. It was fantastic. Dark ruby color, it showed wonderful aromas of currants and crushed raspberries with a fresh herb, almost minty undertone. It was full bodied, with very silky tannins and a bright, refreshing acidity on the finish. One of the producers at the dinner noticed it was only 12.5 percent alcohol. He commented on how the Lynch proves that age-worthy wines need not be as high in alcohol as many of today’s top reds. I scored it 93 points in this non-blind tasting. (See my original tasting note here.)
Rodger Callo — December 1, 2006 5:17pm ET
Jeremy Matouk — Port of Spain, Trinidad — December 1, 2006 10:06pm ET
James Suckling — — December 3, 2006 5:34am ET
James Suckling — — December 3, 2006 5:35am ET
Ralph Michels — The Netherlands — December 5, 2006 3:13pm ET
Richard Thompson — Mount Nebbiolo, Colorado — December 12, 2006 1:34pm ET
Mario Bazan — Turin, Italy — June 25, 2007 9:00am ET
John Cooney Md — Ellington, CT — March 1, 2008 3:03pm ET
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