I'm picking up here where I last left off, halfway through reporting on mostly the 2009 vintage in Barolo. As you can see here, and in my previous report on these wines, the vintage is a bit irregular to say the least with some powerful, structured wines being produced as well as many wines that show elevated alcohols or aggressive tannins. As I've discussed here, the vintage posed significant and unusual problems for growers. Some were able to manage the challenging conditions while other didn't fare quite as well.

In all honesty it's quite early in the evolution of these wines to make broad sweeping statements about their quality, though we can get an idea of where they might be heading. My best guess is that this vintage will turn out similarly to 2000 in many ways, and at many estates. I expect these wines to mature relatively early, and at their best to turn out to be rather plump and fun to drink, but ultimately lacking the complexity and structure of the best vintages. The more I think these wines, the greater the similarity with 2007's elevated alcohol and green tannins becomes. In either event I would caution diving too deeply into the vintage. Taste and wait would be my recommendation, with a handful of exceptions. I just don't see the marketplace responding favorably to these wines, particularly with the 2010s and 2011 waiting in the wings.Burlotto - Verduno

G. D. Vajra - Barolo

Luigi Baudana - Serralunga

Francesco Rinaldi - Barolo

E Pira Chiara Boschis - Barolo

Canonica - Barolo

Domenico Clerico - Monforte

Giuseppe Rinaldi - Barolo

Bartolo Mascarello - Barolo

Fratelli Oddero - La Morra

Elio Altare - La Morra

Roberto Voerzio - La Morra

Aldo Conterno - Monforte

Giuseppe Mascarello- Monchiero

Giacomo Conterno - Monforte

Tenuta Montanello - Castiglione Falletto

Burlotto - Verduno

I've been a big fan of Burlotto's wines for some time now, and while this line-up is excellent they don't rinf my bell in the same way as some prevous vintages. This is entirely due to the vintage though, as Burlotto's wines are remarkably free of winemaking, with the exception of the Monvigiero of course. These are enlightened traditionalist wines in the best sense, and even in a vintage wth challenges like 2009 you really should give them a try. They remain great values.

2009 Burlotto Barolo Classico

Tight and lightly herbal on the spicy, rather focused nose that gives up a little white soil and green herb note over fine tight red fruit aromas. This is immediately transparent and crisp, in the mouth with lovely tannins, integrated acidity supporting fresh red fruits in a rather vibrant and clear style for the vintage. It is is still on the fruity side but with firm acids and a touch of heat on the finish. A very nice expression of the vintage. 89pts

2009 Burlotto Barolo Acclivi - Verduno

Three week maceration on the skins

Lightly green on the nose in a very fresh way, with hints of lightly toasty leather, dried orange rind and fresh camphor laced wild rainier cherry fruit. The fruit is quite full here but it is super fresh with the sweetness of the vintage and yet it retains a fabulous clarity. Elegant and refined, this is a gorgeous 09 with exceptional inner mouth perfumes, fine ripe yet firm tannins, and a long finish rich with a hint of orange rind accenting long delicate strawberry fruit, with just a bit of heat on the finish. 92pts

2009 Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero - Verduno

60 day maceration on the skins

This has a hugely aromatic nose that explodes with savory, tapenade, thyme, light geranium notes, followed by a spicy truffle precursor and rich, dark fruit. This is fairly ripe, packed with soft abundant tannins and integrated acidity, this will be ready quite early. The fruit here freshens up on the backend showing a little ripe strawberry, strawberry seeds, building with great intensity and clarity on the backend and showing great brilliance on the finish. 93pts

2009 Burlotto Barolo Cannubi - Barolo

This is all limestone, tobacco, and incense on the nose  with late arriving dried herb stems, and rose petals. Relatively open on entry  then this tightens up considerably though it does reveal nice kernel of fruit, elegant, smoky, taut fruit with hints of watermelon freshness supported by  super tannins, love the cut of these tannins. The finish shows great persistence and clarity to the fruit, but the tannins continue to be impressive, so ripe, well integrated, and yet firm. 93pts

G. D. Vajra - Barolo

Vajra's wines have always struck me as quite pretty with early appeal yet the seem to lack a bit of depth in some cases. Today's wines continue in that vein with very pretty fruit and good aromatic complexity, yet the wines seem to lack a little follow through. The style straddles the line between modern and traditional and the house style definitely seems aimed for those who prefer not to have to wait for their Barolo to mature.

2009 G. D. Vajra Barolo Albe - Barolo

From vineyards in Fossati, Coste, and  la Volta

Very fruit driven on the nose,  bright and fresh and full of strawberry fruit edged with hints of tar, dried herbs, camphor, and white soil. With very soft tannins this is easy on entry  showing some polish to the  dark berry fruit, that is fresh a little spice note. The tannins and a hint of mint build on the backend. Elegant if seemingly a bit simple in the mouth though the  finish shows more depth and complexity than the midpalate, with tannins are abundant but the ripe soft tannins of the vintage. 89pts

2008 G. D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole - Barolo

Deeply profound nose, with layers of spice, black cherry, woodsy spice, and camphor. This really is  very precise and perfumed on the nose with  lovely floral top notes, though in the mouth it is rather assertively fruity for the vintage but not in the frooty sense, with some tarry notes adding some detail to the core of wild strawberry and wild cherry fruit. On the backend this turns a little woodsy aromatically. This is relatively open though it is noticeably less complex and interesting on the palate than the nose. 91pts

Luigi Baudana

Luigi Baudana was purchased by the Vajra family several years ago and today serves as an excellent contrast to their wines from Barolo vineyards. The family has worked dilligently to improve the quality here and today's line-up shows the results of their efforts. These are more taditional feeling wines than the Vajra wines, very possibly due to the simple fact that they come from vineyards in Serralunga. Whatever the precise set of causes these are wines to watch out for. They are nuanced, complex and powerful wines.

