Vecchio Barolo & Barbaresco #1: the 1950's (and a little from the 1940's)

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  1. Old wine can be a magical experience. The wine itself can be excellent, and if you’re even mildly nostalgic about the past then it’s pretty special to have a bottle from a year that’s important to many people (1945, anyone?), or a great vintage (1947), or meaningful to you – your birth year, or anniversary, for instance.
  2. The oldest Barolo I’ve tasted – Fontanafredda 1908 – was very pale and delicate, but much better than just being potable, and a remarkable survivor from a world that had more in common with previous centuries than with ours. The quality of the vintage is important, but old vintages have personal significance that can override other considerations; I’m born in 1956 which was, everywhere, one of the worst vintages recorded. Nonetheless I always get a kick out of tasting a ’56, and (perhaps since their weak reputation lowers expectations) they are actually pretty good.
  3. Rating vintages is a matter based on the taster’s experience. Naturally consensus forms around certain years (1989 = 5*, no matter who you ask), but otherwise timing is everything. In the 1960s Renato Ratti, rated 1945 as “buona annata”; Sheldon Wasserman (published 1990) gives it zero out of 4 possible stars; Antonio Galloni gives it 92 points, along with brief note outlining his reasons for the strong score. Now you can be the judge! Jamie Wolff
Renatto Ratti's vintage chart                     

 

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