We set “sail” on June 24, and thus we needed a final tasting to prepare for the trip. We decided to deviate from plan to include Freisa, Arneis, and Chardonnay in the “preparation” tasting, given the profile of the lineup in Piemonte (Vietto, Brovia, Cavallotto, Conterno-Fantino, Altare, Oberto, Cordero di Montezemolo, La Spinetta, and Rocche dei Manzoni), and opted for Barbera and Nebbiolo instead.
First off, Vietti’s 05 Barolo Castiglione. Vietti’s “base” Barolo never cease to amaze me, and the 05 is no exception. As we did not decant it, it was very tight on the nose. But you can easily get the red fruit, plums, and floral notes. Balanced effort, fruity, but still astringent at this stage. Buy, but drink (much) later.
Yes, I know I’ve been told multiple times by the Altare family to stay away from anything 99, 01, 04 till now, we needed to have it (as Altare is on the list of winery visits, and I do not have anything but the years to cellar…). Like the Castiglione, tons of dark fruit and flowers. A hint of wet ground, licorice, and spices. Sweet(ish), tannins to spare, fruity, long finish, with some traces of mint at the end. I read that Antonio Galloni is a big fan of the 2007 “base” Barolo from Altare, but I will also highly recommend the 04 if you can still get your hands on it.
The 03 Larigi is a totally different beast. Of course, it should illegal to drink it now, but to me it’s also a crime sometimes not to. Yes, I know it’s normal to taste the Barbera before the nebbiolos, but the sheer intensity of the Larigi made me serve it last. It represented a change of pace. Ripe fruit on the nose, spicy and minerals. Just traces of oak, tells you that the oak is just about to give. Elegant, velvety, and very long. If you like Barbera, this should be in your bag.
A quick round around the table gave the Castiglione the win (I have no vote, as I am the host and “tour guide”, but I can blog about the 03 Larigi being my favorite, and that all three wines come highly recommended.) It should be duly noted though, that one of our tasters had the “remains” of Altare’s 04 Barolo two days later, and reverted back with a definite tie between them…! That said, that could be said for all the 3 wines….