Barbaresco and Barolo communes are situated in the Piedmont area of Italy about 10 miles apart and both produce wine from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. Yet, despite the proximity of these two wine producing zones that use the same grape, they produce two distinct styles. Many refer to Barolo as ‘masculine’ and the Wine of the King and Barbesco as “feminine” and wine of the Queen. Or to draw from the title of a popular book, “Barbaresco is from Mars, Barolo is from Venus”.
On May 12, 2015, Toronto Vintners sampled 5 Barolos and 3 Barbaresco wines to sample and compare. All are from the 2004 vintage which is rated as “excellent” and “classic” scoring 96/100. Berry Bros. & Rudd (England) wrote, “Arguably the most eagerly awaited Barolo and Barbaresco vintage since the statuesque 1996, the fine-boned, nuanced 2004s possess both power as well as poise; the finest examples show pinpoint aromas of raspberry, sage and licorice, with a compact, finely-structured, suave, savoury and rose scented flavours delighting the palate.” The best Barbarescos from 2004 should cellar for 20-25 years and the top Barolos for as long as 35-40 years. Michael Matthews, one of Toronto Vintners' wine buyers, was our guest speaker for the evening.
HOW THE WINES WERE RANKED
2004 Moccagatta Barbaresco Bric Balin (Barbaresco) $75
The 2004 Barbaresco Bric Balin reveals greater depth than the Basarin. Ripe dark fruit, scorched earth, toasted oak, grilled herbs and spices are all woven into the fabric of this full-bodied, elegant wine which reveals outstanding length and exquisite balance. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2024. 92 pts. Wine Advocate, October 2007
2004 Cavallotto Fratelli Barolo Bricco Boschis (Barolo) $59
The 2004 Barolo Bricco Boschis tastes just like it did from barrel, which is to say sweet, layered and totally irresistible. The ripe red fruit is incredibly primary, and this wine is years away from offering its finest drinking, but it is already very impressive at this stage. This is an especially refined, elegant vintage for this wine, and I can only say that I await the Riservas with eager anticipation. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. 93 pts. Wine Advocate, October 2008
2004 Vietti Barolo Castiglione (Barolo) $80
Vietti’s 2004 Barolo Castiglione is superb. This impressively rich, concentrated Barolo is fresh and perfumed, with plenty of sweet fruit supported by awesome structure and power. With air delicate notes of herbs and tobacco emerge, adding further complexity. With this effort, the Castiglione bottling takes an important step in Currado’s plan to make this wine much closer in quality to his single-vineyard offerings. No longer the accessible easy going wine it once was, the 2004 is a big, big wine. The Castiglione is made from a variety of plots, many of which are too small to vinify separately for purely practical reasons. These include Bricco Fiasco, Ravera, Fossati, Bussia and Le Coste (Monforte). Anticipated maturity: 2010-2022. 92 pts. Wine Advocate, December 2007
2004 Negretti Bricco Ambrogio Barolo DOCG $75"
This exhibits fresh cherry and black currant flavors, and there's a meatiness to its texture. The firm grip of tannins sweeps in on the finish, which echoes fruit, along with eucalyptus and spice notes. Best from 2014 through 2032. Score: 93. Bruce Sanderson, www.winespectator.com Nov. 30, 2011."
2004 Sottimano Barbaresco Cotta (Barbaresco) $83
Sottimano’s 2004 Barbaresco Cotta is perhaps slightly less elegant than the Curra, but it reveals a more immediate personality in its powerful, fruit-driven style, with sweet dark fruit, toasted oak and mentholated, balsamic notes. Despite its generous ripe fruit this wine has plenty of length and supporting structure underneath. It is fairly approachable today, but should also age gracefully. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2022. 92 pts. Wine Advocate, October 2007
2004 Aldo Richardo Seghesio Vigneto la Villa (Barolo) $65
Seghesio is yet another producer who seems to have arrived at a newfound level of elegance. Fermentations have gradually been lengthened and the use of French oak is down from previous vintages. The 2004 Barolo La Villa is notably elegant and restrained for this bottling. It opens with perfumed aromatics that meld into layers of ripe dark fruit intermingled with sweet notes from the French oak. This superbly well-balanced, poised Barolo should be even better with another few years of bottle age. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2022. 92 pts. Wine Advocate, December 2007
2004 Giovanni Manzone Barolo le Gramolere (Barolo) $69
Manzone’s 2004 Barolo Le Gramolere reveals gorgeous notes of candied cherries, spices and menthol in an elegant, sweet expression of this vineyard. It offers greater freshness than the Castelletto, with notable vibrancy to its generous fruit. The finish is delicate and long, as ethereal aromas linger in the empty glass. The Gramolere was aged predominantly in 500 liter barrels with 15-20% of the juice seeing larger 20-hectoliter barrels. It is one of the finest wines I have tasted from this small, artisanal producer. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. 94 pts, Wine Advocate, December 2007
2004 Piero Busso Barbaresco Santo Stefanetto (Barbaresco) $85
The 2004 Barbaresco S. Stefanetto (from vines in Treiso) is a firm, yet generous wine endowed with notable purity and depth in its dark, sensual fruit. Truffles, worn-in leather, spices and menthol round out this harmonious, beautifully balanced Barbaresco. Though undeniably attractive today, the wine will benefit from another year or two in bottle to help soften the tannins, but it is already delicious. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2022. 92 pts. Wine Advocate, October 2009