Bravo Barolo! – Italian trip to taste the 2004's

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March 12th 2008

News of the stature of the 2004 Barolo vintage is already circulating. The Wine Advocate is incredibly positive, so with eager anticipation I left the cold blustery horror of Luton last Monday bound for Turin to meet Robin our wine buyer and get in amongst it.

Luigi Pira was our first stop. It is always a marginal language challenge here but thankfully Giampaulo Pira’s wife is an accomplished translator. Dolcetto 2007 was our first taste, and wow it was fabulous, crunchy raspberry and cherry fruit, a bit like a Beaujolais on steroids. Delicious lightly chilled and a sensational vintage. We tasted through his Barbera d’Alba and Nebbiolo 2006, both delicious and then it was time for the mighty 2004’s. He makes 3 single “crus” and a straight Barolo, my favourite was the Barolo Marenca 2004, notes of mocha, chocolate, black cherry, leather, really gorgeous texture, and a 40 + second finish – I loved it and it was my joint favourite wine of the week. Interestingly Giampaulo prefers his 2003, and as luck would have it we have a few cases left! We finished with the incredible Barolo Vigna Rionda 2004, again amazing and a high point scorer.

Revello's Vineyards
Revello’s Vineyards

From there we headed to Cavallotto the most traditional of our Barolo line up. These wines are beautiful, full of finesse and poise and we were enthusiastically looked after by Laura Cavalotto who despite a searing migraine could not stop opening bottles including a rare chance to taste their single cru Vignolo v’s Vigna San Giuseppe both from the great 1997 vintage. Both are Riservas which is the highest grading in the area. Dinner was magic at Ristorante le Torri in Castiglioni Falletto, braised lamb a triumph with the remains of the 1997 Vignolo, and Margarita their English Bull dog who’s under slung jaw looks hysterical.

Tuesday involved an amazing visit to Rocche dei Manzoni, an extraordinarily lavish set up, with wines to match, music regaled the bottles lying in a purpose built frescoed underground chapel! Not sure we will be offering the wines but a treat to experience the set up.

Carlo Revello, a supreme individual makes a more modern style of Barolo, with the most wonderful labels. We tasted his Dolcetto and Barbera’s. For me the best was his oak aged Barbera, Ciabot du Re 2006, smoky plum fruit, great texture and lovely black, sweet, rich fruit, drink in five years. He also makes 4 “crus” of which the Conca and Annunziata ran a very close race for top wine. Sadly production of the latter is a miserable 1000 bottles so you will need to order rapido. We tasted some older vintages to see how his wines evolve. Both were served blind and we guessed correctly, luck was with us; Barolo 1996 has lovely earthy leather, truffle, gamey aroma with hints of pancetta and plenty of tannin typical of the vintage, Barolo Conca 1997 was gorgeous, supple tannins, delicious deep cherry, earthy, rich and wonderful. If the 2004’s turn out to be half as good which is the suggestion we are in great shape – fill your Gucci boots!