The much anticipated Barolo Battle did not disappoint. The wines exhibited classic varietal flavors, complexity, and uncommon power.
The top wine was a clear winner, and the third place bottle was a good value. The only wine that received no points was not a Barolo.
First Place: Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino Vigna Dei Dardi Barolo Vigne Vecchie 2001. Tasters noted bread dough, grass, candied citrus, dust, smoke, flowers, violets, toothpaste, and orchid on the nose. Andy found it "relaxing", Josephine noted "dry pebbles", Kristin sensed "orange starburst", and Andy found "grape hubba-bubba". Caramel, mint, mushroom, cola, sage, truffles, and scallion flavors. Well-balanced with a great texture. Everyone except David rated this #1. Received 34 points. Andy's bottle. About $66.
Second Place: Marcarini Brunate Barolo 2003. Unfiltered, with scents of eucalyptus, mint, tomato, sanded wood, plywood, dust, pine, catnip, charcoal, cherry coke, jasmine, and paint. Kristin found "york peppermint patty". Fleshy and velvety in the mouth. Green olives, chocolate, plastic, porcini mushrooms, pink grapefruit, and hints of cola. Hartwell really liked the changes on the finish, and Ali called it "sophisticated". Steady in taste. David's favorite of the night. Received 24 points. Kristin's bottle. About $60.
Third Place: Cabutto Tenuta La Volta Barolo 2003. Complex aromas of flowers, violets, fresh cut grass, plums, rubber, roses, tomato plant, bubble gum, and a touch of funk. Josephine noted "wet paper that's been on a sidewalk", while Ali found "autumn foot". Youthful in the mouth, with lemon peel, blueberry, orange pith, and boysenberry flavors. Dark, tarry, tannic finish. Unforgiving initially but really softened with air. Josephine felt that is was "charming" with time, and that it "learns its manners". Ali liked that "the finish has a front side and a back side". Most improved. Received 17 points. Ali's bottle $45
Bricco Rocche Bricco Rocche Barolo 1997. A little more orange in color, with a perfumed nose that shows a little sourness, with paste, a fecal quality, blood orange, grand mariner, dust, cranberry, thanksgiving spices, pepper and dough. Ali noted "cranberry orange muffin". Josephine felt that it "has a deep voice", showed intensity on the attack, with blackberries, plastic, rubber, licorice, and black tea flavors. Hartwell described it as "front loaded". Long finish. Received 15 points. David's bottle. About $200.
Boroli Barolo 2004. Shy, but hinting at cream soda, green apple, clove honey, narcissus, and bacon. Plenty of tannin and dark, with charcoal, graphite, fresh asphalt, lime, unripe cherry, and granny smith apple flavors. Very youthful. Received 2 points. Josephine's bottle. About $40.
Ferrando Carema 2001. Tasters noted very different aromatics compared to the others, with celery, "aunt Carmela's house in the 60's" (Josephine), plastic, shallots, mints, "dusty sunroom" (Andy), "damp, overturned earth" and "an aqueous quality" (Josephine), green tobacco, tomato, raw almonds, mushrooms, and "mildewy cellar" (Josephine). Flavors of black pepper, cranberry, black cherry, cooked fish, and ashtray. David noted "something mackerel like", and Hartwell felt that it was "sort of flat going down". A little more diluted in texture. Made from Nebbiolo, but not a Barolo. No points. Hartwell's bottle. About $60.
Chateau Partarrieu Sauternes 2001. Plastic and rubber glove aromatics, along with flavors of peaches grapefruit, honeysuckle, and flowers. Ali felt that it would be "great with pound cake". David felt that it was a little strange, while Hartwell enjoyed it. From David's cellar. About $20.
Berocca Performance. Tasted mixed in a pint of water, this was Tang colored, with a tangerine aroma. Pleasant, with subtle effervescence, and hinting of green apple. Subtle chalkiness. Made in Indonesia.