Harvey Steiman's blog on the dinner the other night at Babbo in New York City was right on. He nailed the food and wine experience. In fact, my mouth is still watering thinking about the dinner and wines. And the Babbo kitchen really paired the food to the wine in a near perfect way.
I was stoked that the other editors of the mag were loving the six 1997 Barolos that I selected for the dinner. And they were all very impressed with the freshness and youthfulness of the wines, yet they were balanced and refined. They didn't expect to find this, and thought that the wines would be much more tannic, even bitter.
That's the old way to think about Nebbiolo, or at least about many wines made before 1996.
Of course, the 1997 vintage was a very hot year, when the Nebbiolo grape ripened to near perfection. Some growers may have picked a little too late, and made slightly raisiny or jammy wines. But on a whole, I have not found this. Moreover, some also had problems with stuck fermentations because their wineries were not equipped for the high sugar levels in the grapes as well as hot weather during the harvest. But this was not the case with most of the top names in such appellations as Barolo and Barbaresco.
Some people also say that 1997 is not a typical year for Nebbiolo, and they prefer the "more classic" 1999 and 2001. I am not sure that is very accurate. Some of the most classic years for Barolo and Barbaresco have been very hot, including such vintages as 1989, 1978, 1947 and others. But that's a matter of taste, if those people like slightly less ripe years with angular tannins and higher acidity. All the vintages since 1995 have been outstanding or classic quality, as you know.
The half-dozen wines at the Babbo blowout were superb. And they prove how wrong some people were when they said that the vintage should be drunk young.
Here are my notes on the wines with their order of serving:
1997 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato: Super youthful and racy. This shows loads of plummy, berry and floral fruit on the nose and palate. Full, silky and very long. This is just starting to open, but give it a little more time. Still quite tannic. 96 points, non-blind.
1997 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto: What a nose. So aromatic. Divine. The editors loved this. Masses of strawberries on the nose, with hints of Indian spices and light vanilla. Full-bodied, with soft and silky tannins and a long and caressing mouth feel. Very harmonious and refined. 97 points, non-blind.
1997 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Riserva: This is so aromatic and loaded to the brim with strawberry aromas and flavors. Full body, with super silky tannins and a long, caressing finish. Gorgeous plum, blackberry and floral character. 93 points, non-blind.
1997 Roberto Voerzio Barolo La Serra: Subtle aromas of blackberries, milk chocolate and vanilla, with cloves and cedar. Full-bodied, with ultra-polished tannins and a long, long aftertaste of cedar, berries and flowers. Give this another three to four years of time. 95 points, non-blind.
1997 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Cerequio: Loads of blackberries, plums, flowersand dried fruits. Full-bodied, with ultra-fine tannins that caress your palate. Blackberries, cherries, dark chocolate and lemons. Long and gorgeous. Just starting to be ready now. This was the most open and ready of the Voerzio wines, but it¹s still youthful. 95 points, non-blind.
1997 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Vecchie Vite dei Capalot e delle Brunate Riserva: This is only in magnum, and what an incredible wine! It was the favorite of the night. It was sill very dark-colored, and very concentrated, yet refined and polished. Intense aromas of white truffles, meat and earth, but then turns to ultra-rich fruit from blackberries to raspberries. Full-bodied, with a powerful palate of velvety tannins and lots of ripe fruit. Don't touch it for another four or five years, if you have superhuman patience! 98 points, non-blind.
I also brought to the dinner a bottle of Brunate, a wine I gave 100 points when it was released. But it was CORKED!!!!
Yet, it certainly didn't ruin out night at Babbo. I think the 1997 Barolos and the Babbo cucina redefined a "business dinner" for all of us!
Scott Oneil — UT — October 12, 2007 1:27pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — October 12, 2007 1:48pm ET
Bert Pinheiro — Baltimore Maryland — October 12, 2007 2:58pm ET
Scott Oneil — UT — October 12, 2007 4:18pm ET
Mark Boersma — Chicago, IL — October 12, 2007 4:45pm ET
Scott Mcdonald — Chicago, IL — October 12, 2007 8:29pm ET
Dale R Mcclaran — October 13, 2007 1:08pm ET
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