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The 'Big Love' for Wines: A Tasting of Mature Barolo(1955-1989)

Last Friday's(21 March 2013) 18 Barolo afficionados gathered to review some classic scents of tar and roses from the gently rolling slopes of Piedmont. And the 12 Barolo bottles clearly showed that they are worthy for the adage that they are “ wines of kings; the king of wines" .


All the vintages chosen are recognized as excellent Barolo vintages, notably the 1989, now beginning to really open out to show its full potential. All the wines can be described as mature, having emerged from what I believe is the longest of all dumb phases a varietal can go through.

Corks pulled 230pm. Older wines 5pm. Older wines decanted prior to pouring.

The line-up is as follows:

1955 Borgogno Barolo Riserva

1958 Cappellano Barolo 1964 Borgogno Barolo Riserva

1967 Aldo Conterno Barolo 1967 Scarpa Barolo 1971 Sobrero Barolo 1989 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 1989 G. Mascarello Barolo Monprivato 1989 Cavallotto Barolo 1989 Ceretto Barolo Brunate Dinner wines: 2009 Bruno Giacosa Arneis (white) 1995 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto 1964 Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1959 Solaria Jonjca, Ferreri (red dessert wine)

1955 Borgogno Barolo Riserva. Full expression of soil, with varietal character(Nebbiolo) fading into minute subtlties: dried fruits , tobacco and leather, savoury game. A mix of an old Chinese tea chest and an old Chesterfield Lounge. Yeast and dry porcini. This bottle is tired.

1958 Cappellano Barolo. Orange and hazy and complete disappearance of red color. Is that an orange juice? Behold, that youngish nose of black & red fruited mix, with a lift of cherry-menthol, blowing a clean wind. Oh, Peter, Paul and Mary should be around. This wine fills out its edges on the palate with a fruit creaminess, then there's an alluring varietal austerity in the middle, prior a mix of tertiary fruit complexity dancing off toward the long finish. I saw an old man with a flirtatious air!

1964 Borgogno Barolo Riserva. This replaced the Scavino in the original line up. Deep scented and vigorous, dark violet fruit aromas. Mushroom and wet leather emerge in the tertiary spectrum. With some dustiness, the flavors mimic the aromatics. Fresh on the finish with just a hint of tertiary nuttiness in the flavor persistence. Another 50-year-old man botoxed?

Even more intriquing is the 1967 Aldo Conterno Barolo which juggles skilfully between modernism and tradition. It’s Modern in the sense of the great ‘mutton’ nose, purity of fruit.; it’s Traditional in terms of the unyielding palate and structure. On palate, structurally balanced- tannins, acidity, alcohol-leaving behind a soft, silky and creamy finish. A wine with 47 years! Who really need ‘modernism’.

The underated ones of the evening are 1967 Scarpa Barolo which disappoints with a slight corky nose. That could have a greet one if it was open 3 years ago. Provocative colour: deep ruby, medium rim! That cannot be the colour after 47 years! Is this a genuine wine, or really we lost the luck to be able to see her true face?

1971 Sobrero Barolo. Cascade of red and black fruits, both sweet and dried, hopefully gives an idea of the wine's complexity. There's a herbal lift and just when the fruit appears to fade and breeze of fresh pine reinvigorates the aromas. Round.

1989 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato. Red lolli-pots. Palate flavors are a kaleidoscope courtesy of the fruit/oak mesh. Divine modernism with enough fruit freshness to balance the potentially dry cedar wood notes on the finish. This is still a baby.

1989 Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato. Rose petals, stewed red fruits, violets, yet a definite aroma of tar & smoke. Beautiful raspberry fruit with blackberry tones. Firm palate: fruity and definitely powerful showing clear indication that this is a wine that needed more time to soften up. Raw tar & marmite gives a burnt blackberry like dimension to the fruit which mixes beautifully with the mineralized raspberry like red fruits. Regal, princely.

1989 Cavallotto Riserva Vigna San Giuseppe Barolo. Unyielding. There's some autumnal and treacle like development prying away from dominating juicy red and black fruits. Grippy back palate tannin. One adolescent.

1989 Ceretto Barolo Brunate. Unyielding. Polished, almost varnished red and black fruits, tar and soft rose notes. Sour cherry. Very long and crafted wine, a touch austere. Another adolescent.

Dinner wines

2009 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis.- ripe and almost tropical. Delicate hint oif nuttiness. But just a little more acidity will bring better life to this babt.. But indeed it was the perfect foil for a break from Barolo and a sea food basket of Fresh White Pearl oysters with poached clams, scallops and octopus, Sea urchin espuma, avocado, brocollini, caviar, cucumber. This is the most yummy dish my new career start.

2005 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto. Back to civilization. A clean wine blowing classic scents of tar and roses from the gently rolling slopes of Piedmont. Soft but commanding flavors; lots of sweet blood orange like fruit amongst tarred dark fruits.

Ferrari Solaria Jonica 1959- Intriguing! Chinato & Port like with sticky, treacle edges. Desert Primitivo from Piedmont, 50 years old, another great yarn! It’s a wine!


That tasting also shows my friends’ intriguing Big Love for the wines. I would imagine If not for this Big Love for wines, why anyone would age these wines for so long?

Suddenly I am overwhelmed by a sense of defeatism. I feel like I am just a little wine ‘ma-fu’.

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