I had the opportunity to taste some different forms of Nebbiolo with a couple friends at home the other night. We each provided a bottle and were able to explore the differences between aged and younger Barolo, modern and traditional Barolo, and the difference between Barolo and Barbaresco. I whipped up a braised elk roast with mushroom risotto to pair with the wines.
The 1971 Barisone was really fun to taste. By far the oldest Barolo I’ve been able to taste, it was still quite enjoyable. Definitely in the older flavor spectrum, the nose was captivating with lots of savory dried mushroom and sous bois, dried orange peel, dried cherry, and dried floral notes. There were a few oxidative notes of toasted walnut that were reminiscent of Madeira. The palate was still showing quite vibrant acidity, fully resolved tannins, and the dried fruits and floral notes showed quite well. It was a lovely wine for me, but not one you would enjoy if you don’t like older wines. The interesting story behind this wine which I purchased on a recent release from the Rare Wine Co is that it is a merchant bottling (Osvaldo Barisone) of a wine actually made by Francesco Rinaldi. Back in the ’70s when Barolo was not a hot commodity as it is now, many growers would sell part of their production to merchants who would bottle and sell the wine with their own labels (similar to Burgundy’s negociant system). This is pretty much non-existent now. So it really is a ’71 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo!
The 2006 Enzo Boglietti Barolo Fossati is a totally different type of Nebbiolo comparatively. Fossati is an MGA that straddles the border between the villages of La Morra and Barolo. According to the Alessandro Masnaghetti encyclopedia of Barolo, the wines from Fossati are often powerful and structured. This was my first example of a wine from there. Boglietti makes his Barolo in a more modern style. The color was darker with a richer and darker nose. Still has some of the classic flavors with plenty of tar and tobacco notes, floral scents, and darker fruits with black cherry and black currant. There are some hints of wood spice as well, but they aren’t overwhelming. It is a dense and rich wine on the palate with plenty of structure, but the tannins are pretty plush and manageable with food. Overall I found this enjoyable, but I found the wood spice a little distracting and still overall prefer the more traditional styled wines.
The 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva was excellent and another example of the very solid values that the wines from this producer offers. It also shows that the 2011 vintage is drinking very well early for Nebbiolo. I have had a few bottles now of 2011 Barolo and Barbaresco and all have been open and enjoyable. This was no exception, more in the traditional style with light ruby color, the nose is just pure Nebbiolo essence. Crushed flowers, mint, bright cherry, anise, tar, tobacco, and damp earth. The palate is very elegant and suave, with beautiful texture and flavor, yet remaining light and ethereal. These wines are great intro to the Nebbiolo grape as the non-riserva bottles are pretty affordable (usually around $30) and drink as well as wines priced 2-3x as much.
All in all it was a lovely evening and fun to explore the differences that can be found in different styles of Nebbiolo!