Barolo “Marchesi di Barolo” reserve: the vertical proposal of MeranoWine2013

Among great Italian wines, I think that Barolo expresses itself best in time and this is why a vertical tasting with 10 years of production ranging between 2009 and 1951is a truly special occasion. Thanks to Ian D’Agata, who organized a tasting at the Meraner Wein Festival, I had the pleasure of guiding, together with Alessandro Bocchetti, a nice crowd of enthusiasts in an exciting journey back in time.

This producer is one of the most important in the Langhe Albesi area, their historic cellars in the heart of Barolo are a beautiful example of industrial archaeology: they have been tastefully renovated by Anna and Ernesto Abbona and are a point of reference for thousands of tourists that visit the area every year.

The wine chosen for the tasting was the Barolo reserve that has always been the producer’s flagship. The grapes originate from the white land of the municipality of Barolo: the clay-rich chalky soils give the grapes an elegant power that enables them to develop complexity in the years following the grape harvest.

The wine-making of the Marchesi di Barolo reserve has always been very traditional, with precise timeframes and continuously evolving to capture the spirit of the vintage.
We tasted 10 wines produced between 2009 and 1951 and here are the important notes:
1958: a marvellous wine, elegant and brilliant with a nose that perfectly defines the best traits of the denomination: violet, rose and truffle. The taste will surprise thanks to its freshness, integrity and intensity.
1985: a great interpretation of a crucial year in the recent history of Barolo: it was the time of Barolo boys, do you remember? The wine is powerful and harmonious, stretched and rich. To be drunk in large quantities!
1974: perfect execution of a vintage that was as fascinating as it was irregular, the nose is tense and slightly difficult, but the taste reveals a surprising depth and freshness that are supported by an alive and vibrant tannin.
1999: a wine that echoes Burgundy aromas, an essential structure that is perfectly harmonious and very dynamic.
1951: the surprise! The earliest vintage that Ernesto Abbona chose was aimed at highlighting the character of his reserve. The nose is full-bodied and mature with a hint of evolution that is more than justified after 61 years. The taste reveals a typical and present wine that expresses the essence of the denomination.
1964: legendary vintage and very good bottle, just below expectation. The wine’s equilibrium is played on a warm maturity harmonically balanced between nose and flavour.
1979: a decisive year in the history of Barolo, with the arrival of modern oenology that overturned and in some cases upset the noble traditions, while still waiting for the DOCG recognition. A fascinating wine, almost suspended between two periods that compete for our attention: a modern and almost tense nose and an intense, classic and warm flavour.
2005: another personal choice made by Ernesto Abbona, as it’s one of the most underrated vintages in recent times. The wine is very young, the hints of wood are still evident, but perfectly in line with the producer’s style and I foresee a brilliant aging, even if not endless.
1990: a vintage that is considered exceptional, a wine that I found a little inexpressive as it’s obviously in a period of closure. To be tasted again in a few years because the fresh sapidity tells of the need for a slow and lengthy ageing.
2009 cannubi: the youngest wine of the series was also the only one outside the scheme, not reserve but selection of the most famous Barolo vineyard. The youth of a warm and generous year influences the judgement that scores small hints of wood to the nose and an intense flavour and almost still winey.

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