Newly released Barolo and Barbaresco wines – plus some others

A few recently tasted wines from the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco. Most are from the current vintage, 2013, though there are some older/prior vintage notes, too.

Having tasted the majority of wines from these areas in this (2013) vintage, I like what I see/taste. The structure is more classic, which translates to wines that will need many years in the cellar before they are ready. And even when they are ready, they’ll continue to develop (most positively) for a decade, two, or more into the future. As with most vintages/wines (all?), I suggest buying the producer first, the points/score and vintage – well, those are very distant seconds, if you will. That said, I’ll be buying several 2014s from select producers, about as many 2015s, and I’m going very deep on 2016, a year that may be my final larger-scaled participation in the new releases of wines from these areas.

Maybe that seems contradictory, as I had just mentioned that vintage should be a very distant second, behind producer, but it has to do with personal preference, and not trying to only buy the best. Too many people obsess over vintage data, or scores, or both – don’t, it’s a fool’s game. Find a producer that grows wines that speak to you, consistently, and trust that they’ll always give you the best that they can –  most times, it’s their family’s name on the label, and that means a lot.

2007 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà(R) Juicy, pure, and with good flavors/textures, but ultimately, not too interesting as the forwardness of the vintage seems to be dominating any interesting complexity and freshness that otherwise might be here. These wines may have been best on/just after release, losing a degree of their best moments with each passing year in the cellar. Which is to say, they’ll change over time, but I think the trade off is a zero-sum one at best. Drink now thru 2023, it’s pretty good. recommended

A recently tasted 2003 was a step or two above what I feel this could ever achieve with further evolution

2003 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà(HR)  Incredibly fresh right now, this is hitting all the right buttons: balance, early-mid maturity, lovely floral and sweet fruit notes, even some engaging tertiary aromas. The palate offers the same type of energy, freshness, the fruits was no time declaring more breadth and depth. Fascinating weight and textures, and a finish the takes its time building, prolonging the sapid finish. Elegant, and really tasty just now, with another 10-15 years of great drinking yet ahead. Really nicehighly recommended

2014 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà (HR)  Lovely crystalline garnet color. Classic aromas of cherry, rose, tar, a touch of menthol, soil. Remarkable persistence already, the weight is just perfect; lots of purity, energy, freshness and balance. This wine has great potential to develop greater beauty. A wow wine in the making, I thinkhighly recommended

2012 Fontanabianca Barbaresco Bordini –  (R)  This follows the 2013, and is perhaps the most complete wine; still, it is mostly backward today, even if the depth, and purity of the underlying material is quite good. Lots of acidity, good tannic frame. This is begging for 4-5 years of rest; avg finish, red-fruited, balanced. Presents as traditionally styledrecommended

2013 Fontanabianca Barbaresco Bordini  (R)  Tasted just after the 2014, this wine offers more soil character, and an herbal, dark licorice aspect to the nose. Pretty red/purple floral, avg freshness. Enters medium bodied, tannic (wood will need 3-5 years for proper integration), lots of cool acidity, avg complexity at this stage, though likely to develop more. 14,0% abv., drink 2022-2035recommended

2014 Fontanabianca Barbaresco Bordini (R)  From the cru (site) Bordini, presenting a seamless 14,0% abv, with alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, followed by malolactic in Fr. barrique (10%) and the other 90% in 30hl botti grandi; 20 days of maceration on skins. The palate enters med>full body, a gentle sweetness to the fruit, with cranberry, orange spice, soil and red flowers on the nose and palate. Could benefit from some more freshness (bottle variation? needs aeration in decanter?), but the persistence is quite good. 14,0% abv., drink 2020-2034recommended

2014 Adriano Marco e Vittorio Barbaresco Sanadaive(HR)  Sanadaive is a fantasy name, based upon local dialect meant to express a small, distinct area between two local cru (near to Rizzi cru) sites. This traditionally styled wine offers plenty of freshness, good sapidity, classic flavors and aromas and a good dose of soil. Elegant, understated, clean, and well-balanced. The final two months (this was harvested end of October) were sunny, and pleasant; ideal phenolic ripeness here. Tannins will require another 3-4 years to more properly integrate; more complexity will develop during this time. 13,5% abv., drink 2021-2036highly recommended

2011 Adriano Marco e Vittorio Barbaresco Riserva Basarin (HR)  Garnet+ core, with very pretty, traditional nose of sweet red fruit, tar, roses, and soil. Very classic, traditional presentation consistent with the vintage’s warmer, riper, more approachable qualities. Whereas the nose says traditional, the palate comes across with some creaminess, the fruits are sweet, and the tannins round; that is not to say this is in any way inferior, the tastes, weight and balance are excellent. The grapes for this wine come from select parcels within Basarin cru, picked ~ 1 week after the others, then alc. fermentation in stainless, 22 days of maceration, then 2 years in botti grandi. This wine really brings it, great experience. 15,0% abv. (resolved) , drink 2018-2033highly recommended

2012 Azienda Agricola Bera Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà(HR)  Explosive nose, traditional color and aromas, with flavors that follow – rose water, soil, tar, asphalt, bright, citrus, and red berry fruit. Great energy, balance. Enters a classic medium body, good energy, developing complexity/depth; all the pieces are here, though the tannins suggest at least 4-5 years of rest, then a long life afterward. 14,5% abv., 2022-2044+highly recommended

2014 Azienda Agricola Bera Barbaresco  – (R)  Bottled < 6 months ago, this is already coming together very nicely, displaying a bright garnet core, a mixture of pomegranate, watermelon, jolly rancher, spice on the nose; good freshness. Enters medium-bodied, good energy, a tangy-savoriness at its core; red-fruited, balanced, with the oak needing several more years for proper integration. Presents as traditionally styled. I like it. 14,0% abvrecommended

