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Editor at large Harvey Steiman joined Wine Spectator in 1983.
Harvey Steiman

A Piedmont Red Ready to Drink Now

Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano 2003

Harvey Steiman
Posted: September 24, 2009

Barolo from an off vintage, especially with a couple of extra years in the bottle, can make an amiable table companion. That was the case with Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano 2003, which I recently found on the list at Acquerello in San Francisco for $42 in half-bottle, perfect for our table of two.

My wife and I love half-bottles of good wines in a restaurant setting, so that when it’s just us, we can enjoy more than one wine at dinner without wasting any.

The 2003 may not provide the grand experience of a great vintage. A Barolo from 2000 or 1997 would have dramatically higher tannins and extra complex aromatics, but the softer texture and approachability of the 2003 worked with a variety of foods. The Nebbiolo wrapped its pretty plum and spice flavors, with gentle hints of tea and dusky spices, around our two different dishes—grilled steak and braised veal. I would rate it 88 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind tasting review for Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano 2003 (87, $47).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Barolos, along with our quick list of Top Values in Italian reds.

Fred Brown
Maryland —  September 24, 2009 7:52pm ET
We were in Barolo last month, and after tasting '04 Barolos we bought an '03 and some '07 Barbara d'Alba for drinking at subsequent stops on Lake Como and in the Dolomites.

Very much agree about the '03s (a small family winery with a shop on the main street, can't remember the name)- drinking very pleasantly right now.

We were actually blown away by the Barbara from Barolo vineyards. Haven't had any luck in the states finding any unfortunately.

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