Monday, March 26, 2012

1979: Barolo Retrospective

Drink ‘em if you got ‘em

Sometimes you just have to let go of the ghost. For years I’ve read about the ’79 Barolo vintage being the underdog that was foreshadowed by the towering ’78s. Many merchants have used this angle when offering this vintage to me. However, from my most recent tasting of ’79 Barolo, I think it’s time that we stop buying these and start drinking them.

The Roagna Barbaresco
Crichet Pajé. One of the strangest
performances of the night.
It’s unfortunate, but the majority of the bottles tasted have come as far as they can and are simply tired and dried out. The hallmark acidity of this vintage now rears its ugly head as the fruit fades, turns lean and penetrating flavors of citrus rind and pith coat the palate. Some of these were highly enjoyable, but I won’t be adding them to my cellar.

My favorites on this night were the Breze and Vietti Briacca. Both were formidable wines that have seen better days yet are fading with grace. In the end, if you own ’79 Barolo, you don’t need to run to the cellar right this minute, but it’s certainly time to consider drinking these wines.

On to the wines:

1979 Francesco Pittatore Barolo Ponte Rocca Brunate – The nose showed wet tobacco, sweet woodland notes with vibrant red berry and a hint of mint. On the palate, it was broad yet vibrant and light on its feet, showing soil covered red fruits and inner aromas of mushroom. The finish was long and feminine with staying red berry fruit and a hint of remaining structure. (90 points)

1979 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Brunate – The nose showed animal musk, dark fruits, crushed leaves, and intense floral notes. On the palate, it was rustic with lean dried fruits that turned juicy and were joined by notes of savory broth. This was still highly enjoyable, but with no upside potential, it should be drunk now. (87 points)

1979 Marcarini La Serra – On the nose, I found sweet beefy notes, spice, saline minerals and a mixture of floral, soil and undergrowth. On the palate, it was mouth-filling, showing citrus rinds and herbal tea leaf. The finish showed lots of acidity and citrus notes. (89 points)

1979 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Monfalletto – On the nose, I found a whiff of old library book, crushed cherry, tamarind and potpourri. On the palate, it was lean with vibrant acidity and rustic dried cherry fruits. The finish was long with mouth-coating fruit and inner aromas of medicinal herbs. (87 points)

1979 Vietti Barolo Briacca – The nose was intense with dark ripe strawberry, dried flowers, and medicinal herbs. On the palate, it was feminine and balanced with finessed, lean red fruit and citrus rinds. The finish was long and fresh showing sour berries. (91 points)

1979 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Rocche dei Brovia – The nose showed sweet, ripe red fruits, undergrowth and mushroom. On the palate, inner floral and undergrowth notes dominated, as this wines broad yet elegant texture opened up to reveal dark red fruits, both sweet and sour with vibrant acidity. (89 points)

1979 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Prapò – The nose was dark with rich red fruit, buttery tartlet crust, and herbs. On the palate, it was light on its feet and finessed, showing juicy red berries but turning chunky toward the finish and fading quickly. (85 points)

1979 Roagna Barbaresco Crichet Pajé – The nose showed horseradish, soil, and herbs. On the palate, it was vegetal, with pepper, herbs, citrus rinds and lots of acidity. The vegetal notes continued on the finish. It was certainly an interesting wine but honestly not enjoyable to drink. (80 points)

1979 Giacomo Brezza Figli Barolo Sarmassa e Castellero – The classically-styled nose showed tar, rose water, a slight spice, lots of floral notes and red berries. On the palate, it was rich and full with soft dried cherry fruit that turned juicy toward the close. This wine was easygoing on the palate and gorgeous on the nose. (91 points)

1979 Cantina Mascarello Barolo – On the nose, I found tangy, spicy floral notes, old library book and lean red berries. On the palate, intense but overripe fruit flooded the senses but dropped off quickly to reveal drying and mouth-puckering tannin. (84 points)

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