2004 Barolo Dinner – Zucca – Tuesday 7th July 2015

This was an invite I was more than a little delighted to accept. Get to Zucca for several dishes and with them review a load of Barolo 2004’s. Just my sort of thing. 2004 is a great vintage for Piedmont and most specifically for Barolo. It is the first of the run of exciting “even numbered” vintages. For me a small summary would be:

2004: Superb overall balance and grace, top wines certainly need time but the balance is such that enjoyment earlier is not hard. Long lived with a wide drinking window.

2006: Uber-classical, structured and masculine vintage that is brilliantly uncompromising at times, wines of quality here are worth waiting 15 years plus for and many wines will be 30-40 year wines.

2008: A little like the younger talented sister of 2006, a big mistake to overlook this vintage, still classical but with a wider drinking window and a lovely sweetness.

2010: Potentially a little like 2004 with 25% of 2006 added, so very exciting. It has been the most hyped of all the vintages and that can of course lead to disappointments.

I still firmly believe that in Piedmont, as in Burgundy, you find the producers you like and buy the wines every year. Anyway enough waffle…

This was dinner of wine merchants and brokers full of much loud comment and no lack of opinion, topics in and well outside of wine all got a good airing. This all cumulated in a game of “Cards against humanity” – a great laugh but possibly a game to play with those you know, or that know you rather than any strangers…

We kicked off with a rather splendid looking magnum of Soave Classico La Rocca 2011 from Pieropan that our organiser kindly brought along. I like these wines a lot, unpretentious, balanced and just so good. This was waxy, oily with some lovely lemon fruit and what feels like just a little sweetness, delicious. I never new the mags came in totally different bottles.

We were off an running on the food as well. One of the very few downsides of this dinner was that Sam (ZuccaSam) couldn’t make it…his team though did us well as ever. The menu was as below, I’ve put a pic or two at the bottom of the blog.

Baccala, Tomato and Olive

Pork ribs with Porcini and Cauliflower
Agnolotti in Brodo

Maltagliati, Pork and Radicchio
Grilled Veal Chop, Summer Griolles and Spinach
Formaggio – Toma, Gorgonzola Dolce, Hazelnuts and Honey
Chocolate Semifredddo, Pecan ice cream and a Caramel

The format for the Barolos was to serve them in flights with the more traditional wines first (1 & 2) and the more modern to follow. Refreshingly there were no modern monsters on display, 2004 is probably in the phase when many of the more modern producers were starting to moderate the use of barriques etc…anyhow…

Flight 1
2004 Barolo Rocche, Brovia
2004 Barolo Villero, Brovia
2004 Barolo Bussia, G. Fenocchio
The Rocche was lovely – clean and bright but still with good intensity. Very much on the red fruit end of the spectrum, some saline but essentially just pure and fresh. The Villero immediately had a darker fruit type, much more salinity and was a little more masculine, my notes rather unhelpfully just say “I like this…propper!”. Then the change from Brovia to Fenocchio who one hears has been on great form of late, especially in 2010 and 2011. This had a slightly odd nose of Islay whisky, peatiness, then a heady cherry fruit before lacking stuffing. The nose and initial palate I can see as just a phase but the lack of a middle is a little more of a concern, it was perfectly good but just a little incomplete.    

Flight 2
2004 Barolo Brunate (mag), Marcarini

2004 Barolo Monprivato, G. Mascarello
The Marcarini Brunate, which I always buy, showed well. Good clarity, roses, some cherry fruit and then a good saline edge, slightly drier in a nice grippy way, this is focussed rather than fleshy, should age nicely but good from now. The Monprivato was a wine I was really looking forward to trying. A couple of people had had this recently and seemed a little disappointed with this particular bottle. It has a slightly caramel-like nose which I thought was odd. The palate was strange but not unpleasant – judgement deferred.

Flight 3
2004 Barolo Bricco Fiasco, Azelia
2004 Barolo Big ’d Big (mag), Rocche dei Manzoni
Bricco Fiasco was a little glossy but good on the nose, the plate did show a little more saturated dark fruit of the modern style with an almost shortbread note as well, there was richness and overall enjoyment. The Big ‘d had a full nose, quite extracted but not too much, a little iodine. The palate was impressive, succulent and sweet enough to carry off the generous texture, nice wine.

Flight 4
2004 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio, Scavino

2004 Barolo Rocche dell’ Annunziata Riserva, Scavino
I was not familiar with the Ambrogio, it had dark, quite rich fruit with a little soy, it was quite straightforward but very enjoyable. The Annunziata was both opulent, rich and also serious, good savoury notes and a wine that will need time. 

Flight 5
2004 Barolo Lazzarito, Vietti
2004 Barolo Rocche, R. Voerzio
I had a good bottle of the Lazzarito 2007 in Piedmont recently and this was also lovely, good for just drinking now really, quite open and opulent. The Rocche from Voerzio was rich and full with a lot of texture and more dense than flamboyant at this stage.

Conclusions: I think this was a very encouraging tasting, there was a lot of good fruit and most wines were well balanced and starting to struct their stuff, there was a certain consistency of quality of not necessarily an overriding vintage character (yet). When you consider that this was mostly good to very good second tier producers (no Bartolo,  Rinaldi, Giacosa or Conterno) I think it is all the more encouraging.

A big thank you to Alastair for bring this together and to everyone for their bottles

There was one more wine – 2014 Terlaner Classico – which is a blend of 60% Pinot Blanc, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, it was almost spritzy and served as a good end of evening lift!

Agnolotti in Brodo
Baccala, Tomato and Olive

Grilled Veal Chop, Summer Griolles and Spinach