2008 Luigi Baudana Barolo - Serralunga

Lovely nose, perfumed and earthy with aromas of dark fruit, a touch of fig, and subtle hints of iron and spearmint. In the mouth this shows slighty softer acids than I expected given the vintage though they do offer fine cut to the cherry fruit, with a backing notes of something vaguely leafy that adds freshness here. With lovely tannins and a savory/leathery edge, this shows a hint of black fruit on the  clean precise finish that ends with hints of smoke and mint. . This is really rather focused and pure expression of the vintage.  90pts

2008 Luigi Baudana Barolo Baudana - Serralunga

Very similar to the Serralunga bottling with a richly savory nose that shows  a bit of a balsamic top note along with slightly stewy strawberry fruit framed with hints of pink peppercorn, carob and cola. Soft on entry though with acids that are more present than in the Serralunga bottling. This is showing some dark fruit, a touch of date perhaps, though with an attractive freshness as the flavors unfold on the muscular but fruit driven palate. This is flecked with mineral and faint dried fennel notes, in a style that is a little chewy and a little leathery but very nicely done, with lovely rasp/strawberry fruit on the moderately long finish. 91pts

2008 Luigi Baudana Barolo Cerretta - Serralunga

Perfumed and precise on the nose with lovely wild cherry fruit and mineral notes early on the nose followed by tobacco, smoke, rosehips, and a dusty sheen. On entry one is greeted by  firm small black cherry fruit that shows nice tension and a lovely tannin structure that is lacy and yet firm. Offering good midpalate complexity with earthy, herbal and camphor notes, this retains a lovely brightness right through the excellent length finish which reveals the elegant side of this wine.  93pts

2006 Luigi Baudana Barolo Baudana - Serralunga

Opened 24 hours

Nice dried plum in alcohol, tobacco, and rose stem aromas greet the nose followed by hints of mint, wood spice and prosciutto.  Rather relaxed in the mouth, in fact surprisingly so, this is a touch chunky, wide open and soft with late arriving drier tannins that make this a little chewy. The fruit is fading here though this does have some attractive complexity with hints of mint late on the palate, though this does remain a bit lean with some fuzzy peach skin tannins on the modest finish. 88pts

Francesco Rinaldi

The wines of Francesco Rinaldi have for some reason been slow to receive the recognition they deserve. Very traditional wines, that in the case of the Barolos at least smell immediately of old school winemaking and botte in particular. These can be divisive wines in that they are not always perfectly clean but they have immense character, ageing potential, and consistancy.

These wines smell very much of botte

2009 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Le Brunate - la Morra

10,000 bottles produced, ferments for 21-30 days, cultured yeasts are sometimes used but sometimes, as with 2008 they are not necessary

This has shockingly evolved nose right out of the battle with lots of sweet old wood, a little dirty and funky, lots of cured pork, with a bit of hay and quinine adding complexity.  The dirty aromas blow off quickly revealing a tight core of wild yellow cherry fruit and dried citrus pith, with a balsamic note. This is showing superb freshness on the palate, full of red fruit and orange peel flavors that are nice and fresh, really transparent and high toned on the palate, with lovely, very ripe soft tannins on the finish which shows bright tart cherry fruit. This is very 2009 in that it is really almost ready but with classic flavors and structure. A very good 2009 that is a little light on the palate at this point. 91pts

2009 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio - Barolo

Immediate dirty barrel on the nose, this also takes air to clean up, and when it does there’s great tobacco, rosebud, dried herb, and baked soil aromas here. On entry this is cool, crisp, and open with fine ripe tannins, great focus and good complexity on the palate. There are lovely flavors of wild raspberries layered with savory, umami notes of tobacco and lardo. Somewhat cool and compact on the palate at this point, this is pretty classic cannubi expression with a gorgeous mouthfeel and a long ripe if slightly drying tannic finish. This has really fine energy in the mouth on the backend and through the finish. 93pts

E Pira Chiara Boschis

Chiara Boschis is one of the most passionate producers in Piedmonte. Decidedly of a modernist ilk in the cellar, yet commited to traditional, low impact farming methods, her wines speak for themselves. You can almost guess that these were wines made with a woman's touch. They are elegant, and detailed with a gentle sense of restraint and while they do see time in barrique, though much lesss new wood than they had seen in the past, they absorb the wood quite well. One of my two favorite 'modernist' producers.

2009 is the last vintage of Via Nuova as a Cru bottling.  Instead of producing a Cru Terlo, which is the new appellation for the vineyards formerly known as Via Nuova, the name has been retained as a proprietary name for a base Barolo blended with parcels from Serralunga and Monforte.

