Late last year, during one of our semi-annual cellar clean outs, we came across at least six bottles of 20 year old Barolo, some even older. Deciding that 20 years is the magic age for some of these wines we’ve been slowly working our way through them. We’ve also since learned that they benefit from several hours of decanting, seven is the magic number for that for us too, and in this post I want to share the latest as it is so far my favorite:
A 2001 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo (Nebbiolo for wine 101ers) Cannubi S. Lorenzo/Ravera. We decanted at 11 am, tasted every hour or so, at 4 pm it smelled like a rich tawny port but the taste was all dark fruit, balsamic and tannins.
We had a homemade spaghetti sauce and pasta for dinner, and it opened up well in time for that by about 6 pm. With a color of dark black cherry and a brown edge, the bouquet highlighted sweet stewed plums, dried figs, chocolate covered Graham crackers, dark caramel candy, blackberry and forest floor. I was ready to taste.
Flavors included multi-layers of dried red to black fruit, cocoa powder, walnut, more of that Port-like quality, very balanced, the tannins had significantly softened, and a lively palate that translated to an extra-long finish.
This was the best-tasting Barolo for me so far.
From an internet search I learned: Selling in the U.S. for between $399 and $550 a bottle now, the Wine House in WLA has it for $414.99, we paid about $61 in 2006 for it. The Wine Advocate gave it 91 points, Stephen Tanzer gave it 91-93 and Robert Parker gave it 94. These scores are pretty much agreeable to me.
These are Antonio Galloni’s tasting notes from when he tasted the same wine in April 2012: The 2001 Barolo Cannubi/S.Lorenzo-Ravera is striking. Sweet red cherries, flowers, mint and spices are some of the many nuances that emerge from this fresh, vibrant Barolo. The Cannubi/S.Lorenzo-Ravera is often overlooked, but that would be a mistake here. The 2001 has put on serious weight over the last few years. It is a sensual, powerful Barolo that can be enjoyed now or cellared for another decade-plus. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2021. It has been a few years since I tasted Beppe Rinaldi’s 2001s. Both wines confirmed their place among the most successful wines of the vintage. As I have written many times, Rinaldi is the producer who adheres most closely to all of the tenets of the traditional school in Barolo.
From the Barolo di Barolo website
In this attractive and distinctive house, located just outside the Barolo town limits, on the road to Monforte, both the traditions and the modern developments of Barolo merge. One part of this partnership is represented by the winery’s current owner, Giuseppe Rinaldi, or, more simply, “Citrico,” as he is known to everyone, a veterinarian “lent” to viticulture and winemaking, a compelling raconteur and, according to all, one of the most original and clearest thinkers, not to mention liberal, in all of the Barolo Langa, and the other partner, even more compellingly, the one who preceded Giuseppe in the management of the cellar, his father, Battista Rinaldi.
It was in fact this singular person, whose moral uprightness and austerity became legendary, who turned this winery into one of the great labels of classic Barolo, moving to Barolo from Diano D’Alba at the age of 29, and taking over the winery in 1947 upon the death of his father, and acquiring, together with the Barale family, the ‘l Palas farmhouse from an overseer of the Falletti family.
Graduating with honours from the Scuola Enologica di Alba, Battista Rinaldi was the highly-regarded mayor of Barolo from 1970-1975, succeeding during his term of office in acquiring the Castello di Barolo as communal property, seat first of the town Enoteca, and later of the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo, of which he served as its first president, but he also had the good fortune, or the responsibility, since managing great vineyards is never easy and always requires a true sense of stewardship of the land, to inherit some hectares in particularly valuable terroirs such as Brunate, Le Coste, Ravera, and Cannubi San Lorenzo. The grapes were vinified in different ways: the Brunate fruit was kept apart, and went into a special riserva that rested in the cellar in large bottles for ten years and was then put in standard bottles, while the other three lots, following one of the most hallowed Barolo traditions, were meticulously blended together.
Beppe Rinaldi joined his father in the winery, with notoriously different opinions than his father, as someday his eldest daughter Marta, after her oenology studies in Alba, will join him and make her opinions known, and Beppe continues to direct it today with the same traditional and classic outlook, free from any modernist taint, having changed nothing he inherited except the makeup of the two Barolos…Read more here — > https://www.barolodibarolo.com/en/wineries/81-rinaldi-giuseppe-az-agr.html
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.