A Magical Evening of Great Barolos at Cru
An evening at Cru is always a memorable experience, and this
night was no exception as we were treated to an amazing dinner featuring great
food, wine, and most important of all, the company of close friends. Readers who love older wines owe it to
themselves to pay a visit to Cru and to explore its breathtaking wine list,
which offers a rich treasure trove of selections. I think it is fair to say that every major
producer of note is well represented in an astonishing range of vintages. On this occasion the focus was on Bruno
Giacosa’s Red Label Riservas from the mid-1980s although we did have a chance
to taste some other great wines as well.
The four of us had no problem polishing off these fine bottles…quite an
achievement especially given that my wife does not drink much.
Service at Cru was impeccable. Wine Director Robert Bohr and his staff did a
great job serving the wines throughout the course of the dinner. The almost-fanatical attention to the details
of wine service, including the temperature of the wines, decanting, stemware
and the labeling of multiple glasses on the table showed the highest level of
professionalism and made for a very enjoyable evening. Between the four of us I think we tried most,
if not all of the dishes on Chef Shea Gallante’s tasting menu. Highlights included the Toro tuna, white
polenta soup, confit rabbit, Maine lobster and a lovely perfectly cooked sliced
squab breast. We started with the outrageous
1996 Dom Pérignon and then moved into the following wines.
2001 Di Poli
Sauvignon Voglar – Peter Di Poli is the outspoken vigneron behind one of
Italy’s most intriguing Sauvignons. Di
Poli’s Voglar is a wine that screams Trentino terroir and varietal, with plenty
of ripe fruit, wet stone, smoke, mint and tomato leaf notes. This wine does not undergo malolactic
fermentation and is aged in cask, giving it a somewhat lean, crisp personality
that was perfect with our raw seafood starters.
A few years of bottle age have also added more body, richness, and
complexity than when last tasted two years ago.
A great effort. 90/drink
(Bartolo) Mascarello Barolo – Medium faded red. The 1971 shows advanced aromas of tobacco
and leather along with a persistent note of barnyard that does not blow
off. It is a soft-spoken, hushed wine
without much fruit, but with a lovely open and delicate texture on the
palate. Predictably this was more
evolved than when last tasted from 1.9 liter magnum (see Piedmont Report Issue 1) and did not improve once opened. It appears to be a wine to drink sooner
rather than later.
Perhaps overly seduced by the romantic notions of ‘terroir’
and ‘tradition’ I used to think that it was acceptable for wines like this to
have dirty aromas and flavors. I now
believe that these qualities are serious defects that mar what could have been
- and should have been - unforgettably great Barolos. While the 1971 is not a wine for the
uninitiated, it will appeal to those who enjoy this producer’s unique
expression of Barolo, with both its prized qualities and flaws on display. Personally I wish this wine was cleaner,
especially on the nose. I place Mascarello’s 1971 behind the great 1978, 1982,
and 1985 vintages. 89/drink now-, 10/05
1985 Bruno Giacosa
Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano – Medium ruby. The 1985 Santo Stefano is an outrageous,
decadent wine. It offers an ethereal,
perfumed nose along with layers of dark fruit in soft, seductive style, closing
with a blast of tar on the finish. The
Santo Stefano is the more open of these 1985 Giacosas. It is an irresistible wine to drink today and
I would choose to drink my remaining bottles over the next five or so years
while the fruit and vibrancy are still present.
97/drink now-, 10/05
1985 Bruno Giacosa
Barolo Riserva Falletto – Medium evolved ruby. The Falletto is another great wine for
current drinking. It shows an alcoholic
nose and plenty of lush, sweet fruit with notes of dark macerated cherries,
spices and menthol that gradually reveal themselves as the wine sits in the glass. Although the Falletto is a wine of greater
overall structure, it is softer and more advanced in its flavors than the Santo
Stefano, and ideally it too should be consumed over the next few years. 96/drink now-, 10/05
1986 Bruno Giacosa
Barolo Riserva Falletto – Dark ruby.
The revelation of the night, Giacosa’s 1986 Falletto Riserva is also one
of my all-time favorites from this producer.
It is a stunning Barolo, displaying a classic, deep nose of roses, tar,
and smoke followed by massive amounts of dark, sweet fruit wrapped around a
tight core of iron-like minerality, with tremendous structure, length, and
freshness on the finish. This superb,
multi-dimensional Barolo appears to still be a few years away from its peak,
and should offer profound drinking until at least age 30 and probably
beyond. An awesome effort. 97/drink now-, 10/05
Editor’s note: Cru has
closed since this article was first published.