Two week ferments for the Barolo, approximately 30% new wood

2010 E Pira Chiara Boschis Cannubi - Barolo

Barrel Sample - Some obvious oak, and wood spice is present on the nose though it is very well integrated and already elegant. On the palate this shows superb integration, fabulous tannins, awesome ripeness to the fruit. Depth, power and aromatics, this needs time for the oak to integrate, but the underlying wine is awesome with everything in balance. 94-96pts

2010 E Pira Chiara Boschis Via Nuova - Barolo

Barrel sample - A little less wood on the nose, still perfumy new wood top notes, over aromas of rose petals, raspberry fruit, and  a touch of sandalwood. This is rather round and open in the mouth, both very transparent and rich, with amazing fruit, quite fresh plummy, with nice acidity keeps things really bright.This is packed with ripe tannins, nice high toned slightly vegetal aromatics in the mouth with a bitter orange rind note on the finish. 92-94pts

2010 E Pira Chiara Boschis Mosconi - Monforte

Barrel sample - Muscular, tight, and almost Serralungan on the nose with its assertively medicinal aspect. The oak works better here, melding well with the medicinal, tight dark fruit that is packed with mineral and earth aromas though this is  softer than Serralunga on the palate. Rich, and a little chewy in the mouth, this shows tons of dark fruit that is powerful and intense though this lacks a bit of elegance. One finds lots of cut plum and spice on the backend, along with huge ripe fruit tannins on the finish with pomegranate fruit. A powerhouse 93-95pts

2009  E Pira Chiara Boschis Cannubi - Barolo

Ripe fruit that is a touch jammy greets the nose followed by lots of  very mineral, limestone notes along with oak that is fairly well integrated already, still obvious but in balance with the raspberry in alcohol fruit. This turns a touch balsamic with air and the oak presence increases a touch with  a hint of nuttiness. Smooth, soft, and rather 2009 in the mouth this shows slightly syrupy raspberry and wild cherry fruit, with a Iittle hazelnut accent. There's an underlying sweetness here,  though this tightens up on the finish, showing lots of late tannins. Both rather tense and very ripe this is a bit unfocused in the mouth. 89pts

2009 E Pira Chiara Boschis Via Nuova - Barolo

A bit chocolatey on the nose with accents of ivy, black fruit, and carob adding detail to the rather floral and high-toned nose.   Here you get lots of ripeness with an underlying vegetal freshness on the powerful entry, which is followed by deep fruit on the palate that is a touch intense and yet fresh with ripe tannins and good acidity. Complexity creeps in slowly with a little mint and a little leathery and animal nuance.  This is showing really compelling freshness and complexity of fruit, even if it is fairly ripe.  92pts

2009 E Pira Chiara Boschis Mosconi - Monforte

Bit of confiture and campfire greets the nose which is deep and powerful with a fudgy edge to the very ripe dark cherry and plum fruit, gaining some slow to emerge rose petal accents. This is fairly fruity but bright on the palate with slightly exotic red fruits. Snowing more elegance and less 2009 vintage character than the other wines here, this has a restrained opulence to it with the ripe darkness of fruit touched with a hint of espresso foam. The finish shows some peach character, good length, and really attractive refinement to the tannins. 92pts

2004 E Pira Chiara Boschis Cannubi - Barolo

Open from yesterday

Wild and intense notes of ass, soil, a little egg, a hint of carrot/beet vegetal sweetness, and a creamy almost black cherry fruitiness on the nose. Opulent and bright in the mouth with very ripe tannins, very ripe yet clear fruit and great follow through on the palate. Bright and decisive in the mouth this exhibits good energy though a little older wood note lingers on the nose and there are still wood tannins here obscuring the finish. 92pts

2005 E Pira Chiara Boschis Cannubi - Barolo

Probably on 80% new barrique at this point, maybe 70% but something like that

Very low production from before the rain

Still shows some new wood on the nose along with tight, fine cherry fruit, almond oak, lots of herbal eucalyptus notes all come together on the slow to build nose. Silky and elegant on the palate with a touch of dry tannins adding an edge of nervousness. This shows a lovely spicy fruit quality, with an incipient sweetness to the core of wild cherry lozenge fruit with its menthol and medical notes. The long finish shows a touch of minerality and a light licorice tone, along with more almond on the finale. 91pts


Gianni Canonica is somewhat of  a pioneer in Piedmont, one of the very few producers who has stuck with both traditional methods and organic farming for over 20 years. The results speak for themselves, though the Barolo tends to be almost modern with it's purity and freshness of fruit. I admittedly do not have significant experience with these wines, especially as to their ageing potential, but the wines do have excellent balance in their youth and so much fruit that I look forward to trying these with some frequency as they age.

2009 Canonica Barolo Paiagallo - Barolo

6,000 bottles

Barolo ferments for forty days, in cement or resin depending where he has space, open top, two punch downs a day, malo occurs when it warms up, then it goes in wood, 25 Hl barrels of Slavonian oak.

Minty and intense on the nose with lots of floral and licorice aromas layered over all sorts of raw Middle Eastern spices. Powerful and elegant in the mouth, there’s lots of depth here to the intense fruit. Very fresh in the mouth with nice tannins, a little rounded but not soft, this shows a beautiful expression of fruit, not as precise as the 2008 but more intense and complex, with huge follow through that drops off a touch easy on the finish.  Air brings out rich wild cherry fruit, that smells so fresh, in the mouth, full of nuanced woodland flowers and soil and vegetable full of dirt aromas. This shows the soft tannins of the vintage but not with the excessively easy structure. 92pts

Domenico Clerico - Monforte

Clerico is one of the original forces behind the modernist movement and I have to admit to being an admirer for years, though with some reservations. The wines produced here through the 1980s and into the mid-1990s seem to have not really evolved particularly well. It's not that they evolved poorly but rather seem to be a bit frozen and simply fading away with time rather than gaining nuance and complexity. I have to believe that this current set of releases will not undergo the same fate. As far as modernist wines go these are among the very best. Powerful, some loaded up with too much oak, but when Clerico gets everything right, which is more often than not, you do end up with a very fine, complex, and wonderful balanced bottle of Barolo.

