I went last night to the Bulgari Hotel in Milan with my children, Jack and Isabel, for dinner with Geddy Lee and Charlene and Alex Lifeson, and their friend Andy (whose surname I didn't catch). The band Rush is in Milan, doing a concert as they are near the end of a successful tour in Europe. (It's my children's first rock concert!) A lot of the show will be from their new album, Snakes and Arrows, which I think may be their best ever. The band gets better with age, like great bottles of Bordeaux or Barolo.
We actually had a number of old bottles of Barolo with dinner, as Luca Currado joined us, bringing a vertical of his Vietti Barolo Villero Riserva, including 1982, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2004. (If you get the chance to go, the food at the Bulgari is excellent, super-refined Italian and the venue itself is one of my favorites on earth -- super chic modern Milanese.) Anyway, I noticed in our database that we don't have notes for many of the Vietti Villero wines. Check out my mini-video of the evening. Sorry it's a little dark, but there wasn't much light in the dining room at the Bulgari.
If I remember correctly, Villero's land used for Barolo equals about 15 acres in total, and the Vietti winery has about one third of that. Vietti's Villeros are always a "riserva," so they are well-structured and long-lived. They come out on the market a couple of years after most Barolos.
What was really interesting was that we tasted the eight wines in flights of four. Luca Currado produced the first flight (2004, 2001, 1997, and 1996), and his father made the second flight. I have to say that Luca's flight was superior. They were cleaner, more refined, and better, but not by that much
"It not fair to compare them," said Luca. "They are a different world. They were made in a different way."
Alex and Geddy preferred Luca's wines on a whole, but they also loved the 1989, which was super clean, rich and fresh, with layers of beautiful strawberry fruit and ripe tannins. What a wine.
Here are my tasting notes and non-blind scores of the Villero Riserva:
2004: This wine will not be released for another two years, and it was the first time it had been tasted outside the winery. This has a wonderful nose of fresh flowers, strawberries, raspberries and spices. Full body, with silky, refined tannins and a long, long finish. This shows the superb quality of 2004 vintage. Outstanding.
2001: The wood dominates the wine a bit right now, with lots of balsamic and ripe fruit aromas that turn to vanilla. Full and velvety with a firm finish. Needs to come together still. Best after 2011. Outstanding quality.
1997: This was actually fresher and more structured than the 1996. It showed fabulous aromas of the plum, raspberry and vanilla with hints of earth. Full and very velvety textured. Long, long finish. Still needs time. Best after 2010. 96 points, non-blind.
1996: Full and very jammy for a 1996. Super rich and ripe. Plums and strawberries galore. Full body, velvety and very long. Now. 95 points, non-blind.
1990: This seems a bit funky and maderized but there was so much rich, ripe fruit underneath. Strawberries and violets galore. Full and velvety. Long finish. I just wish it was cleaner. Two bottles were the same. Drink now. 86, non-blind.
1989: What a fabulous wine. It was so bright and fruity, with raspberry and prune and plum character galore and just a hint of chocolate. Full body, very velvety and very long. Love it. Now. 96 points, non-blind.
1985: I really enjoyed this wine too. It had such a unique tawny Port and chocolate character, with lots of ripe berries. Full and very round and soft. Funky but very, very enjoyable. Drink now. 94 points, non-blind.
1982: Very buttery and a little funky, but very interesting ripe fruit from plums and strawberries. Full and round with velvety tannins. Long finish. 92, non-blind.
I loved Luca's comments on the 2004. It is such an exciting young wine, and I think there are going to be many more 2004 Barolos like this next year when I taste them.
"It is a bit like a beautiful dumb blonde right now," he said. "She is beautiful, but she needs to go to school for a while."
Alex, Geddy and I all wanted to know what was wrong with beautiful dumb blondes? We certainly enjoyed drinking the 2004 Villero now. You won't be disappointed when it comes out.