A fabulous birthday in Piemonte

Piedmont, Italy

Tasted November 8, 2014 by Eric with 839 views

Introduction

A few years ago, my wife promised me a birthday present of a truffle-season trip to Piemonte. While we were living in Seattle, we never did get around to this. However, now that we are in Switzerland, it was an easy drive down for an amazing weekend getaway. We were blessed with 2 perfectly sunny days, great wines, great truffles, and one of the most beautiful places in the world.

(As an aside, I hadn't actually read any of the critics reviews of the 2010 vintage, so I had no idea what I was walking into. Most of what I tasted from 2010 was shockingly approachable and amazingly deep as well. I am a relative Barolo newb, but these are gorgeous wines that seem to justify the hype that I was blissfully ignorant of.)

Flight 1 - BARTOLO MASCARELLO (6 notes)

Our magical day started with a visit to Bartolo Mascarello where we were generously hosted by Maria-Teresa Mascarello and Alan Manley. Alan started us off with a tour of the winemaking facility, followed by the cellars and finishing up in the office and tasting room. The wines were breathtaking, and no one should overlook the beautiful 2011 amid all of the hubbub over 2010.

Red
2013 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto d'Alba Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
Inky black. Leathery. Yum. I am not usually a big Dolcetto fan, but this was serious and pretty interesting.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d'Alba Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
High pitched nose that really sings at first, but with aeration some dusky notes start to come out. The palate is quite structured and somewhat unforgiving with a wild edge. This is pure and seems like it wants some time in the cellar.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Bartolo Mascarello Langhe Freisa Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
Cherry, licorice, bramble and berry. This particular bottle didn't have any spritz or funk. Crunchy but quite serious, grippy, yet also juicy. Sort of a "slap in the face" kind of wine that gets your attention but is still pretty fun.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Mmm, what a nose. Tobacco, tomato leaf. Beguiling with a spicy, green edge. Silky and gorgeous on the palate. Fine, long and quite approachable, wow. Lovely wine.
3 people found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2010 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
98 points
Dusky at first and then increasingly high-toned with aeration. Wow, deep and amazingly full wine with very sneaky structure. The palate is endless with an amazing core of fruit and incredibly silky tannins. This is a truly special wine. (The fun thing is that I hadn't read anything about the vintage from the critics until after I had my day in Barolo, and I can certainly understand why they are going gaga over the vintage.)
9 people found this helpful Comment
Red
1986 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
97 points
Tasted from magnum. Floral and smokey with perhaps a faint hint of oxidation. There was some debate about whether something was off with the wine, but it was pretty stunning as far as I was concerned. Leather and game, complex and utterly sublime. Silky and smokey. It is still not fully resolved but is so harmonious with such glorious spine and structure. What a special wine and a special privilege to be able to taste it.
3 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 2 - VIETTI (9 notes)

After a relaxed lunch (Bar La Terrazza "da Renza" in Castiglione Falletto) in the waning sunshine with a view over the rolling hills of Barolo, we arrived at Vietti to be greeted by Elena Penna Currado. We started with a tour of the truly labyrinthine cellars (complete with a dungeon tunnel) before returning to the tasting room to taste a slice of the very large lineup of Vietti wines. Their Roero and various Barbera are always a treat, but I was blown away by samples of the single vineyard 2010 Baroli. For me, the Lazzarito and Rocche di Castiglione were off the charts great.

White
2013 Vietti Roero Arneis Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero
Crisp, clean and mineral. I don't drink a lot of Arneis, but Vietti always stands out positively for me.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Vietti Barbera d'Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
Ridiculously tasty. This is surprisingly round but with smoky depth. Great red fruit on the approach with nice length. Mmm, there is really excellent concentration here without any loss of freshness.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza La Crena Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza
Leather and shoe polish. Red fruit. More traditional than the Vigna Vecchia Scarrone. Clean and powerful.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barbaresco Masseria Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Aromatics are a bit mute. Muscular, tannic and drying. With time there is a bit of nice perfume to this, but fundamentally it is pretty locked up.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2009 Vietti Barolo Castiglione Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Aromatically quite expressive. Powerful, dusty tannins but with excellent energy.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barolo Brunate Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Mmmm, such incredible perfume to this. Wow. Fine grained, elegant, a simply stunning wine.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
OMG. Deep, dusky, and ripe on the nose. Wow, wow, wow, juicy, fresh and amazingly energetic.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barolo Ravera Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Mmm, round, mouthfilling and quite complete. Compared to the Lazzarito and the Rocche, this seemed a step behind to me, but all of the single vineyard 2010's are pretty amazing here in 2010.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
A wild nose. OMFG, a special wine. Dynamic and seamless. This one took my breath away. Really something.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 - ELIO GRASSO (4 notes)

As the sun set, we headed to our final visit with Gianluca Grasso at Elio Grasso. I always considered myself to be among the more detail-oriented and perfectionist people on the planet, so I was surprised to meet someone who was about 10 times as meticulous as me. Every single aspect of the estate at Elio Grasso speaks of total devotion to perfection. From the insanely huge horseshoe shaped cave (where the barrel area is kept at 90% humidity and the bottle area is kept at 75%, both via underfloor running water) down to the amazing glassware in the tasting room (which a freshly primed glass used for each new taste of each wine).

White
2013 Elio Grasso Langhe Chardonnay Educato Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
Rather clean. Lemon curd. Mineral quite apparent. Really nice acidity. A bit of quince and pear. Stone and salt on the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2012 Elio Grasso Barbera d'Alba Vigna Martina Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
Clean, clean, clean. Balanced and polished. A hint of shoe polish. Textbook Barbera. Red fruit, spicy, crunchy, with sneaky/dusty tannins.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini Chiniera Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Tar. Newspaper (think ink more than paper). Dark berry. Serious. Brooding. Some violet popping up now along with pepper and smoke. Quite precise in the mouth. Mmm, opening up. Juicy, pure, firm and focused. Driven. This is not an "easy" wine, but it is impressive. Very masculine.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2008 Elio Grasso Barolo Riserva RĂ¼ncot Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
A lot of VA/oxidative elements on the approach. Mmm, there is some tar along with deep, dusky notes. A hint of raisin. Wow, the palate is great, really polished. A spicy, slightly dry aspect (oak I presume) but so much precision and focus. Excellent concentration and intensity.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Closing

All in all, that was one of the more incredible days of wine tasting I will likely ever enjoy. Three amazing producers, three very different wineries, a lots of beautiful wines in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Wow, what an amazing experience!

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