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Barolo 1997 Retrospective

On my recent trip to Piedmont, we lined up 14/15 Baroli from the much lauded (on release) and maligned (recently) 1997 vintage in Piedmont.  The vintage was the first hot vintage vintage since 1990 and winemakers seemed to struggle in keeping freshness and balance in their wines.  The 2003 vintage was much hotter and generally the wines especially from the traditionalists are better than the 1997s.

As feared the wines failed to live up to the initial hype and expectation.  Many of the wines showed a lot of stewed and sometimes burnt characteristics on the nose, hollow and lack of definition on the mid palates and alcoholic, dry finishes.  Having said that there were a couple of very good wines with Pie Rupestris Capellanno and Rocche del Falletto Giacosa leading the way followed by Rocche dei Manzoni and Cavallotto.

I struggle to see how any of the wines will improve although the better few will survive for a good 5-10 years and some are well passed it. Therefore, if you have any of these wines get drinking.

I realise that my notes are quite harsh but sadly fair in my opinion especially considering the number of excellent wines from the neighbouring 1996, 1998 and 1999 vintages.


1. Barbaresco Rabaja Giacosa

Murky oxidated. Minty stewed. Dry. Fading. bad bottle.



2. Barolo Brunate Marcarini

Fresh mint. Bitter chocolate leafy. Dryish tannins hollow mid palate bitter. Short bitter.



3. Barolo Cerequio R Voerzio

Truffle chocolate. Slightly burnt. Dried prunes. Decent sweetness and balance. Ok.



4. Barolo Rocche Brovia

Faint floral mint. Clumsy. Dry. Fading fruit.



5. Barolo G Mascarello

Sous bois, balsamic and Parmesan notes.  Slightly lean and hot on finish but not at all unpleasant.



6. Barolo Monprivato G Monprivato

Dried figs. Some dried fruit on mid palate. Slightly dry finish. Ok



7. Barolo Capella di Santo Stefano Rocche dei Manzoni

Ripe but clean nose of fresh figs. Floral perfume.  Big attack of sweet fruit and a warm finish.  Very good



8. Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra Clerico

Nose of tobacco and alcohol. Tar. Burnt. Very dry.  Mouth coating tannins. Horrible.



9. Barolo La Villa Seghesio

Rosemary. Eucalyptus mid weight fruit.  Shortish finish but not bad.



10. Barolo Piue Rupestris Cappellano

Fresh Provence herbs.  Lovely breadth of fruit, coffee. Nice freshness. Good length. Excellent and easily the best wine on show.



11. Barolo Vigna Rionda Luigi Pira

Chocolate and stewed cherries. Tar. Very dry tannins and high alcohol coming through.  Hot finish.



12. Barolo Vigna Rionda Massolino.

Matches(sulphur) Wet socks. Green vegetal character.  Hot and dry.  bad bottle?



13. Barolo Cascina Francia G Conterno

Big fruit. Ripe cherries in brandy.  Broad, clumsy but tasty and some balance. Not bad. Funky.



14. Barolo Rocche dl Falletto  Giacosa

Eucalyptus and roses on nose.  Fresh with a tangy sweetness.  Very elegant and charming.



In the evening with dinner we also had the Barolo Vigna San Giuseppe Ris 1997 Cavallotto which showed nicely, quite fresh, some rustic tannins.  I’d give it a 91.

I also has a couple of 1997s from Mauro Molino recently, the basic Barolo which was light and pleasant and needs drinking (87) and the Vigna Gancia, which had lovely, ripe, minty fruit and nice freshness (91).

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