2009 Clerico Barolo Bricotto - Monforte

The Bussia bottling was produced from 1978 through 1995. Clerico stoppedstopped production out of respect for Aldo Conterno: “Bussia is Aldo Conterno’s”.  All production went into Arte, until 2007 when Clerico had decided that he had found his way with this Cru and Aldo Conterno had found a different way. Thus Bussia has returned with the name Bricotto.

Sold only in mags

Lovely woodsy aromas married to a dry toasted oak nose that shows light vanilla and milk chocolate notes over a base of floral, fine red fruits, red currant notes with a touch of herb spice. The oak becomes a decidedly spicy aspect here. Powerful, silky and open in the mouth with a rich core of cherry fruit touched with strawberries, and wrapped in oak tannins and wood spice, this reveals dry wood tannins on the midpalate with nice herb notes emerging on the backend followed by cut sour cherry fruit and tart strawberry notes. This is high acid and very tart red fruited for 2009 with plenty of oak showing. 90pts

2008 Clerico Barolo Pajana - Monforte

The chocolate woody nose is dark and slightly stewy with simple, sweet wood and vanilla aromas. This is a bit thick on entry, blocky with less underlying fruit, and a lot of wood tannin here, packed with tannins in fact.  Fairly compact in the mouth with small red fruits and a little tobacco that is having a tough time competing with all the wood. 87pts

2008 Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin - Monforte

Earthy on the nose with layered notes of tobacco, some licorice, fennel, and much more Nebbiolo character. The oak is well integrated, with sweet toast here and vanilla notes along with some weedy character and red berry fruit. with some weedy character. Round, opulent and powerful in the mouth with wild red fruits, some lingonberry, currant and raspberry, all showing lots of depth. This is showing sweeter tannins than the other 08s here with good clarity, and good length in a very powerful style. Rich and harmonious. 93pts

2007 Clerico Barolo Aeroplan Servaj - Serralunga

Badarina cru

A bit stewy on the nose with dark fruit, framed by sweet medicinal notes, a bit of grilled beef, and sweet wild red fruits topped with a hint  a of prune. Smooth on entry, and fairly high acid with dry tannins this shows a touch of cooked fruit quality in a very beefy, powerful without being dense style. Turning a bit ferrous on the palate, with some small wild cherry fruits and rich wild medicinal herbs, the oak grows on the nose turning the finish a bit peppery. A fairly good expression of Serralunga, sucking up the oak fairly well. 92pts

2005 Clerico Barolo Per Cristina - Monforte

Mosconi Cru

Lots of wood on the nose, a bit chocolately, with tobacco, mint, chocolate covered cherry aromas. This is surprisingly elegant on entry with nice focus, then the midpalate shows lots of wood tannin breaking above the dark fruit, rendering the wine rather simple. There’s nice depth on the palate, and this does show fine, tense sweet and slightly bitter herb tinged fruit under all the wood, but this is ultimately slathered in oak. 87pts

Giuseppe Rinaldi

One of the most traditional producer in all of Piedmont, and practicing organic to boot, these are wines that combine the power and elegance of Barolo in a fairly fruity style. In some ways these are some of the greatest tradional versions of Barolo, seeing as both wines are in fact blends and not crus. Recent changes in labelling laws might change things on that front but having tasted the 2010 Brunate from cask I have to admit that I would love to have that single vineyard wine in my cellar. In magnums please. These are wines that have their funky moments but a little bit of time, and faith seems to have worked wonders for me. Truly great wines that really must be tried and don't shy away from lesser vintages, they are often spectacular.

2009 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Cannubi Ravera

Bottled in March

Big fruit on the nose has a slight blueberry cast to it along with tobacco, nettle and spice accents and some sandy soil base notes. Elegant fine and transparent in the mouth this is fairly fruity, with nice inner mouth energy but it's not nervous The lovely wild raspberry fruit on the palate is supported by very ripe tannins and shows just a hint of tar on the backend with superb ripe fruit tannins This is really quite fruity today. 92pts

2009 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate le Coste

Smoky on the nose with deep notes of wild berry confiture topped with soil, tobacco, and rosebud aromas.  This is dense, polished, and spicy on entry with wild berry fruit that shows a forest floor edge. Very tight today but with fabulous balance, this exhibits ripe tannins and integrated acids in a very elegantly balanced, if large scaled entry turning finer on the finish. No doubt that this needs time to knit together, but already shows excellent length, and lovely clarity on the back end, if a bit of heat on the finish. 93pts


Another arch traditionalist, who in this case produces a single Barolo blended from four vineyards. This is the epitome of elegance in Barolo, with a deceptive early stage when the wine can seem to light and easy followed by a long, slow growth curve as the wines add weight, power, depth and complexity.  These wines have been getting better and better with the passage of time and continue to help set the benchmark for what Barolo can and should be. I hope these wines remains with us forever as they are a touchstone for the region.

2009 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

Intense raspberry fruit, ripe with woodsy edges and mineral, tea, and tobacco highlights topped with a touch of red rose petals all greet the nose. Wide open, and a bit soft on entry then full of intriguing rosehip and raspberry fruit with a little apple skins note and hints of  sandalwood on the palate. The tannins here are pretty ripe, but certainly prominent right through the slightly austere finish which shows some alcohol that is just barely perceptible. This has height and perfume in the mouth that is unusual for the vintage, with a fresh and traditional feel. 93pts


Oddero continues to fly somewhat under the radar though with thier vineyard holdings in some of the top crus being produced in a fairly traditional style one has to wonder why that still is. The quality here can be a bit variable, due in part to the variety of crus, as well as the winemaking, which has varied a bit in the past for various wines. Today all the crus undergo malo in barrique before being transferred to large format wood while the Classico Barolo sees only large format wood. These are wines that almost always have surprised on the upside after cellaring, turning out quite elegant.

