Barolo is one of the iconic wines in the world. Made from the noble Nebbiolo grape in Piedmont, Italy, it's known for being powerful, high acid, high tannin, high alcohol and very long lived. In fact, until recently, the idea of drinking Barolo young would've been sacrilege.
The last decade has seen many changes in Piedmont. From global warming to the proliferation of modern winemaking techniques, the wines of Barolo are becoming more accessible and at a younger age. This does hit at the heart of many International/New World vs Traditional/Old World debates when it comes to the wines.
No matter which side of the debate you find yourself, the times they are a-changin' in Piedmont and for wine drinkers, this means you can now find traditional styled Barolos, aged in Slovenian oak for decades, or newer, more fruit driven wines aged in French oak and ready to drink in (gasp) as few as 5 years! In fact, I have several friends who are fans of young basic Nebbiolo wines, not of the Barolo or Barbaresco regions, but from the general area. While these wines hold little appeal to me, their presence is growing within the wine drinking community.
But back to tonight's wine. Michele Chiarlo is a producer of the more "modern" style of Barolo and the 2008 Barolo Tortoniano is 100% Nebbiolo aged in large French oak barrels. The Michele Chiarlo website gives the wine a lifespan of 18-20 years and says this about the place of origin for the wine:
"Tortoniano" Barolo takes its name from the Tortonian geological area. Tortonian soil is characterised by sedimentary clay marl known as Saint Agatha, interspersed with bluish-grey sandstone, which gives rise to a Barolo of exceptional elegance and endowed with marked and complex fragrances as well as a rich taste,with delicate, highly pleasing tannins.
At just six years of age, I found it to be drinking exceptionally well.
As is characteristic of Nebbiolo, the wine is garnet and already turning a bit brickish in color. The nose carries desiccated cherry balanced with delicate hints of flowers, leather, earth and spice. The acidity is quite high, and the big tannins are fully integrated and just turning silky. This is a great wine with food, especially red meat and game, but is perfectly delicious on it's own since it has wonderful complexity.
I will be definitely picking up more bottles and can't wait to try it again in a few years.
Labels: Barolo, Italy, Nebbiolo, Wine, Wine Review