My tasting at Burzi afforded me not only a chance to try my first proper Barolos outside of a classroom setting, but also yielded precious information about a Barolo producer tasting over the weekend as they rolled out their 2014 vintage.
Taking place at Cantina Comunale di la Morra, 9 producers would be in attendance showcasing 25 wines. Cost: €15. After not being able to make the large tasting back in Amsterdam, I rearranged my schedule to attend this one. If ever I was to get a crash course in tasting Barolo (of which I’d had a grand total of 3: 1 in class and 2 at Burzi [although I did try another Nebbiolo wine there]), this was it.
After hassle with a bus that never showed and my friend having to come get me and drive me to the tasting, I arrived about an hour after things started which left me with 2 hours to try 25 different wines. That’s 4.8 minutes for each wine, not to mention getting the pours, actually writing my notes by hand, and trying to talk with the producers (sadly, I am not fluent in Italian [yet!], but a few did speak some English). This would be nothing for a Somm, but as I’m still in the early learning stages of wine education, I’m not gunna lie – it was a bit daunting. I wanted to make the most out of the time and opportunity, so in I plunged!
While this tasting was a roll out of the 2014 Barolo vintage (remember, Barolo is made solely of the Nebbiolo grape), a few producers had bottles from earlier vintages on taste, as well. Here is a list of the participating producers:
- Mauro Molino
- Rocche Costamagna
- Casetta F.lli
- Reverdito Michele
- Agricola San Biagio
- Enzo Boglietti
- Renato Ratti
- Osvaldo Viberti
- Silvio Grasso
The wines I tasted ranged from Acceptable to Good and Very Good (based on the WSET Conclusion scale). As I’m still learning and honing my tasting skills, there were 3 times when forming my conclusion I grappled with whether it was my personal preferences speaking vs. the actual quality of wine (ie: I personally thought a wine was Acceptable, but was it an honest representation of its type and therefore Good? Or it was Good, but maybe I was missing something that made it Very Good? Was what I was picking up in the wine supposed to be there and I was just misinterpreting it??). Welp, the more you taste, the more you learn!
One producer I talked to was refreshingly honest in his assessment of his own wine. He was disappointed to be showcasing it now as it had only gone from barrel to bottle a few weeks before and in his opinion wasn’t showing itself in its best light. He also wasn’t impressed with the weather of 2014 – it was difficult and incredibly wet.
As I tasted all 25 wines (Woo! Go, Julia! #marathon #tastingfatigue :P), I’ll only share my top three tasting notes. I objectively found these three to be Very Good, but of all the wines I tried I also personally enjoyed these the most.
Barolo 2014 (Silvio Grasso) – medium ruby with rich wood notes, dried cherries, a hint of leather, and underlying strawberries on the nose. Palate had a good spice, lusciously ripe red fruits and berries, and a nice juicy/meatiness to the medium+ body. A medium finish kept things complex and interesting to the end. Nicely balanced all around. €26.50
Barolo La Serra 2014 (Mauro Molino) – medium garnet with warm spices, bruised fruits, and a touch of chocolate on the nose. Palate is medium bodied and well blended with strong red fruits and warm spices. The medium finish is complex and flavoursome. €50
Barolo Serra dei Turchi 2011 (Osvaldo Viberti) – medium garnet with a prominent nose reminiscent of cognac. Palate is bursting with dried red fruits, earth, and a generous warmth. A nuanced, medium+ finish rounds out this interesting wine. €28
One of the reasons Barolo requires so much aging is to help soften out and meld the flavours – the tannins in youth can be quite overpowering and take over 10 years to mellow out. While it’s nice there are regulations in place to already age Barolo before selling for potential immediate drinking, it is definitely a wine made with further aging capabilities.
While I personally am not overly fond of INYOURFACE tannins for everyday pleasure drinking, Barolo is certainly a wine that is never bland or simply quaffable. It can be full of complexity and character, and I look forward to trying many more quality Barolos in the years to come.