What has become an attraction for Barolo enthusiasts around the world, the third annual La Festa del Barolo, hosted by Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media, took place between February 6th and 7th at The Four Seasons Hotel in New York. Each participant attended with a bottle, or three, of the finest Barolo in hand to share with fellow collectors and winemakers from Piedmont.
The Gala dinner kicked off the event with Barolo dating back almost 90 years (such as the 1926 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino), all poured by the New York’s top sommeliers. The event also included a charity auction which raised $228,000 to be donated to The Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. It was an epic selection to sample and bid on from a region which is sure to become the next big craze in collectible wine.
What followed was a focused tasting of 15 iconic Barolo from the highly revered 2010 vintage, all while seated with the producers themselves providing commentary on their Barolo, as well as stories and precious details about their families and history. The buzz on the street from all involved is that 2010 Barolo is truly the epic vintage that Antonio Galloni has been telling us all about.
Our table was hosted by Valter Fissore of Elvio Cogno, who brought two of his own wines to be shared. From their high altitude vineyard Ravera, Elvio Cogno is producing some of the most exciting wines in Barolo today. Ravera, which is a vineyard in the municipality of Novello, has received a lot of attention lately, as it is the same sight which was sourced to produce the 100-point awarded 2010 Vietti Barolo Ravera. The Elvio Cogno winery is steeped in history and proud of the traditional winemaking styles of Barolo, which they still practice to this day. This is a producer to watch.
Below is a small sampling of some of the extraordinary wines which I was able to taste at the Gala Dinner.
1956 Cantina Mascarello Barolo Cannubi – This was a true pleasure to taste, finessed and vibrant for its age, almost like whisper, showing soil tones upfront, yet fleshing out in the glass with dry cherry, dried flowers and a hint of mineral. On the palate, notes of waxy red fruit, crushed fall leaves and inner floral tones were carried by near weightless textures with balance and poise. The lingering finish left impressions of dry cherry and undergrowth. It was truly a gorgeous, mature wine. (93 points)
1961 Giacomo Conterno Barolo – The nose was glorious in its evolution and truly showed the remarkable staying power of great Barolo. The nose was dark with rich, mature fruit, yet intense as dried berry gave way to crushed fall leaves, dark soil and mineral tones. On the palate, sweet dark berry tones were carried effortlessly by vibrant, acid-driven textures, yet what truly impressed me was the rich, meatiness to its dark fruit. The finish was remarkably fresh with lingering soil and mineral tones. (94 points)
1978 Aldo Conterno Barolo Romirasco – (very limited notes from memory, so there will be no score) This showed brilliantly and clean with a remarkably rich, dark fruited and woodland-styled nose. It flowed effortlessly focused across the palate with crystalline dried cherry fruit and dark soil tones. I only wish I had time to sit with this wine; it was glorious.
1982 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo – The nose showed rich tones of dried black cherry, soil, undergrowth and animal musk. It was fully resolved on the palate with rich dried cherry, mineral and soil tones, yet fresh and still juicy. The experience continued with persistence on the finish in its tart red fruit, undergrowth and inner floral tones. (93 points)
1982 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino – The nose continued to open in the glass and would have improved for hours if given the chance. It showed a dark persona yet somehow reached from the glass with notes of eucalyptus and herbal mint. Dried cherry with an animal, feral musk, minerals and dark soil tones rounded out the bouquet. On the palate, it was remarkably youthful and powerful with generous weight contrasted by lingering structural components, as notes of dried berry, plum, leather, earth and savory herbs flowed across the senses. It finished softer than expected with a steady fade of dried berry and leather from the palate. (95 points)
1990 Gaja Sperss Barolo – This came to life in the glass with dark fruits, soil and undergrowth, yet stayed fresh and vibrant throughout with a hint of lifting menthol. On the palate, this showed silky, resolved textures with racy dark fruit, hints of tobacco and herbs. Yet, it was the finish that truly impressed with its multiple layers of fruit, herbs, floral and balsamic notes. (94 points)
2004 Elvio Cogno Barolo Vigna Elena – The nose showed round berry tones with dusty soil, minerals and herbs. On the palate, it showed tart red fruit, which seemed to saturate the senses while remaining vibrant and balanced throughout. This is a youthful and structured ’04 which should develop beautifully in the cellar. (93 points)
2000 Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera – The nose was dark yet highly expressive, showing dark-red berry, spice, crushed leaves, soil and animal musk. On the palate, I found driven intensity without the ripeness typically associated with the 2000 vintage. Notes of tart red fruits, minerals and herbs mounted on the senses, all the while remaining fresh through its balanced acidity and closing with refined tannin. (92 points)
Article and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido