1958, the year proving that barolos are "wines of kings"...

friday's tasting clearly showed that the adage "the wine of kings, the king of wines"" is well deserved for barolo.

in fact, it not only showed us what it is capable of but was also stunning display of why anyone would want to age red wines for so long.

hosted by the hong kong wine society and provided by nigel bruce, we tasted:

Cappellano, Barolo 1955
Cappellano, Barolo 1958
Giacomo Borgogno, Barolo Reserva 1958
Giuseppe Mascarello, Barolo 1958
Cappellano Barolo 1961
Giacomo Borgogno, Barolo Riserva 1964
Filippo Sobrero, Barolo 1971
Cavallotto, Barolo Vignolo Riserva 1989
Cavallotto, Barolo Vigna San Giuseppe Riserva 1989
Ceretto, Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate 1989
Clerico, Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 1989
Giuseppe Mascarello, Barolo Monprivato 1989

it was difficult to rank these wines in hong kong wine society style mainly because of the age of some of these wines and also because they were evolving so fast in the glass.

nevertheless, the cappellano 1958 was just fantastic, perfect in every way, orgasmic even… the color, although displaying a very large brick rim still showed consistency and youth in its shade of red at the core. it was bright although slightly hazy as one can imagine from such an aged wine… the aromas, diabolical, impossible to forget them as i am writing this: dried fruits & rose petals, tobacco and leather, game, savoury, with layers and layers of complexity as it was evolving forever in the glass… on the palate, it showed perfect balance of components with the tannins having reached exactly that perfect state when it is in perfect harmony with acidity and alcohol so that it was extremely soft & silky making the finish incredibly long and intense… i wrote it before, a vinous orgasm in every way….

to me, this was a representation of exactly why we age a red wine for so long. when there is enough concentration of flavors to begin with, a good dose of powerful tannins (as nebbiolo naturally has) and proper storage will render a wine extremely complex and fascinating to drink. the only problem though is that most people age their wines too long, drinking them when the tannins no longer support balance and unfortunately, with disappointing results as they will be thin, acidic and tasting of wet tea leaves....

this was not the case with the cappellano '58. it was perfect. nigel must have been in heaven that evening for it was his acquisitions and storage that gave so much pleasure to us all.

if this was the 1st reason we age a wine for so long, the guiseppe mascarello 1958 was the 2nd. on the first round, while i was going through all 12 wines, i did not score it very high. it is only later when i revisited it that it completely knocked me out. the wine was amazing, stunning… but for completely different reasons. it was orange and hazy showing almost complete disappearance of red color. the tannins themselves were reduced almost completely so that mouthfeel was slightly dominated by acidity and alcohol. so here, it might be argued that the wine was slightly out of balance, yet the aromatics were from another world altogether. savoury, succulent, musky, nutty, caramelized, reminding one of a dry madeira. yet all in intricate harmony, magically seductive, slowly revealing itself layers after layers in perfect integration. the palate still felt concentrated and was incredibly long and intense...

magical….a wine 10 years older than i am... i hope i get to be so interesting when i am 53...

the giuseppe mascarello monprivato 1989 was a surprise… then maybe not... tasted blind, i was proud to have picked it out of 4 others.... based on the amazing results of the '58, i was quite sure about the '89. the tint of red from the core extended almost to the rim, which displayed only a slight brick color. it was bright and it was clear, definitely a sign of good health, even as it was 22 years old! the nose still displayed notes of youth, with rose petals, stewed red fruits, violets, yet a definite aroma of tar & smoke…on the palate it was firm, fruity and definitely powerful (combative even?) showing clear indication that this is a wine that needed more time to soften up. a further proof that such wines have an incredible ability to age and i can only imagine the results 10-15 years from now...

what a voluptuous experience….