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1997 BARBARESCO TASTING
April 25, 2001



The growing season in 1997 got off to an early start and warm temperatures throughout the summer allowed growers to begin the harvest far earlier than normal: around the second to third week of September, finishing picking before mid-October.
Winemakers had ripe, healthy fruit to work with, so those not making good wine should be looking for other lines of employment.

Here's what we found:

The Wines Gerald's Rank Ellen's Rank Bob's Rank GROUP RANK Total Points 1sts/2nds/
Lasts
CERETTO
1997 Barbaresco
Asij or As
  $42
8 7 5 8 113 0/0/8
MICHELE CHIARLO
1997 Barbaresco
Asili   $59.99
5 3 6 6 89 0/1/2
MICHELE CHIARLO
1997 Barbaresco
Rabaj
  $59.99
6 5 3 4 72 1/2/0
PODERI COLLA
1997 Barbaresco
Tenuta Roncaglia  $49.99
7 8 2 7 101 0/2/5
GAJA
1997 Barbaresco
$155
3 2 4 3 54 3/3/1
MONTARIBALDI
1997 Barbaresco
Sor
Montaribaldi  $35.99
1 4 1 2 47 5/4/0
LA SPINETTA (Rivetti)
1997 Barbaresco
Vigneto Gallina  $79.99
2 1 8 ! 1 47 7/5/1

VIETTI
1997 Barbaresco
Masseria  $59.99

4

6 7 5 89 1/0/0


The Tally Sheet...All Precincts Reporting.  No Hanging Chads.

Notes by Gerald Weisl

8th Place:  CERETTO "Asij" or "As"
Not many positives for this famous winery's Barbaresco, as the first critic felt "it's starting to turn."  Another echoed this sentiment, noting this is "past its prime and somewhat medicinal in character."  Someone else described it as "candyish, sweet orange, low in acidity, yet high in tannin...bitter, with a soapy finish."  Another individual pegged it as "waxy, with stewed prunes, tobacco, high in acidity, pleasant but hollow and the tannins shorten the finish."  
I found this older, traditionally-styled Barbaresco to have some sweet notes with a touch of jammy fruit and a hint of anise.  It's shallow and astringent, with bitter tea flavors.  Thoroughly disappointing and not very charming.  If you'd like to taste a relatively dead, old wine and can forgive that it's not 30 years old, it only tastes like it's decrepit, then here's a bottle for you.

7th Place:  PODERI COLLA "Tenuta Roncaglia"
"Dull cherry fruit with a light and sharp finish." were the words of one taster.  Another found it even less appealing, characterizing this as being "skunky, moldy, dirty, earthy and redolent of well-used gym shoes."  Someone else of a more positive viewpoint described this as "boring."  One taster, a farm boy (apparently) found "silage and black cherry with some funky notes though I'm not as offended as others."  You won't see a description on a back label telling you a wine smells like "bug spray," (making it a multi-purpose liquid), but one taster found it to have a fragrance reminiscent of insect repellent. 
I found a mildly earthy fragrance with lightly leathery notes and some weedy, gamey elements.  It's typically astringent and aggressive, being a decent example of a traditional, old style of Nebbiolo-based Piemontese wine.   I'd give it single star on a three star scale.  Eight to 12 years of aging potential, too, if you like this sort of wine.

6th Place:  MICHELE CHIARLO "Asili"
"Old school, rustic Barbaresco with baked cherry notes.  It should be more fleshy and rich." said a critic.  Another taster agreed, adding this has some leafy, moldy notes with hints of mushrooms and perhaps the leathery notes of Brettanomyces (a wild yeast which gives a wine a suggestion of 'saddle' or 'leather' notes).  Another taster found this to be somewhat reminiscent of Pinot Noir and characterized it as "delicate."  Someone else found "vegetal and spice notes." 
My notes indicate a mild eucalyptus fragrance with a touch of wood...definitely an herbal quality.  It's a shade lighter than most of the others, but a well-done, traditionally-styled wine with tobacco, resin, herbs and some aggressive tannins.  One-and-a-half stars.