2009 Oddero Barolo Classico

From vineyard in Chiese, Fiasco, and Capalot

This sees 60 days with cappelllo somersso and large format wood.  The crus see about 27 days followed by malo in barrique and a year in botte.

Light incense on the nose tops sweet raspberry and dusty cherry fruit aromas that pick up a cooked hot red soil, with an almost bricky and metallic tone to it. This is soft and almost lazy in the mouth, with decent tannin though this lacks focus in the mouth. There are nice flavors on the palate but this is not special, with a short finish in a style that is a bit clumsy. 86pts

2008 Oddero Barolo Classico

No cappello sommerso, 28 days fermentation.  Cappello sommerso only used when the vintage allows for full ripeness of stems and seeds

Much more perfumed than the 09 with the same profile rich with soil tones, licorice, rose petals, and a nice deep green anise seed savoriness and minty top notes. Again this is a bit soft, and a bit round in the mouth with a opulence that's unusual for the vintage This shows fine depth, very classic Classico, rich with great follow through, nice tannic cut and red fruit on the finale. 88pts

2009 Oddero Barolo Villero - Castiglione Falletto

High toned and soil driven on the nose, which is a bit smoky with subtle, stemmy herb notes and a base of clay. Direct and aromatic on entry is a soft and opulent style that is fruit driven. This has a seamless fell to it but is lacking some energy in the mouth. There’s a rich core with big slightly leathery tannins that lead to a bright finish with impressive cut and fine complexity but again it lacks some energy. 89pts

2008 Oddero Barolo Villero - Castiglione Falletto

Tight and herbal on the nose with hints of rose petals and sweet bay leaf, over tight, focused rusty red fruits. This is a bit tight on entry but it shows lovely focus, with significant potential for complexity. Lively and long on the palate this shows great freshness to the tannins which build on the plum skin toned finish. 90pts

2009 Oddero Barolo Rocche - Castiglione Falletto

A little reticent on the nose but this builds fine tobacco notes, over great lingonberry fruit that shows a little wood sweetness, cigar box, and a little sweet Cognac cream note.  Clear, firm, austere and bright in the mouth with red fruit cut by mineral notes in a powerful yet precise style. The tannins are ripe if just a touch bitter perhaps, though the are very well integrated with the black cherry fruit on the long, elegant finish.  93pts

2008 Oddero Barolo Rocche - Castiglione Falletto

A nice herbal edge shows up early on the nose followed by a fair amount of oak and leather. This is a bit soft with black fruit in the mouth in a fairly tannic, broad and low in the mouth style that is dark and muscular. It a bit small scaled, this none the less delivers lovely bitter black cherry fruit with a touch of a wild, animale character to it. 89pts

2008 Oddero Barolo Brunate - La Morra

Fresh if perhaps slightly fudgy on the nose which shows lots of ripe fresh fruit, a little smoky accent and a tight slightly vegetal floral topnote with lots of incipient tobacco character. In the mouth this is very fresh and a little tight, with good acids and nice abundant but ripe tannins supporting deep fresh if dark berry fruit, almost a little. Boysenberry. This finishes with power and depth delivering clean and bright fruit with excellent soil tone accents. A  very complete wine. 93pts

2006 Oddero Barolo Brunate - La Morra

This and Bussia 2006 are being released this year

Tight and showing some woody spice sweetness on the nose along with hints of a fudge and camphor framing ripe cherry pit fruit. Here the tannins are starting to show some softness. This is rich and powerful with an elegance, firm tannin, and a savory finish, that remains firm, clear and youthful, if tight, with big tannins. This has a beautifully spiced nose with an attractive incense character. 93pts

2006 Oddero Barolo Bussia - Monforte

Soil, leather, and spiced black cherry fruit greet the nose topped with a bit of cocoa, rose petal and baked peach pie. Air reveals a bit of VA here along with a huge leather note, tinges of balsamic, and a touch of game. Really a killer nose with super complexity. This is big and rich on the palate with dark clear fruits that show a bit of herbal/vegetal character in a root vegetable kind of way along with great fennel notes. With a long ripe finish, dusty tannins, and fine extraction of  clear black fruit this is a resounding success. 94pts

2005 Oddero Barolo Vigna Rionda - Serralunga

What a gorgeous nose with fine, focused rose notes along with tobacco, a little spice, mineral, a touch of flint, blood and aged beef all coming together. This shows a tight and focused feel though it is fairly open on the midpalate but with tight tannins that through a net over the finish, which does shows a touch of heat. The flavors of red fruits on the palate gain a little smoky edge to them and while this is a bit reticent, and perhaps slightly small scaled, the balance is compelling, lending this a bit of a regal feel. 92pts

Altare - La Morra

Altare has been a leading light of the modernist movement for decades now and is probably the producer that stick as closely as possible tot he style that the modernists emerged with in the late 1990s. I have had and enjoyed several of those wines but have to say that the wines tasted here today are disappointing to say the least. I found them light in a way, with very hightoned aroamtics, but at the same time over-oaked and a bit inky on the palate. Maybe the oak will integrate well and I will be proven wrong about these wines ut at this stage they struck me as neither complete wines nor well balanced. I can't say I see the appeal in these wines.

