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WTN: Il Barbaresco a Tavola, Rist. Antine, 21 May


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I attended one of the three Barbaresco a Tavola dinners during my trip to Italy. For those unfamiliar with the festival, it's a celebration of the newly released vintage of Barbaresco that occurs on the last three Fridays of the month of May. 20-25 Barbaresco are poured with a degustazione of typical Piemontese cuisine.

I made the reservation at Antine in January to ensure that I would have a table for the event.

Andrea Sottimano was the person responsible for pouring the wines of the evening. The method was a central table with all the wine on it, and each person had two Burgundy stems at their placesetting to bring up and have the wines of their choice poured.

There were some great wines, some not so great wines; some well known producers, and others that I was discovering for the first time. I tasted all 22 wines served that evening, but unfortunately I had a couple pens die on me and I wasn't able to write notes on the remaining bottles.

And now, the wines:

2001 Marco e Vittorio Adriano Barbaresco Basarin

Light ruby with orange tinges to an orange rim. Aromas of cherry, mineral, dried violets, anise, spice, earth, and a bit of alcohol. Medium-bodied with cherry and earth. Dry and a little tannic. Quite traditional. Short-moderate length finish, ~20-25s. 85 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Cascina Bruciata Barbaresco Rio Sordo

Pale garnet colour with orange tinges to a pink/orange rim. Aromas of cherry, herb, earth; quite austere. Medium-full bodied with red berry fruit, spice, and leather. Moderate, slightly dry finish, ~30-35s with berry notes. 86 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Ca'Del Baio Barbaresco Asili

Medium-dark garnet colour to a pink rim. Aromas of Indian spice, licorice, black figs, dried roses, and blackberries. Medium-full bodied with black crushed fruit, violets, and earth. Tannins are present, but very fine. Long finish, ~45-50s with hints of orangade. Needs time. 90 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Cascina delle Rose Barbaresco Rio Sordo

Light/medium garnet colour to oranging rim. Aromas of alcohol, roses, orange rind, truffles, earth, and cardamom. Medium-full bodied with black figs, alcohol, blackberries, and wet earth. Finish of 30-35s with black fruits. Needs time, but is very nice. 90 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Cascina Luisin Barbaresco Suri Paolin

Light garnet colour with orange tinges to an orange/pink rim. Lots of pretty legs. Pretty nose of roses, violetes, truffles, cherries, earth, currant, mocha, and figs. Medium-full bodied with black fruits, mint, and mocha. Solid tannins; good structure. Moderate 30-35s finish with black fruits. Should improve with time. 89 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco

Light garnet with orange tinges to an orange rim. Aromas of minerals, tuna, cherries, cream soda, earth, and citrus rind. Medium-bodied with cherries, spice, earth, milk chocolate. Moderate length finish, ~35-40s, with spice and cherries. 84 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Fattoria San Giuliano Barbaresco

Medium-dark garnet colour to a pink/orange rim. Aromas of truffles, wet earth, cherries, violets, minerals, spice, and mocha. Medium-full bodied - a lush but traditional wine showing excellent integration. Truffles, earth, roses, violets, mocha and cherries on the palate. Long finish, ~45-50s with mocha and rose notes. 93 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Carlo Giacosa Barbaresco Montefico

Medium ruby colour with orange flecks to the oranging rim. Aromas of cherries, earth, spice, tar, and animal fur. Medium-full bodied with cherries, earth, tar, and roses. Moderate finish with spice notes, ~30s in length. 87 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Grasso F.lli Barbaresco Sori Valgrande

Ruby colour with orange streaks to an orange rim. Aromas of cherry and earth. Medium-full bodied with cherry, earth, spice, and dried violets. Traditional wine showing a 30-40s finish with spice and earth notes. 87 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Mainerdo F.lli Barbaresco

Light ruby red with orange tinges to a pink rim. Aromas of minerals, earth, cherries, violets, and orange rind. Medium-bodied, fresh tasting, with cherry, earth, minerals, and roses on the palate. Short finish with cherry notes. 85 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncaglie

Garnet colour with orange flecks to a pink/orange rim. Aromas of cherries, dried flowers; opens to show some hints of mocha. Medium bodied with integrated tannins. Not showing much other than cherries and berries. A little simple. Short finish, ~15s. Disappointing. 82 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco

