When I was on a trip to Italy in 1997 I was staying in Barolo and visited several producers.
One of them, the Marchesi di Barolo, was an old and familiar one, as I had enjoyed their 1982s and earlier vintages, although I felt that they had slipped a bit in recent years in the export market.
When I saw that they still had some single vineyard 1990s for sale, I grabbed three of them for a future tasting, as we never see anything except the regular and reserve bottlings.
Well, the future turned out to be this year and we opened all of the bottles among friends, other wines and good food.
With bruschetta with shrimp and olive:
2004 Nino Franco Rive di San Floriano Prosseco Brut – a single vineyard Prosecco that was clean and fresh and had just that extra degree of complexity over the regular bottlings. Pleasant way to start.
With risotto al funghi:
2000 Pio Cesare Piodilei Chardonnay del Langhe – I had never seen this one before. Mellow nose, soft in the mouth and enough flavour and acidity to play off the rich risotto (which had about 4 different mushrooms in it)
2002 Laboure Roi Pouilly Fuissé Vallon d’Or – OK, so now you know – I am not above snaffling some of the wine being used to make the risotto to taste. Pleasant but not great PF (which I suspect is why it found itself ending life in a pot of Arborio rice).
The next courses were quail stuffed with veal, rice, parsley and nutmeg and served with spinach, and a lovely saddle of rabbit (picture very small jockeys). We set up all the Barolos and people worked through them at their leisure.
1990 Reserva – good black cherry nose, still tight on palate but good length and as it opened, quite good concentration.
1997 Riserva – recently released, this wine is much more forward than the 1990. Good tar in the nose, medium bodied and pleasant now, with some tannin, but this will drink best much earlier than the 1990.
1990 Cannubi – immediately there is more depth to the nose compared with the 1990 Riserva. Cherries and a chalky feel on palate, bigger than the regular and a longer finish.
1990 Brunate – similar nose to the Cannubi, and perhaps not quite as big, but more elegant and it just kept opening up. Silky. My ultimate favourite.
1990 Sarmassa – smoke and tar in the nose, and harder than the other two with harder tannins. Some detected a slightly unclean element although the finish didn’t bother me, this was my second favourite.
They are all drinking well now and have years left.
1996 Prod. del Barbaresco Montestefano (magnum) – this was very good, the nose with asphalt and roses, and a juicy tasty sensation in the mouth. I like to drink these a bit older but this one was veeerrrry seductive right now.