Vecchio Barolo and Barbaresco #4 - 1980's and 1990's

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Fair warning: most of the wines offered here are in a sweet spot, and consuming them may lead to  developing an obsession with drinking the wine again, trying similar wines, and otherwise being distracted from  whatever it was that previously had your attention.

1980: Ratti, Annata Ottima, Equilibrato (balanced);  Wasserman *+; Galloni 97 pts

Years ago our Nebbiolo-expert friend Gregory Dal Piaz shared the fact that the 1980 Barolo and Barbaresco was overlooked, and subsequent exploration confirmed this. The wines are not blockbusters, but they are expressive, “Equilibrato” (balanced) and still quite fresh.

1981: Ratti, Annata Normale, Elegante; Wasserman *-; Galloni 81 pts

For anniversary and birth year purposes.

1982: Ratti, Annata Grande*, Maestoso (“majestic”); Wasserman ****-; Galloni 97 pts

A very grand year indeed, producing powerful, well-balanced wines, with a lot of complexity and depth. Most wines are at peak drinking age.

1983: Ratti, Annata Buona, Elegante; Wasserman *+; Galloni 85 pts

Another vintage for anniversary and birth year purposes.

1984: Ratti, Annata Normale, Elegante; Wasserman *-; Galloni 85 pts

Ditto.

1985: Ratti, Annata Eccezionale**, Maestoso; Wasserman ****; Galloni 96 pts

As you can see from the ratings above, 1985 is big deal vintage. The wines are more advanced than the ‘82s – definitely ready to drink.

1986: Ratti, Annata Ottima, Elegante; Wasserman ***; Galloni 92 pts

I will forever hold dear Tommasso’s (in Bensonhurst Brooklyn) for introducing me to 1986 via Giacosa  Barbaresco Santo Stefano, along with one of the truly memorable restaurant dinners I’ve had (featuring plin with white truffle). The wine was sublime. Galloni describes the ‘86s as “deep, powerful, and expressive”; my impression is of rather more restrained and Burgundian wines.

1987: Ratti, Annata Buona, Equilibrato; Wasserman **-; Galloni 88 pts

There doesn’t seem to be much 1987 out there – perhaps they drank well young and so disappeared. In any case, buy the Produttori if you find it.

1988: Ratti, Annata Ottima, Maestoso, Wasserman ****-; Galloni 92 pts

Renato Ratti died in 1988, so (I assume) the Ratti notes after ’88 are by his son Pietro who took over the winery. After 1988, the most disparaging term used by Ratti is “Normale”; it’s a challenge not to think that the ratings go out of their way in being boosterish, but then again, there’s something positive to discover about almost every vintage.

1989: Ratti, Annata Grande*, Eccezionale; Wasserman ****+; Galloni 98 pts

This is my favorite vintage in Piedmont, and it always has been because the wines are delicious, balanced, fresh, elegant, transparent, etc etc. Over many years I keep thinking that they’re going to become less appealing, or at least shut-down, but now I don’t think they’re  going to. As Galloni has written: “There are few wines I’d rather drink than a top 1989 Barolo or Barbaresco.

1990: Ratti, Annata Grande**, Eccezionale; Wasserman ****; Galloni 96 pts

Never my favorite big-deal vintage; the hot weather that year made for many opaque, over-powering wines. Nonetheless I’ve tasted a few recently and they have really begun to drink much better than I ever expected. They certainly have years ahead.

The 1990 is the last vintage rated by Sheldon Wasserman, who died in 1992; his “The Great Red Wines of Italy”, published the same year, remains an indispensable reference.

1993: Ratti, Annata Ottima, Elegante; Galloni 89 pts

Originally a little too shrill to be much fun, they seem to be mellowing and becoming more appealing.

1995: Ratti, Annata Ottima, Elegante; Galloni 88 pts

I like 1995 more than Galloni – the wines are austere and structured, but they are starting to show hints of yielding, and I think some have great long-term potential.

1996: Ratti, Annata Grande, Maestoso; Galloni 96 pts

I agree with the pundits: 1996 was a great vintage; the best wines are still not near their peak.

1997: Ratti, Annata Eccezionale, Maestoso**; Galloni 97 pts

A hot year, and the wines show it. I can’t agree with the pundits, but whadda I know?

1998: Ratti, Annata Grande*, Elegante; Galloni 93 pts

Balanced, rich wines that are drinking very well now.

1999: Ratti, Annata Eccezionale**; Galloni 96 pts

As it says above: an exceptional vintage.

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Rinaldi, Francesco 1982 Barolo Cannubio

Tasted 4-5 times recent years, this is still young, but beginning to show some lovely old-wine truffley/forest notes, along with more delicate rose and strawberry aromas. There's plenty of material balancing ripe tannin, and a long long finish. I love this wine, and I think it's a great buy for this level of quality. JW

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