Light ruby red with orange flecks to an oranging rim. Fat legs. Aromas of cherries, earth, orange rind, dried roses, licorice, and truffles. Medium-full bodied with red fruits, violets, and indian spice. Firm, but not overwhelming tannins. Moderate-long finish, ~40-45s with spice and cherry notes. A very nice normale from the Produttori. This bodes well for their single-vineyard Riservas when they are released. 89 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Ressia Barbaresco Canova

Light garnet colour to an oranging rim. Aromas of cherries, earth, cherry blossoms, minerals, and roses. Medium-full bodied with red fruit, and dried flowers. Short finish, ~15-20s. 83 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Roagna Barbaresco Paje

Light garnet colour to orange rim. Aromas of grapefruit rind, orange blossoms, cherries, and earth. Medium-bodied with integrated tannins. Kind of flat in the mouth; not much there. Very short finish. Not recommended; the least enjoyable wine of the evening. 70 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Coparossa

Dark ruby colour with garnet tinges to a pink rim. Aromas of violets, orange blossoms, cherries, raspberries, truffles, and dark chocolate. Medium-full bodied with black fruits, figs, truffles, and currant. Long finish, ~40-50s with black fruits. 91 points (05/21/2004).

2001 Mario Amero Barbaresco Suri Canova

Medium ruby red with orange flecks out to the rim. Medicinal nose with cherry, mineral, band-aid, stems, earth, roses, and violets. Medium-bodied showing cherries, herbs, tar, and spice. Short finish, ~15s. Not recommended. 72 points (05/21/2004).

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...yes, but what did you think of the food? I like Antine very much and have had two excellent meals there this year alone.

All in all I would say to my palate I find your scoring a little harsh on some of these wines. At the same time I think the 2001's are very difficult to taste at the moment - tannic with unresolved fruit. When you taste these bottles over several days they improve greatly. Also did you notice the very young wines taste better at the estate - where they have been moved little. Even short trips seem to close up extremely young nebbiolo for a while.

The one wine I would certainly debate is the 2001 Roncoglie from Poderi Colla which I would rate as an excellent wine (mid 90's) and one of the top Barbaresci of the vintage. I have now tasted this wine on three separate occasions with consistent notes. This delicate and elegant wine can only suffer when tasting so many young wines at once.

The key to the Colla wines is that they pick their fruit when it is ripe, but not a bit overripe. They prefer to avoid the super-maturity that has become the fashion in winemaking today. While this makes for very closed Barolo and Barbaresco in their youth it makes for spectacular wines a few years down the road. The passion of this producer for the "purity" of nebbiolo fruit in their wines may not be a good commercial idea, but it is indeed a creative statement that has my full respect and appreciation. In fact, the next issue of Piemonte! will feature a 4 page profile of this producer and their vineyards.

All in all, I find the 2001 Baroli and Barbaresci the most consistently excellent of all the current string of great vintages with my average scores running several points higher than 2000 and just a notch higher than 1999.

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The food was very good at Antine, but it was a set menu created by the Barbaresco group. I'm told that Chef Andrea's regular menu is even more stellar. I'll post notes/menus/etc for all the meals I had in Italy in the appropriate forum when I get a chance to type them up.

I agree that these wines would have improved over a couple days, or even an hour in a decanter. They are very tight and tannic, which makes them difficult to analyze at times. I can't comment on your last point, however - nothing I tasted at an estate was also poured at Antine.

With respect to the 2001 Roncoglie, I understand your stance. Believe me, I was really looking forward to drinking this wine, especially after reading your comments on it coupled with the fact that I like Colla's wines. It was the third or fourth wine of the night that I tasted, and only traditional wines preceded it. I wanted to revisit the wine later in the evening from the other bottle, but it was empty. I would like to try this wine again, so hopefully I'll be able to buy a couple bottles when it arrives on store shelves in a year or two (don't ask). It will likely be more expressive at that time due to the extra bottle age.

From what I tasted, I agree with your vintage assessment. The 2000s will be approachable sooner due to their opulent fruit, whereas the 2001 will age more gracefully due to the better structure and balance.

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