2009 Altare Barolo

From vineyards just under the winery in La Morra, Pernanno in Castiglione, adjacent to Cerretta in Serralunga, no new wood though it does stay in barrique for two years.

Nice dried fruit base notes greet the nose along with a touch of oak, and hints of rose petals and licorice in this simple, high-toned and nicely aromatic wine. There are nice acids early on the palate with a little touch of heat followed by lots of woody tannins that may be sweet but they are there. There’s a nice core of fresh fruit here though the savory wood influences tend to cover most of it up, and the finish is all tannins both fruit and wood. A modest wine with a lot of tannin. 85pts

2009 Altare Barolo Arborina - La Morra

High toned and aromatic on the nose but with lots of wood spice, making this simple but intense. This is smooth and polished in the mouth with fine grained tannins, broad wild macerated cherry flavors with hints of licorice, medicinal herbs and a little bit of mint on the back end. Another wine with lots of tannins, just wood and fruit and not much follow through, collapsing on itself on the finish into a black hole extracted fruit and oak. 84pts

2007 Altare Barolo Cerretta - Serralunga

Two extra years in bottle

Dark and earthy on the nose with some prune fruit aromas integrating with toasty wood, medicinal herbs, and some baking spices. This is opulent with lots of power on entry, in a focused and relatively elegant style that is absorbing the tannin fairly well.  Filled with dark and slightly anonymous fruit, there’s nice weight here, if this is a touch dense, with very attractive wild red berry fruit powering through on the rather short finish. This is still simple, very tannic and chewy. 87pts


Voerzio is among the most modern of producers, stressing low yields in the vineyard, and a modern style of winemaking that relies on tonneaux and barrique in the cellar. I have had a few Voerzio wines that I have enjoyed over the years, though they tend to not loose their oak but rather retain the powerfully concentrated fruit for quite some time.  Today we were "lucky" to try the full line-up, though we were lead to believe these bottles were open only a day early, they all showed signs of oxidation that could lead to only two conclusions. Either these bottles had been opened for much longer, three or four days feels about right, or else these wine just will not age that well. Since I can't know for sure I will leave the conclusion up to you. These are divisive wines, powerful, packed and chewy but for the style they are not unsuccessful, tending to be richly packed with fruit and alcohol with rather soft, mature tannins.

2009 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Cerequio - La Morra

40 yo

Opened twenty hours

A nice lightly jammy wild cherry note spread over a cedar shingle that has that dry wood note of old grey wood greets the nose. This shows nice liquory red fruit, a little red curranty, in a smooth style with good clarity on the palate, nice acid cut and fine grained tannins that build on the palate.  Fairly crisp, spicy strawberry fruit has to compete with lots of wood tannins on the finish, which is a bit short and fairly alcoholic, if filled with red fruits. 87pts

2009 Roberto Voerzio Barolo la Serra - La Morra

20 Year old vines, high density plantings

Nice notes of macerated flowers greets the nose along with wood spice, toasty oak, and some balsamic top notes.  Nicely rich and powerful on entry with good clarity on the palate and lots of ripe fruit supported by nice ripe tannins lending this a broad and yet transparent feel on the palate. This shows a little oxidation on the backend with a little rusty edge and finishes fairly short, though this shows some potential.  A bit chunky and fruity. 88pts

2008 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata Toriglione - La Morra

Filled with aromas of dark ripe fruit that have a bit of a sweet wild cherry coulis aspect to them are topped with meaty, balsamic, and dried beef perfumes. This is tight and slightly austere, very 2008 in character with nice acids and structural integration, though a little vegetable bouillon appears on the midpalate. This is integrating the wood fairly well, considering the powerful style here and the finish shows great length and good complexity. 91pts

2008 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate - La Morra

Older vines, low density plantings

Powerful aromas of beef blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of rust, dark fruit, and macerated medicinal herbs greet the nose. This is texturally packed on the palate, rich and yet with a touch of austerity. Nicely rounded tannins supported flavors that show flashes of mint and something vegetal along with a big follow through of root beer on the finish. This shows just a touch of alcohol and dry, chewy tannins on the moderately long finish. There’s a lot going on here but this is awfully dense today.  90pts

2003 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Fossati - Case Nere- La Morra

100% barrique, 20% new

Lots of ripeness on the nose, stewy and still oaky. This is fairly fresh on the palate considering the vintage, though it still shows some wood along with flavors of rich red fruits. This is a powerful wine with a rustic finish that shows a green edge to the tannins here.  You can sense that this might be an elegant wine in another vintage, even here it has rather succulent acidity that help to support the cola backend and rather liquory dense, chewy finish. 88pts

Aldo Conterno

The wines of Aldo Conterno have gone through changes over the years, being among the top wines in the late 1980s before losing ground to other producers as the family went through a period of transition and change. Today the wines produced here are real standouts for the region. They are among the frankly fruitiest Barolos produced, and yet they retain the structure and feel of a more traditional wine. They are proving to be hugely successful with consumers, and while they are not exactly the style of Barolo I prefer, one can hardly argue with the hedonistic pleasure these wines provide. Given the changing of styles here it's hard to get a read on how these wines will age, but I would guess that for the most part they will be medium term as opposed to long term wines, best consumed within their first 20 years or with all that fruit, though I would be happy to be proven wrong.

