Brunate, one of Barolo's finest crus and the source of outstanding and excellent Barolos from the 2005 vintage
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Enough about the mess in Montalcino, let’s turn our attention to a positive subject for Italian wines at the moment – the release of the new Barolos from the 2005 vintage.
You should realize that you will be subjected to a number of reviews in the coming months about the 2005 Barolos stating that these wines are not like the 2004s, which were outstanding. This is true, but unfortunate, as 2004 was a brilliant vintage for Barolo and brilliant just doesn’t come along every year – in fact, it doesn’t come along but once or twice a decade, if that much. So remember that, please.
So let’s be fair with the 2005 Barolos; this was a successful vintage and there are some excellent wines and even a handful of outstanding ones. The best offerings are medium-full with very good to excellent concentration, offer very good acidity and refined tannins. This is not a powerhouse vintage and the wines are not as complex in aromatics as the 2004s, but overall, these are very well made wines. The finest Barolos from 2005 will age for 15-20 years and while that is not as long as a great year such as 2004, 2001, 1999 or 1996, that is still impressive.
I tasted over 100 different Barolos from the 2005 vintage this past May in the city of Alba at the annual Alba Wines Exhibition. The wines were tasted blind, and as usual with this practice, I found many pleasant surprises along with a few disappointments. This is always an excellent tasting and my thanks to the hard-working staff of wellcom for their organization.
There were a few outstanding wines including the Bartolo Mascarello, Prunotto, the “Brunate” from Francesco Rinaldi and the “Gabutti” from Giovanni Sordo. The Prunotto was beautifully styled and is one of the best bottlings I’ve had from this producer in some time, while the Mascarello and Rinaldi are classic bottlings, made in a traditional style (aged only in large casks). These wines offer a lovely combination of spice, fruit and gentle tannins and are textbook representations of terroir. Barolo to me is all about terroir; the roundness and floral aromatics of the wines from La Morra standing next to the structure and firm tannins of the wines from Monforte or Serralunga, so I prize this distinctiveness far more than power or ripeness. As for the wine from Sordo, I’ve always liked the offerings from this small estate in Serralunga, but this cru bottling is as good as I’ve tasted; it’s a lovely wine with beautiful complexity.
Sergio Barale produced an excellent Barolo from the Cannubi vineyard in 2005
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Other excellent Barolos from 2005 include the Sergio Barale “Cannubi”; the “Brunate” from Oddero; Marcarini “Brunate”; Michele Chiarlo “Cerequio”; Fontanafredda “La Rosa"; the Massolino "Margheria"; the "Ravera" from Elvio Cogno; the Prapò bottling of Ceretto and the Famiglia Anselma bottling.
There are several more bottlings I’ve rated as excellent; you’ll be able to read about these wines in the upcoming Fall issue of my Guide to Italian Wines. This will include reviews not only reviews of the 2005 Barolos, but also the excellent 2006 Barbarescos (tasted in Alba the same week as the Barolos) as well a few dozen new releases of wines from Campania. To learn about subscribing to my Guide to Italian Wines, click here.