PIO CESARE BAROLO 2005
"Il vino fa buon sangue.” … (Good wine makes good blood). A common Italian proverb believed to have originated in Tuscany about wine and good health, like “An apple a day….”
Barolo is the region, a D.O.G.C. within Piedmont in northern Italy in which the Nebbiolo grapes for this wine are grown. Nebbiolo is grown in other areas and used in making wine. Also well-known is Barbaresco; not so well known are wines labeled Gattinara or Langhe (and there are others). Barolo is considered the gold standard for the Nebbiolo grape and this one from Peo Cesare (ARP now $55) is well regarded with scores of 93 from Wine Spectator, 91 by Wine Advocate, 91 from Wine Enthusiast and 90 by Tanzer.
Regardless, all taste (like politics) is personal. And Nebbiolo wines can be assertive early on, requiring time to evolve. Young, they are tartly acidic and with gripping tannins. (This 2005, for example, could easily be enjoyed through 2020). Early on, these wines will offer scents of tar and roses. (Even now, I admit to finding tastes and aromas that many find pleasing a bit confounding). Either way, as they age in bottle and tannins balance, more fruit becomes evident: cherry, raspberry, blackberry and prune, along with non-fruit notes of violet, truffle, tobacco and tar. Aromas of licorice, violet and clove are common.
The winery was founded in 1881 by Cesare Pio with vineyards near the town of Alba where the winery itself still sits today. Combining the benefits of modern technology with tradition, the winery produces wines considered stylistic but traditional.
In the glass, my 2005, for example, was of medium cherry color. Picture Pinot Noir with orange hues - classic Barolo. As Barolo ages, its perfume enhances. I was struck by a strong nose of spicy cherry and dried flowers. Pronounced in the flavor was black cherry and plum. Still, this 2005 (after 3 years aging, and a vintage from 11 years ago) had tannins up front that were lengthy and carried into the finish. This is not “breakfast wine.” I paired it with veal Osso Bucco, parsnip puree and roasted and seasoned rainbow carrots and wedges of sweet potato.
But this is a wine you can also enjoy by itself, to contemplate over its complexity. I find it a good companion also with cheese such as Grana Padano, or with duck or roast goose or beef, veal or lamb. Tannins interact nicely with the fats in these foods in a symbiotic way. Whatever you choose, however, Barolo benefits from decanting. I fear just leaving the bottle open for a few hours won’t do the job. And while you needn’t impress your friends with a decanter looking more like an art project, you will benefit from even a simple one with a large open top; one allowing the wine to be caressed by air. Respect the age of older wines, (decant gently, forgo the blender) and let patience reward you with a wine of intrigue.
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Grape: Nebbiolo, 100%
Vinification: Stainless steel tanks. About 20 days of skin contact
Ageing: Medium toast French oak for 3 years: 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks (a hectoliter is 100 liters, or about 26.5 gallons), and 30% in barriques.