2012 Ada Nada Barbaresco Riserva Cichin –  (HR)  This Riserva wine was hand harvest during the third week of October. Following was ~ 15 days of maceration in INOX/stainless steel; after, the wine is raised in botti grandi for ~ 3 years. Pretty garnet>ruby color, with a nose that opens with generous and deep soil notes; beautiful, with a core of red and spicy fruit, good citrus. Med>full body, developing flavor complexity, great acidity, big tannins – this is built to last. With time, some roasted berries, and slight savory notes appear suggesting there’s a lot inside. Quite nice, interesting. 14,0% abv., drink 2022-2044highly recommended

2014 Ada Nada Barbaresco Valeirano(R)  Bottled last September, this presents a garnet>ruby color with fading to the rim. The nose is sweet and powerful, and yet there’s a subtlety I like, a delicacy about it; really pretty. The palate shows great freshness, with plenty of cool acidity; some tannins that need resolved, a little tartness. Red-fruited, nice soil tones, balanced, fresh. Medium-bodied with a finish that portends good things are yet to come. Very nice, with good potential for improvement. That said, give this at least 3-4 more years, the wait. will be worth it. 14,0% abv., drink 2022-2039. recommended

2010 Viberti Giovanni Barolo Riserva Bricco delle Viole(R)  Good complexity to the nose, solid vibrancy. Fennel, red and black licorice, soil, some truffle; pretty. The palate is medium-bodied, well-structured, classic presentation, including really firm, young, fierce tannins. A good amount of interest for me here, so it’s easily recommended. 14,5% abv., drink 2023-2039.

2012 Viberti Giovanni Barolo Buon Padre(R)  This follows the 2013 Buon Padre, and offers the same garnet>ruby color; bright, clear. Much more soil and (red and brown) spice than the previous wine; interesting, good energy to the nose. Oak tannins present as more in balance on the nose and palate (than Buon Padre), but the grape tannins are bold and firm; this needs at least 5 years of rest. I see good potential for improvement here. 14,0% abv., drink 2023-2038+recommended

2013 Viberti Giovanni Barolo Buon Padre – (NR)  Garnet toward ruby, clear, bright. Average freshness and overall complexity on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied, with med(-) complexity/flavor development/finish; acidity is medium. Not very interesting today, perhaps time will be kind. 2021-2035NR

2013 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Cannubi(R)  Opens with some reduction as with the Terlo wine. Classic garnet color, bright, pretty. Average complexity today, with red hard candy, cherry and just a whiff of soil, soil, some roses, and soapstone. Enters closer to full body than medium, nice lines/weight/texture; balanced overall, there’s a little hole in the mid-palate today, though this is quite likely to fill in with time. Not so much Cannubi today, just Barolo/Nebbiolo; oak needs 4-5 more years to better integrate. Solid potential to improve. 14,5% abv., drink 2022-2036recommended

2013 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Terlo Vigna Costa Grimaldi(R)  Opens with some reduction; perhaps best to aerate in decanter if yours presents the same. With the reduction now gone (5 minutes), some pretty perfumes emerge, but it’s clear, the complexity within is still developing, i.e. this is pretty closed today. Medium-body, classic garnet color, flavors are developing, too, and the finish today is just avg. Components are here, and the tannins are not so firm that with 3-5 more years, this could well be approachable, and interesting. 14,0% abv.; drink 2022-2037recommended

2006 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Sarmassa(NR)  Seems mature, with medium acidity, avg(-) complexity, and avg finish. Little nuance or cause for excitement/attraction here. Totally approachable already, garnet+ color; I’m bored. 14,5% abv., drink now thru 2022NR

2014 Marchesi di Barolo Barbera d’Alba Peiragal(NR)  100% Barbera, grown, iirc, just next to the Castle in Barolo village. A classic, bright ruby color, with a nice blend of soil and fruit notes; some wood sticks out (6 mos new barrique, iirc). On the palate, presents as a middle of the road Barbera, with medium: acidity/complexity/finish. A good weeknight wine. 14,0% abv. drink now thru 2021. This might well benefit from 1 hr of air in decanterNR

2012 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Sarmassa(NR)  Darker garnet/classic color.k I think this saw 6 mos in barrique, perhaps that’s what’s keeping the freshness subdued. Candied, forward cherry, soil, red licorice; presents as modernly styled. Medium-bodied, medium+ acidity, a fair amount of tannins yet to resolve. Modest complexity, potential. 2019-2028; 14,0% abvNR

I’ve a few hundred more notes to process, so bear with me, I’ll get them posted as soon as I can.

(header photo: taken while visiting Guido Porro, looking south/southeast)

One thought on “Newly released Barolo and Barbaresco wines – plus some others

  1. Sad to say, I’m not surprised by your notes on Marchesi di Barolo, a winery we still have a soft spot for, but whose wines continue to disappoint, and one of the few genuinely disappointing visits we’ve arranged in Piemonte. I think we came away with a bottle of the Peiragel, on the flawed reasoning it was the least disappointing wines and is (as you saw it as well) a decent/modest table wine.

    I’d love to see them shake off the easy tourist trade (increasingly a feature of the village of Barolo) and take a long term view of restoring the decent reputation the winery had decades ago. Early positive experiences aren’t forgotten, and that’s where we still have a soft spot for them, but I can’t see us buying anything from them until they recognise how far they’ve let things slip and resolve to do something about it.

    Really appreciate your notes.


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