bit slow to open on night one. day 2: showing classic profile, cherry, rose petal, great ripe fruit in mid with a powerful backbone. sour cherry with a hint of spice and tannin on finish. IMO needs time.
Very enjoyable and balanced Barbaresco with old world character elements. Light rusty rim. Moderately strong loamy smell at first but then transitions to classic Piedmont profile after two hours decanting. My guests and I got dried red fruit, tanned leather, pipe tar, and red licorice extract in a "stew" typical of the region. In the mouth it had great acidity, decent fruit, and just enough tannin to make it go brilliantly with the Northern Italian fare.
Decanted for 20 minutes and throughout a 90 minute dinner. Wonderfull aroma of tart cherry, spice, and licorice at first. The cherries and leather dominated the palate, and were accompanied by soft tannins. I don't get any floral notes as others have suggested. Wonderful (94) for the first hour out of bottle. But then the fruit faded and stronger dusty tannin appeared, leaving only licorice on the palate. Had I drank only the later half of the bottle, I would score it a 90. Will drink my remaining bottles within 3-4 yrs.
Bev & Rob's Fri nite blind: Insanity in a bottle. This is a "why I drink wine" bottle. Had been opened and slowly consumed over 3 days, put back in the cellar under cork each night. We pulled the remaining wine out at the end of our blind tasting to get some "Italian perspective". Wow. Light ruby/tawny at the core, fading to a tawny/almost colorless rim. Nose of tobacco, tar, tart red cherries, menthol, ash, truffles, the list goes on and on and on. Palate showed a med bodied wine at 13.5% abv, with sappy tart red fruit pitted against earthy tobacco and tar flavors, perfectly balanced with med+ acidity and astringent, leathery tannins that always seem to show up in great Italian wines as they mature and integrate. Med+ finish of cigar box, truffle, and sour cherry, goes on and on as the acid and tannins trade places for front and center on the palate stage. Utterly seamless...even after 3 days opened. Delicious now, drinking beautifully, and will continue to do so through 2020 or thereabouts.
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(Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabają) Bricking medium red color with pale meniscus; tart red fruit, very tart plum, dried cherry nose; light-medium bodied, tart red fruit, charcoal, dried berry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts.
(Cortese RABAJA Barbaresco) 2004 Barbaresco Magnum (and Double Magnum)
This is a special offer and it’s the result of a lot of hard work and prodding. If you are looking for a few large formats that should increase in value over the years, this is your chance.
Like 2005 red Burgundy, there seems to be no end in sight for 2004 Barbaresco and Barolo pricing. If for no other reason than they are 2004 (and they are very rare), the wines below should have interesting value on the secondary market in a few years. This set of hand bottled magnums and double-magnums is part of a limited series that is not technically commercially available (not even in Italy). You could go to the winery and convince them to “make” you one but, other than that, this is probably the only other way to obtain one.
From the best barrels of the 2004 Rabaja, these are akin to an auction-level German wine that few will get the chance to taste. They only produced a few dozen magnums and double magnums in this lot (I think there are only 12 double-magnums) so this is quite exciting, even for me. All bottles will be signed by the winemaker as authentication.
I will say this in advance - THIS OFFER IS EXTREMELY LIMITED. Throw your hat in the ring but please be kind to Niki - she will do her best with allocations.
The original 750ml offer for the regular Rabaja is below (if you need a reminder of my enthusiasm for the wine):
2004 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco “Rabaja” 1.5lt
2004 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco “Rabaja” 3.0lt
Expect both formats to arrive in perfect condition at some point this spring (late May/early June)
- Jon Rimmerman *********************** (original 750ml offer for the Rabaja)
For the price of a decent bottle La Spinetta Barbera (or something like that) you can have this - Cortese’s single vineyard homage to the great old wines of Barbaresco from a vintage that has so much pent up demand, it is almost like 2005 Burgundy.
This wine reminds me of a magnum of 1969 Gaja Barbaresco we enjoyed at the Per Se Christmas dinner a few year ago - it is a decided throwback to the days when subtlety and grace meshed with the unmistakable mid-weight power of Nebbiolo. The rosewater and feminine aromatics that gave Barbaresco (and much of Barolo for that matter) a signature, heavenly style throughout the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s has been lost in recent years (due to a changing climate and more new oak and extraction) but this wine rekindles that flame.
One has to remember, the wines of 1978 and other “power” vintages were not just about sheer size and weight when they were released - they were austere, medium bodied and old-world in palate presence with low glycerols that have gained weight, structure, nuance and complexity with age. By contrast, many of today’s examples have huge glycerols, size and weight on release - a very different starting point for evolution. Whether that style change is intentional or not, it is unclear if the wines will age in the same way as their predecessors (especially the cuvees that are produced with a decidedly modern approach).
Burgundy aficionados that are also loves of aged Nebbiolo should pay particular attention to this offer. The symbiotic relationship between an aged Richebourg and a fine bottle of Barolo (or Barbaresco) is more than skin deep as both wines can showcase the mysterious, medium bodied nature of a magical chameleon and both are just as reliant on aromatics as they are on palate impact. The greatest examples of Pinot Noir and of Nebbiolo need not be tasted to reveal their greatness - only a single sniff will transport you to another time and another place in the consciousness of your own mind.
That brings us (finally...) to today’s wine - Cortese’s much anticipated single vineyard Barbaresco from the Rabaja vineyard, still priced like his 1997 or 1999 Rabaja. For a vintner to keep his price at this level in the most anticipated vintage since 1990 says more than the exceptional quality of the wine itself. Despite a near meltdown in Dollar/Euro value (anyone checked the Euro this morning? How about 1.55/Dollar?), the Cortese family has lowered their profit margins when it seems that everyone else is taking extra helpings at the profit table. This should be rewarded with our strongest support.
What about the wine? In the fewest words, it is liltingly gorgeous. It is feminine, graceful, lovely and so very adult in style - it is why we drink and cellar wine. This is an example for those that prefer not to be brow-beaten, but to be seduced into the lair of the white worm or, in this case, into the lair of a vintners dream to return to basics and showcase just how pure his indigenous varietal can be - all without smoke and mirrors. Here, you get the delicate but still substantive fruit of a great Nebbiolo aged in a jigsaw puzzle of different cooperage (very large and very small, some as old as 20 years) and the resulting wine should age into rose petal satin...for decades.
Decanter sums up this wine perfectly (I could have penned this tasting note): “2004 Cortese Barbaresco Rabaja: Delicate perfumed nose of roses. Ample fruit, rich but not at the expense of vigor and freshness, fine acidity and length."
One of the great bargains left in Barbaresco from a vintage they could have doubled in price in and still sold every bottle in a flash. If you don’t normally purchase within this price range, today’s offer may be worth a splurge as the wine is so underpriced versus other examples from the vintage (just look at Bruno Rocca’s Rabaja or Giacosa’s Rabaja). In addition, as far as potential auction values are concerned, I don’t think your investment will be in vain as most wines from 2004 will increase in value over the next few decades (just see anything from 1978 or 1982 at this point).
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a throwback example of transparency in a vintage where the temptation to over-extract was too much for many...
ONE SHIPMENT ONLY directly from the winery cellar at this price - about the same tariff as in Europe:
2004 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco “Rabaja” 750ml - (SOLD OUT)
FIRST COME FIRST SERVED at this price up to 12/person until we run out
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
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