“I'm tired of people betting on Barolo, Barolo is not a gamble, I feel that our Barolo should be expressing more primary fruit.” Giacomo Conterno

2009 Barolo Bussia - Monforte

26 months in Slavonian botte

Plots outside of the crus yet within Bussia

Wow wild cherry, menthol, rose petal, a touch of exotic fruit, pomegranate maybe with a hint of India ink all greet the nose with power and clarity.  In the mouth this is pretty easy going with lots of pretty fresh yet simple if juicy, red fruits. There’s a nice tannic finish here with tons of licorice flavors and this is awfully well behaved, holding its alcohol very well at 15.3%. This is a bit Barolo-lite in a way, but this is very true to type and enjoyable, tart cherry, raspberry and plum notes with hints of rosehips and dried citrus rinds adding some detail to the inner mouth perfumes. This is a very fruity Barolo. 89pts

2009  Aldo Conterno Barolo Colonnello - Monforte

5400 bottles

More la morra style soil, more florl, more magnesium and manganese in the soil, others more clay in the soil so earthier, 360 meters, cicada is 405, romirascois 410

6 weeks skin contact, 26 months in botte

Rather perfumed and frankly fruity on the nose with a touch of carob and anise seed accenting rose petal flecked sour cherry and pomegranate fruit,all gaining a hint of white pepper and dusty white soil tones with air. Very smooth in the mouth with good acids and ripe tannins creating a wine that is both a bit dense and relaxed in the mouth with a fine core of wild red berry fruit, more lingonberry than cherry with leather, tree bark, soil and mineral notes all adding details. This does lack some energy in the mouth which may be a result of the vintage but this is rich and a little chewy on the back end, followed by a moderately long finish that shows a hint of mushroom and well framed, slightly candied raspberry fruit. 91pts

2009 Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala - Monforte

3.2 hectares, the steepest portion of the vineyard, 5800 bottles

Six weeks of skin contact, 29 months wood

Deep and rich on the nose with intense fruit, mineral and floral aromas that are a little wild, a little sauvage with salumi and cocoa accents, topped by slightly medicinal and minty accents.  Cool and compact on the palate, this has both richness and edginess with a lovey hint of sweetness to the wild cherry fruit on the palate. Here are some savory notes here, something minty/licorice and aromatic in the mouth. The tannins here are more angular than with the previous wines, and while this might be a little dense and weighty in the mouth this is a classy, intense, powerful and fruit driven wine. 92pts

2009 Aldo Conterno Barolo Romirasco - Monforte

3.8 hectares, 4900 bottles

31 months in wood

Super floral on the nose with intense perfumes of Middle Eastern spices, green spices, and turmeric. Smooth, polished and elegant on entry this exhibits lots of depth on the palate with good clarity even if this is a little chewy. The wild cherry fruit on the palate is intense without being frooty, carrying with it a lovely astringent edge. The fruit here definitely has wild candy notes with an innate sweetness one the palate, but it is also quite seamless with tannins that float away on the finish. This shows more heat than the previous two wines, though it also finishes with more savory and mineral accents to the small astringent red fruits that show fine persistence, though in the end one does find a little bubble gum fruitiness. People are going to love this. It’s structured and fruity! 93pts

2005 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia - Monforte

Used to be five week skin contact, malo during assembly of the crus, now starting with 2005 two months skin contact and co-fermented crus

Tight, muscular and angular on the  mineral laced nose that shows excellent perfumes of rosehips, orange rind,  dried flowers with a hint of iron and spice. This is gorgeous with excellent integration in the mouth. Just lovely with wide open fruit that shows a lightly burnished edge, with a light sweetness to the fruit but this is layered with savory, spiced, and dried herbs and floral elements. There’s a reserved sense of power to this wine with lovely follow through to the dusty, wild raspberry fruit on the finish. This is elegant and refined, with excellent complexity and length. 94pts

Giuseppe Mascarello

As we end this tour of Piedmont we come to my two favorite producers. First we arrive at Guiseppe Mascarello, a traditionalist who might even be doing something that are perhaps considered technically incorrect, and whose wines can be among the most deceptive, reticent, and frankly disappointing during periods in their youth but given time these wines explode with complexity and richness. These are terroir wines, very much of their place, and in the case of Monprivato are made from one of the few grand Cru vineyards in the Langhe. The track record established by Monprivato is an enviable one and the fact that the wine is produced in relatively large quantities, for the region,means that this world class wine remains affordable. I can't stress enough how fantastic these wines are and how they remain great values. Other vineyards also have produced some amazing wines, though with less consistency. The 2008 Santa Stefano is a knockout, as was the 2006 Villero.

2008 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Villero - Castiglione Falletto

Freshly opened bottle

Tight and clay driven on the nose, which also features aromas of rosehips, hot tar, fennel and wild strawberry. This is a pretty powerful wine, deep round and balsamic with very clear, lovely minerality, balsamic and floral highlights to the rusty red fruit all coming together in a light tight finish. There’s a beautiful ripeness to the tannins here with a little baking spice on the moderately long finish. This is decisive and elegant. 93pts

2008 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Santo Stefano – Monforte

Freshly opened bottle

25 to 27 days on the skins, aged in 30HL to 35HL botte depending on quantities.