5th Place:  VIETTI "Masseria"
The first taster offering an opinion felt this wine "improved in the glass, getting better with the second pass through the line-up."  Another criticized it as being "over-pressed, over extracted tannins."  One person found it to be "all structure and no stuffing."  Someone else found the Vietti wine to have a tobacco-like character.  Another said this was "more ripe than the others and the tannins cut short the finish."  One defender felt this was "fruity and had the best taste of this set."  Another offered it's "fruitier and riper than most."
I found a lovely, root-like, berryish character, not unlike some French Burgundy wines (and one or two Central Coast Pinots, especially those of Talley Vineyards).  There's a hint of pencil shavings here, too.  The flavors show very nice fruit, big, rich and well-stuffed with root notes, black fruits and the hint of oak.  Very fine.  Two stars.

4th Place:  MICHELE CHIARLO "Rabaj"
"Good color, well-balanced and medium-bodied." said one of the participants.  Another felt this was "more tannic than the rest, but it was still okay."  Another person who liked this because it's "distinctively different."  Someone felt it had "light wood and a vanilla-like note."  One taster, less enchanted, said it's a "Ghost of Barbaresco, mild, simple and light."  
I found Chiarlo's Rabaj to be similar to their Asili bottling, with a resin-like note and some woodsy tones to the nose.  Ripe fruit.  It's tannic, young and powerful, with black fruit flavors and a bitter, cocoa finish.  Eight to 12 years of aging.  One-and-a-half stars.

3rd Place:  GAJA
"The aromas got me very excited with anticipation of something great, but it didn't fare as well on the palate." said one critic.  Another had a similar take, saying "It had a great fragrance but it fell apart and then came back."  One taster was offended by the astringency, saying "If you can get by the tannins, this is great!"  Another fellow pegged this as "A very nice California Cabernet Sauvignon."  Someone else described it as having "lots of blackberries, smoked meat fragrances and a hint of nutmeg."  Another nailed it as being "viciously tannic," while someone else said it's "clumsy, big and rich." (I think they were describing the wine, not Angelo Gaja.)
I liked the cedary, woodsy notes of the fragrance and found this to be quite complex.  The wood notes are not as "sweet" as the two wines which tied for first place.  Still, it's close to perfection in my book.  Going back after the tasting, I found those Cabernet notes one taster mentioned during the critique.  It's full, rich, complex on the palate, with a refined elegance uncommon in wines made of Nebbiolo.  Two stars, plus.  Five to twelve years of aging potential.  Maybe more.

2nd Place: (Tied for 1st)  MONTARIBALDI "Sor Montaribaldi"
"More spicy notes on the nose and palate which cover the fruit." said the first critic.  Another marked this down, feeling the "fruit was muted and this is nothing special."  Others disagreed, one taster finding "terrific wood, dried orange peel, fresh tobacco cedar and the silkiest texture with fine, grainy tannins and a hint of licorice on the finish."  Another approving taster felt this had "good intensity, good structure, good stuffing...very good!"
Sweet cream and vanillin notes are very seductive and my score sheet also notes a toasty element, dark fruits and a hint of sweet spices.  The sweet oak sits atop the fruit, with some aggressive tannins.  Youthful.  Wonderful wine.  Two-and-a-half stars.  Five to ten years aging potential.

1st Place (Tied for 1st) LA SPINETTA "Gallina"
"Lots of toasty oak, intriguing leafy notes with a chocolatey fruit quality." said the first person vocalizing their opinion.  Another felt this is "More like Barolo than Barbaresco, being stiffer than the rest."  Another person thought this wine rivaled the Gaja for the "best aromas and it had nice tannins and a spicy finish."  Another said "I just like smelling this!"  Another praised it for its "oak...lots of oak.  Sweet oak."  Curiously Bob ranked this 8th, as sort of a protest vote.  He was offended by the level of wood in this wine, feeling it is so "internationally-styled" that it's lost its identity as a Barbaresco.
There is plenty of vanillin in this sweetly-wooded wine, to be sure.  I also found some berry-like fruit and a cedar note.  Very showy on the nose.  There are some cherry-like flavors along with the wood on the palate.  The tannins are mildly aggressive, but very fine and it has a lengthy finish.  Two-and-a-half stars.  Eight to 12 years of aging potential.  


