BAROLO, SWEET BAROLO!by Filippo BartolottaOn our second day in Langhe we start our morning with Elvis Barolo: Valter Fissore! Jokes aside, I like Valter very much because he is one of the most skillful, humble and relaxed Barolo producer one can come across.We do a little tour of the cellar and then Valter starts opening Elvio Cogno four Barolos:Barolo Cascina Nuova 2005 Crisp red fruit, floral touch and a lot of savory finishBarolo Ravera 2005Tougher style with more robust tannic structure and an earthier, musky approach.Barolo Vigna Elena 2004 (1 hectar only)Smooth, round and elegant. This wine is a pure Ros Nebbiolo clone releasing pure class and elegance.Barolo Bricco Pernice 2005This wine takes a little longer to open up but then is packed with lavanda and more mediterranean herbs.Nadia Cogno, Valter's wife, is making sure the wines are in good conditions, meanwhile Valter disappears and comes back with a magnum ofBarolo Ravera 1993: licorice, leather and mushrooms with a pretty amazing tannic structure and a very persistent finish. Still soooo young and beautiful!Valter has got only 6 bottles left of a wine that can go on for another 30 years: hold on to them Valter and thank you very much.While we are going back and forth from Ravera 2005 and Ravera 1993 Valter comes back with a Barolo Ravera 1999: Leather, cherries menthol, lavanda and above all the great sweet Nebbiolo tannins of the best kind!If anyone has got any of these bottles...give us a call!Barolo form great wine makers is maybe the most complex and satisfying red wine available, but when together with that one has also a great vintage -like 1999- and when the tannins rich the perfect ripeness is true heaven. It is not always the case, but today we had another couple of amazing examples of this with Roberto Contarno of Giacome Conterno winery.Giacomo is a firm believer in Barolo complexity, diversity and longevity.He works only with big Slavonian and Austrian oak casks which do not impart any flavors or tannins to the wines: I only want tannins from the fruit. I am one of the last ones to pick here in Langhe. I only harvest 40 ql/ha -50% of the Docg rules- but when the conditions aren't the best I can half that, like in 2002. Despite the summer rains, we had a sever vineyard management allowing as much light as possible to the grapes and then we waited till the first week of November to harvest. The warm autumn and the drastic temperature excursion allow us to make one of my best Monfortino ever: we didn't even make a bottle of Cascina Francia, everything went in the Monfortino!And so we are ready to try Monfortino 2002.Licorice, dry roses. cherries, white truffles and above all an immensely balanced, round and mineral tannic structure with a luscious "sweet" Barolo finish.And although the temperature in Giacomo's cellar is 55 F the wine didn't care in the slightest showing amazing power and elegance.We are now well ready for lunch at Ristorante Piazza Duomo with Enrico Crippa.Here we go a la carte, but like always we first start with the wine. We brought with us more of the Cogno 1993 and 1999 -just to make sure we had something to drink:)- and then we go straight to Conterno Cascina Francia 1961.Again "sweet Barolo moments" with licorice, truffles, echinacea, leather, tobacco. This is a serious wine with silky tannins and a lot of intensity and class. The wine went well with anything we had, but best of all with Crippa's Cacio e Pepe!These wines aren't scared of anything whether you match them with Capesante or Fired Rossetti or Alaskan Wild Salmon!Actually it was right n ,y list day in New York with Aj when he opened a bottle of Bartolo Mascarello 1964 (Magnum) while on the table there was the smoked Alaskan wild salmon.The actual pairing wasn't great, but one just needs to give enough time for the salmon to wear off or the Barolo power and elegance to smooth out!Barotolo Mascarello Barolo 1964 again was showing no sign of aging, sweet tannins, earthy complexity and delicate balsamic nuances.Pity that Cappellano 1970 was badly corked, as one could tell the structure was all there, and Taurasi Mastroberardino 1977 was dead. I can't remember if I mentioned it but Mastroberardino Taurasi 1968 opened last summer with Gianfranco Soldera and AJ was phenomenal!While Milo was wondering how crazy adults can get,AJ wasn't too happy about this and so we went for an incredibly eucalyptus, tar and leather dense Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 1984.On a final note I would like to thank Enrico Crippa for a "dessert quotation" on my generation most famous snack: Girella Motta!
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