New York City, Friday the 13th 1/13/2012: This tasting of Barolo and Barbaresco from 1978 and 1982, two of the most memorable vintages in The Langhe turned into a horizontal of 1978 after all but one of the 82's (including Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Stefano Di Neive) happened to be off.
1978 in The Langhe: I definitely wasn't around in 1978 but apparently it was a surprising vintage after irregular bud break with which the plants held little fruit going into a rather cool summer. A month before harvest though, the region saw a magnificent sunshine and heat that was steady and balanced by cool nights which led to rich and aromatically expressive fruit at harvest time.
There was quite a lot of variation in the 78's which I think is partially due to change in storage and relocation during the 30+ years after their release.
1978 Roagna, Barbaresco Crichet Paje'. The first wine i actually tasted and was stunning right off the bat. It also ended up being my favorite and the best all around in terms of healthy fruit and expression on that night. This very special Riserva from Roagna is only released on exceptional vintages from the best selected fruit in the Paje' vineyard. It is very traditional and undergoes maceration with submerged cap for 80-100 days and then spends around 8 years in French and Slavonian Oak. This wine was drinking really unique showing balance, sweaty red fruit, earth and barn. Delicate yet strong, I could only describe it as sweaty socks prancing through a cherry field.
1978 Cavalotto Brico Boschis, Barolo. Still big tannins and some fruit. Almost feeling like it was stubborn and closed and had something else to offer just not that day.
1978 Cappellano, Barolo. This wine was pretty long and casual until the back palate morphed into an aftertaste of blood. It actually felt like biting into somebody's neck, or that sensation you get when you taste your own blood.
1978 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Rabaja'. I really wish I tasted this wine earlier on. It was actually decanted because it was so big and bound up in the beginning. First taste was super seductive terroir that I can't really put into words. Healthy fruit with great hope, but a big failure in the back palate as the wine just disintegrated leaving you with a thin wateriness in the end. After hours of being decanted I believe this wine had a perfect drinking period that night but I missed it.
1990 Ciacci Piccolomini, Brunello di Montalcino. This spends four years in Slavonian oak and surprisingly wasn't showing that much more youthful than some of the 78 Barolo. There was a lot of pencil led, meat, frutti di bosco and barnyard.
1982 Luciano Sandrone Barolo. One of the off bottles, slightly oxidated but with a notably rich nose of Moroccan spices that was mind blowing. On the palate it was not like this at all. Tasted mostly unbalanced and weird but not so off that you couldn't taste it. I would like to taste a healthy version sometime to see exactly how off this bottling was.
1982 Prunotto, Barbaresco Riserva, Montestefano. I had a longer time to be able to analyze this Barbaresco. I drank it a day after being opened and really got to enjoy the brilliant orange Nebbiolo hue. Coming from one of the Baroloesque vineyards in Barbaresco It was quite pleasing and in good shape. Still with enough lively acidity, some masculine fruit and barnyard notes that kept opening up more and more in the Burgundy glass.
1975 Freiherr Langwerth Von Simmern Rauenthaler Baiken Riesling. This wine was absolutely awesome. Hard to find notes on the winemaking, but with it's botrytized character on the nose and remarkable complexity on the palate it reminded me of the great ways in which you would describe a Chateau d'Yquem. Really lengthy lasting 2-3 minutes in the mouth and morphing through classic rich apricot and honey notes but being balanced the entire time with a big riesling acidity.