WEIMAX TASTING ARCHIVE

1999 FRENCH BURGUNDY July 24, 2002

1999 GRAVES BLANC July 10, 2002

2000 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY  July 3, 2002

1999/2000 CONDRIEU TASTING  June 26, 2002

1999 PAUILLAC & SAINT JULIEN TASTING  June 12, 2002

1999 MARGAUX TASTING  June 5, 2002

1985 CABERNETS & MEDOC TASTING May 29, 2002

1998 California CABERNETS   May 22, 2002

South American MALBEC May 8, 2002

1999 West Coast MERLOTS  May 1, 2002

Central Coast (California) PINOT NOIRS  April 24, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS  April 10, 2002

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS  April 3, 2002

1999 FRENCH RHÔNE SYRAHS February 13, 2002

(Mostly) 1999 CALIFORNIA SYRAHS January 30, 2002

MORE 1997 BAROLO  January 23, 2002

1997 Late-Released CABERNETS  January 9, 2002

1997 BAROLO  October 24, 2001

1985-1990 RED BURGUNDIES  October 10, 2001

1998 Grand Crus of Gevrey Chambertin  October 3, 2001

PRIORAT WINES  September 26, 2001

1998 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE September 12, 2001

1999 "High Roller" CHARDONNAYS  September 5, 2001

1998 BORDEAUX  August 22, 2001

1999 WEST COAST PINOT NOIRS August 8, 2001

1997 VOSNE-ROMANÉE Tasting  August 1, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINS  July 25, 2001

1998 CABERNET SAUVIGNONS  July 11,  2001

OLD CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS June 6, 2001

1997 ECHEZEAUX May 30, 2001

1999 NORTH COAST ZINFANDELS May 23, 2001

1999 West Coast Merlots May 9, 2001

1999 WEST COAST PINOT NOIRS May 2, 2001

1997 BARBARESCO  April 25, 2001

Mostly RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS  April 11, 2001

1997 NAPA CABERNETS April 4, 2001

1995 BRUNELLO di MONTALCINO March 28, 2001

1997 CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY & MOREY SAINT DENIS
with one 1996...March 14, 2001

1997 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN  March 7, 2001

1996 BAROLO  February 28, 2001

1978-1979 California Cabernets January 10, 2001

1997 California Cabernets November 8, 2000

1997 TUSCAN SANGIOVESES  November 1, 2000

1997-1998 Châteauneuf-du-Papes & CALIFORNIA WANNABEEs  October 25, 2000

Mostly 1998 PINOT NOIRS  October 11, 2000

1996 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  October 4, 2000

MATURE CLARETS  September 27, 2000

1997 RED BORDEAUX  September 13, 2000

1997 NAPA CABERNETS   September 6, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 30, 2000

1997 CLOS DE VOUGEOTS August 23, 2000

PETITE SIRAH & SYRAH (West Coast)  August 9, 2000

FANCY CALIFORNIA MERLOTS   August 2, 2000

1996 FAMOUS CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  June 14, 2000

WEST COAST SYRAHS  June 7, 2000

1997 CABERNETS  May 31, 2000

VIOGNIERS of RECENT VINTAGE May 24, 2000

1997-1998 ZINFANDELS  May 10, 2000

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE CLARETS May 3, 2000

1996 California CABERNETS  April 12, 2000

1996 FRENCH RED BURGUNDIES   March 29, 2000

CALIFORNIA vs ITALIAN (Tuscan) SANGIOVESE  March 22, 2000

WEST COAST PINOT NOIRS  March 8, 2000

AUSSIE SHIRAZ TASTING  March 1, 2000

FRENCH CHAMPAGNES (NV BRUTS)  January 5, 2000

1996 BORDEAUX (MEDOC) TASTING  November 10, 1999

CABERNET-INFLUENCED VINI FROM ITALY November 3, 1999

CABERNETS OF THE WORLD TASTING October 27, 1999

 

THE VINO-FINO TASTERS (A private tasting group)

CHAMPAGNES & SPARKLERS July 17, 2002

Interesting Paired CHARDONNAYS
May 15, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS   Feb. 20, 2002

1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002

HOLIDAY SEASON BACCHANALIA
December 5, 2001

1999-2000 New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001

1998 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001

1999 LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001

1997 SAUTERNES July 18, 2001

Mostly 1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001

1999 PINOT NOIRS May 16, 2001

1996 SAINT-ÉMILION Tasting April 18, 2001

CARNEROS CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001

1984-1985 NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting  October 20, 2000

1997 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS   September 20, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 16, 2000

WINES FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS  June 21, 2000

WINES FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN   Aprile 19, 2000

1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17, 2000


 

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