BAROLO LAND IN SPRING
by Filippo Bartolotta
Itâ€™s 0730 in the morning and the fog is all around Langhe. I went for my morning run on the river Tanaro. Again another accommodation near the water. Started in NYC near the East River, then a the Stage Coach in the Berkshires, then time for a lot of Water in San Francisco and Santa Monica, then the lake in Chicago and a little lake in Cincinnati till of course more water in Marthaâ€™s Vineyard and now the beautiful Tanaro.
After my shower and home made cookies and cakes at La Terrazza sulle Torri in Alba I got picked up by Gianluca to go to get Lana and Jim at Relais Monforte.
Itâ€™s eleven oâ€™clock when we enter Bruno Giacosaâ€™s cellar and the fog is still everywhere.
Once one is in front of Giacosaâ€™s Crus though nothing much matters!
Giorgio Lavagna -the wine maker- and I decide to go for Barbaresco Asili 2005 and 2007 and Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2007 followed by Barolo Rocche dellâ€™Annuziata 2005 (white label) and Barolo Rocche dellâ€™Annuziata 2004 (red label).
What is the difference between the Giacosa Barolo white label and red label?
The white label is the regular Barolo or Barbaresco, whether the red label is the Riserva made only in great vintages.
Which was our favorite? I think the Barolo Rocche 2004 red label was the superior wine because of its density, minerality, broad tobacco and truffles nose with tons of dense balck and red fruit and a extremely smooth tannins and depth. For what I know there’s another element to keep in mind: this wines will age forever. It was only 3 weeks ago when I had my third bottle of Giacosa 1964 and 1967: they were both so young and fresh with so luscious sweet tannins…
Mind you though that the 2007 will all be stunning wines with a lot of ripe, clean and sweet fruit and floral complexity. The Asili is like always the most ready to drink and the most balanced when young, while the Santo Stefano tends to be the deeper one even on the color.
We quickly depart to go taste Marina Marcarinoâ€™s wines at Punset estate.
Marina makes very juicy and well structured organic Barbarescos.
She is a serious agronomist who started organic farming in 1982: here they call me â€œla mattaâ€ -the crazy one- as during the first five years I struggled a lot to convert regular farming into organic.
Now a lot of people are moving towards this direction, but in Langhe is still early stages.
Her Barbaresco Campo Quadro 1999 and 2003 are showing today their amazing character with the prior one being very fresh and mineral and the latter with a denser and sweeter palate reflecting the vintage. Marina goes very proud of her â€™03 as most wines in that hot vintage came out stewed! I have to say that I enjoyed a lot the structure of 2004 Riserva with a more tar and earthy finish.
Lana and Marina engage for a very entertaining conversation on organic wines and Lana is now deeply in love with Punset wines as I have been now for quite a while. It is now 1330 and we have a reservation at La Ciau del Tornavento with great Maurilio.
Before deciding what to go for Nadia greets us at the table asking what wines we want to go for. Jim asks me to choose and I go for two very different wines: Voerzio Cerequio 1998 and Monfortino 1993.
Nadia is looking after us with a selection of dishes chosen by Maurilio while we start sipping the menthol and tobacco perfumed Cerequio which as time goes by releases more dry roses and dark cherries. It tannic balance is perfect with velvet texture and a tender caress on the finish.
Monfortino 1993 insteadÂ starts very closed and a little dirty to change completely after 30 min. into a licorice, medicinal herbs, mushrooms and leather style nose. The palate is very sweet with a lot of round and rich flavors and a very savory finish.
Lana Jim and I question ourselves several time with the â€œcarne battutaâ€ first, with the snailsÂ later and eventually with the famous Maurilioâ€™s agnolottiâ€™s nest if Voerzio was better then Monfortino or vice-versa.
The funny thing is that we went from one to another and back never quite making up our mind. Traditionalist Monfortino or Modernist Voerzio? Nonsense! These are two vary rare fine wines not to be missed! This is the reason why why drink wine!
By the end of the meal the sun finally comes out and Maurilio brings us coffee and the petite patisserie on the Terrace. I am making my own dessert with Maurilio’s CugnÃ -a fig, grape must and nuts marmalade- Â with ricotta!
It is now 1730. Time to go home, but what a day! Can’t believe I have another two like this!