I don’t know about you, but I would never turn away an offer to try some Barolo wines, and that is what happened one day at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. Barolo is a traditional village in Piedmont. The hills of the region are famous for the fragrant, tannic deep red wines made entirely of the Nebbiolo grape. The Barolo DOCG rules require a minimum of thirty-eight months of aging, prior to release of which eighteen must be spent in barrel, the rest can be in bottle. Traditional Barolo wine making almost required that the wine be cellared for at least ten years to tame the tannins; which when they soften offer tones of earth, truffles and dark chocolate. There are some winemakers that are tweaking the procedure to make the wine more accessible at a younger age (more New World) and the difference in philosophies have been termed the Barolo Wars by some wags.
We started with Michele Chiarlo “Tortoniano” Barolo DOCG 2017. Michele Chiarlo is a producer in Piedmont and specializes in Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti and Gavi. The winery was established in 1956 with vintages of Barbera and Moscato from Asti, and the first Barolo in 1958. While the winery is young, his is of the fourth generation of Piedmontese winemakers. This wine is named after the calcareous marl clay of sedimentary marine origin from the Tortonian period (9 million years ago) with active limestone, magnesium and manganese. The fruit is manually harvested; maceration, Initial Fermentation and Malolactic Fermentation is done in Stainless Steel vats on the skins for about eighteen days. The wine is aged in oak casks for twenty-four months and then an additional twelve months in bottle before release. A very pretty garnet-colored wine with notes of dark fruit, rose petals, juniper berries, truffles and spices. On the palate black cherries, raspberries, silky tannins, well balanced and a very nice finish of spice and terroir. I think this wine will start to be enjoyed from now to the end of the decade for sure, with a big meal.
The second wine that followed was Paolo Scavino Barolo DOCG 2018. Paolo Scavino was founded in 1921 and they are into the fourth generation of winemakers. They estate is twenty-three hectares entirely within Barolo with nineteen different Cru vineyards. This particular wine has a special value and represent the history and tradition of blending different cru of Barolo. The fruit came from the best plots of seven cru vineyards. Separate vinification of each cru, including destemming and light crushing. The maceration and Initial Fermentation were done in Stainless Steel and indigenous yeasts. Malolactic Fermentation was done in oak barrels. Each of the crus were kept separate and aged in neutral French Oak for ten months and a further twelve months in large casks. Final blending of the cru wines for one year in Stainless Steel and then ten months of bottle aging before release. A soft garnet-red wine which offered notes of red fruit, floral, graphite and hint of menthol. On the palate notes of cherry, raspberry, pepper; totally balanced with smooth tannins with a salty mineral finish of terroir. Perfectly drinking now or for cellaring.