Dark slightly minty and slightly herbal carob tinged wild raspberry fruit greets the nose followed by deep rosepetals and a little thistle. Powerful and dry on entry with superb acidity supporting raspberry fruit with a hint of red plum, pomegranate , and some rust notes on the transparent mid-palate. The finish is long, powerful and austere with a nice herb tinged spiciness to it. There might be a touch of alcohol showing on the finish but this is exceptionally well balanced and complete. 94pts

2008 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato - Castiglione Falletto

From a bottle open for 24 hours

Gorgeous nose filled with small strawberry and lingonberry fruit topped with intense rose petal aromatics, a little almost cinnamon sweetness, a hint of hazelnut nutella and a nice dusting of talc.  Bright and decisive on entry with soft tannins gently supporting almost sweet wild strawberry fruit. There are accent notes of rust, macerated flowers, and a hint of spice here all presented in a clear and tense style built upon lovely acidity. This exhibits length, purity and elegance, with such such clarity on the palate. It is a classic in the making. 94pts

2004 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca d'Morissio - Castiglione Falletto

Herb stem notes and limestone greet the nose followed by tart fruits, watermelon rind, salami, hanging game, and an incipient truffle note. This is tense in the mouth and showing a bit of density but remains wildly transparent.  Elegant and with the sneaky power of Mascarello, this is a tough stage to be trying this as it’s chewy and long with tons of tightly packed sweet fine grained tannins leading to a long mineral laced and woodsmoked topped finish. This is just beautiful, but it does need 20 years. 95pts

2003 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca d'Morissio - Castiglione Falletto

Big fruit on the nose but it's fresh, lightly smoky, broad, and sweet with dried orange rind notes, and hints of earth and rosewater. Very front loaded in the mouth with a round feel and nice mineral cut leading to a mid-palate that shows acids that seem a touch low. This is fairly classic with good complexity but this shows a little simple today, though with excellent freshness and power through the rich, tannic finish. This still has a lot in reserve. 93pts

Giacomo Conterno

Who produces the single finest wine of Barolo? You might get quite a few different answers tot his question but if you take a considered look that includes a historical perspective as well as the current release wines you would be hard pressed not to select Giacomo Conterno's Monfortino. For me there is no doubt and over the years I have put more Giacomo Conterno wines in my cellar than any other producer's. Having said that I buy very little today, not because the wines aren't still among the very best, in the world that is, but rather because the wines are receiving the recognition that they deserve and prices have risen accordingly. In absolute terms though these wines remain fairly priced, they are gorgeous wines, traditional yet cleaner and more precise than they have been in the past. The mMnfortino though is a wine for young people, as it takes two to three decades in the cellar in order to really hit its sweet spot. These are simply amazing wines and if you can't afford them you should make friends with someone who can. They are simply not to be missed.

2009 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Serralunga

A bit of wild mint and diesel shows up early on the nose along with some macerated huckleberry fruit. In the mouth this is tight, powerful and smooth, with acidity that is perhaps a touch low. Building slowly on the palate, this shows lots of chewy fruit skin tannins in a very young and unformed stage of its evolution. There’s real lightness and elegance here with limestone on the backend that really grows on the finish. The elegance and purity of fruit is attractive here but this does seem a bit soft and reticent today. Everything is in its place and the acidity does add some lift on the backend so I can’t imagine this not improving, still it seems like it will be fairly obvious. 92pts

2010 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Serralunga

Barrel sample - Incredible nose powerful and already complex, really like potpourri on the nose along with the essence of Nebbiolo black cherry fruit. This is mouth filling if transparent, with, awesome acidity, ripe tannins that are totally refined, really perfect ripeness, and fine stony fruit in the mouth and through the exceptionally long finish. This is going to make people cry. Best ever? 96-98pts

Elegance of 1985 with the power of 1989

2010 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cerretta – Serralunga

Two hectares, 6000 bottles

Thinking of bottling in magnum single bottle case

Barrel sample - Powerful on the nose in a  dark, tarry, stepped tea kind of way with aromas that are a little nutty and slightly vegetal with a touch of marmite, herbal/floral inky violets undertone. Powerful and smooth with bigger sweeter fruit than the Cascina Frnancia supported by super ripe tannins and great acidity. The succulent fruit is a little chewy and a touch rustic on the finish with real persistence to the fruit. The alcohol shows a touch on the finish. 93-95pts

2006 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino - Serralunga

A saturation of wild cherry, chamomile, slightly spicy heather and pink peppercorn aromas fill the nose. This is just so intensely fruity, with smoky, mineral and menthol notes adding complexity. Chewy with powerful acidity and packed with ripe tannins, this is powerful, deep  and packed with wild berry fruit, steeped tea, and dried herbs flavors. The mineral backbone here is phenomenal, and while this is very tannic, it is also very focused and tense with a long finish that, this keeps hammering away on the palate. Imagine smashing cherries on limestone with an old wooden hammer. Now imagine loving that. 96pts

Tenuta Montanello

Tenuta Montanello is a large estate in Castiglione Falletto occupying the ridge just to the north of Monprivato and roughly adjacent to Cavallotto's Bricco Boschis. The wines have improved during the relatively brief existence of the winery, since about 2000, and additional replantings of the vineyard should yield positive results in the coming decades. Today the Barolo is a little on the light side and as such shows its oak rather obviously, though I expect the potential of this Cru to slowly reveal itself as the vines mature and the proprietors become more confident with their work

2008 Tenuta Montanello Barolo - Castiglione Falletto

One year in French barrique, on third new. A second year in botte in six to eight-year-old Slavonian botte.

Wood on the nose immediately, a little sweet, cinnamon sugar and toasty spice lends this a nice woodsy note with a little stemmy spice just a touch green adding some freshness and detail. This is soft broad and a bit diffuse on the palate with a nice load of tannins but the wood tannins are more obvious. Showing nice fruity aromas of wild cherries, this shows good integration of oak on the backend as the wine finds a bit of a center. A bit small scaled and leaning more towards the modern than the traditional this retains a light, fairly airy feel to it. 87pts