On 12th March, Atlas held a retrospective tasting on G.B. Burlotto’s Barolo Monvigliero spanning 2014-1985. Given that the estate only produces up to 500 cases of the Monvigliero each year, it was a challenge and a feat to put together such a line-up of these wines.
What was evident from the evening was the individuality, quality and consistency across the 10 wines on show. In many ways, not much has changed since Giovanni Batista Burlotto founded the estate in the mid-19th century. Monvigliero is still made using whole clusters and the Burlotto estate remains one of the few to use foot treading to crush the fruit. Long macerations – often as long as one month – are followed by fermentation in large, open botti.
It was fascinating to consider these wines in context of the region. Monvigliero lies within the village of Verduno, which is on the very North edge of Barolo. Terroir expression here is different than the core area of the appellation; Monvigliero is known for the production of wines that are intensely aromatic with, ripe red fruits and lifted floral notes. Tannins tend to be softer and silkier than in other vineyards, thus wines are easier to enjoy young.
As is the case with all of Atlas’ events, we tend to taste in pairs or trios to provide points of reference. The wines between 2014-2008 were poured two hours before tasting, the 1990-1985 just prior to tasting. Please find below comments from Weibo Jiang, of Atlas’, who joined for the evening.
2014, 2013: The immediate impression was that 2013 showed more richness, complexity and structure and impressed with overall completeness of a great vintage. As the wines evolved in glass, however, 2014 began to reveal incredible depth and aromatic complexity. All guests concluded that the gap in terms of quality was far smaller than we would have expected.
2012, 2011, 2010: The 2011 showed immediate attraction, with its expressive aromas of orange blossom, red fruits and olives. We have found that, across this Barolo vintage, many 2011s are drinking beautifully now, and this is one such example. 2012 is a more structured wine, with a more linear expression. It is much more youthful in style, with marked freshness. 2010 is easily one of the greatest Barolo vintages and we had high expectations. We were let down on the night; it seemed to be missing the elegance and complexity which define this vintage. Given that 2010 was a cooler vintage, we discussed how much could be attributed to management of stem quality, as stems sometimes struggle to ripen in cooler temperatures.
2009, 2008: The 2009 was ripe with expressive dark red fruits. Like the 2010, we felt it under-delivered on this showing and felt, perhaps, a little out of balance. The 2008, however, was a great surprise, showing incredible grace and finesse. It is interesting to point out that Antonio Galloni gave the 2008 a mere 89 points. We felt it deserved a much higher score given this showing.
1990, 1989, 1985: These are, simply put, three stunning vintages and the most expressive wines of the evening. We were impressed by the ripeness of the 1990, full of sweet red fruits. The 1989 has a darker fruit core, showing more tertiary mushroom and leather at the fore followed with richness and completeness on palate. The 1985 distinguished itself with lifted bright acidity, floral notes and a beautifully silky texture – an elegant and seductive wine.