First a disclaimer: Yes, I know you should not drink wines like these at a restaurant, as they have not been aired long enough, and yes, I also know that every time you drink a wine too young, fewer bottles are available to the world the day they are supposed to be drunk.
Anyways, at Babbo restaurant in New York City – still on of the best Italian restaurants around – accompanying their pasta tasting menu, these three wines were sniffed, tasted, and drunk:
95 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo: When sommelier first gave me the glass for a sniff, it was nothing there. But after a while in the glass, roses, wild strawberries, forest floor just after rainfall, and a hint of plum. Silky, elegant, and infinitely long.
98 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto: Warm sweet spices, tellicherry pepper, and flowerbed. Minerally, sweet fruit, and balanced. Improved in the glass (and decanter) as the evening went on.
98 Aldo Conterno Barolo: The night’s enigma… Deep red, almost black, tar and licorice, a hint of rose petals (or maybe this was wishful thinking on my part). Short, and one dimensional. Struggled to get this wine. Perhaps a faulty bottle, perhaps it needed much more air, or? In any case, a the disappointment of the night.
Bob Parker said about Bartolo Mascarellos Barolo from 1995 when he tasted it in 99: “Moderate tannin in the finish suggests this wine will have limited longevity of 7-10 years,” and gave it a whooping 86 points, the same points level he reserves for certified vinegar at 2 dollars a bottle from Napa Valley. We, on the other hand, had it is our clear wine of the evening – Bob must have had a bad bottle.