Barbaresco: Northern Italian Beauties

Like Ferraris, Barbarescos are from Northern Italy, elegant, very expensive, and almost always worth it

There are two great red wines made in Northern Italy, just to the southwest of Milan—Barolo and Barbaresco. Barolo is the more muscular wine, and Barbaresco the more elegant, fragrant wine. Both are made from 100% nebbiolo, all grown on hillsides. In the region, 2004 has turned out to be a great vintage, so if anyone can find the following wines in that vintage, they are probably even better than 2005, which has turned out to be a much better vintage than initially believed prior to the harvest. Because of the limited production numbers of these wines, they are never cheap, as the demand even in dismal world economic conditions remains elevated. These tasting notes come from my brilliant colleague on Italian wines, Antonio Galloni.

89 points 2005 Carlo Boffa Barbaresco Vitalotti

Boffa's 2005 Barbaresco Vitalotti reveals lovely persistence on the palate, with waves of perfumed, mentholated dark fruit that marry beautifully with the wine's structural components. The wine continues to gain weight in the glass, as balsamic aromas and flavors come to the fore. This firm Barbaresco should develop beautifully over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-20. $49

91 points 2005 Ca' Rome Barbaresco Maria di Brun

Super-ripe cherries, roses, tar, licorice and smoke emerge from the 2005 Barbaresco Maria di Brun. This full-bodied, expansive Barbaresco reveals gorgeous inner perfume and lovely balance, with plenty of stuffing to accompany the tannins from start to finish. This may very well be the finest wine I have tasted from Ca' Rome. Anticipated maturity: 2010-23. $112

91 points 2005 Piero Busso Barbaresco Borgese

The 2005 Barbaresco Borgese flows onto the palate with generous candied cherries, menthol, pine, and spices. This mid-weight Barbaresco shows a level of clarity and transparency that I don't recall seeing here in the past. There is outstanding depth, with well-integrated tannins and a long, refreshing finish. This is a terrific showing from Piero Busso. Anticipated maturity: 2009-19. $45

91 points 2005 Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco

Once again, the Produttori have turned out a gem in their 2005 Barbaresco. A beautiful, perfumed nebbiolo, the wine flows effortlessly from the glass with captivating notes of crushed flowers, raspberries, sweet herbs, and spices. This classic, mid-weight Barbaresco possesses plenty of clean, bright fruit framed by elegant tannins, showing notable harmony. Simply put, this is a classic wine Piedmont lovers won't want to miss. Ideally, the wine should be cellared for a few years, but readers will have a hard time exercising such patience. This is Lot 8.115. Anticipated maturity: 2010-25. $37

91 points 2005 Orlando Abrigo Barbaresco Vigna Rongallo Rocche Meruzzano

Abrigo's 2005 Barbaresco Vigna Rongallo Rocche Meruzzano offers superb length and energy. Made in an understated, sinewy style, the wine blossoms onto the palate with perfumed dark red fruit, smoke, licorice, and flowers, all supported by firm yet well-integrated tannins. Notes of tobacco, licorice, and minerals linger on the long, satisfying finish. This is a beautiful Barbaresco from Abrigo. Anticipated maturity: 2010-20. $70

92 points 2005 Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà

The 2005 Barbaresco Rabajà offers greater freshness and vibrancy than the 2004. I suppose that is not too surprising considering the estate did not produce a Riserva in this vintage, so the oldest vines were used in the non-Riserva bottling. Today the wine comes across as rather primary, which just hints of its perfumed fruit making an appearance. The tannins need some time to soften, but this energetic, focused Barbaresco offers tons of quality, and is likely to be one of the vintage's best kept secrets. Anticipated maturity: 2010-20. $57

92 points 2005 F.lli Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella

The 2005 Barbaresco Serraboella is an intense wine bursting with primary dark fruit and sweet toasted oak. The tannins remain fairly imposing, but the fruit is also fresh, suggesting the wine will age gracefully. This imposing Serraboella is impressive for its breadth and concentration. The wine was aged in a combination of 20-hectoliter casks and smaller French oak barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2012-22. $75

93 points 2005 Castello Di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano

Gorgeous aromatics are woven into a generous, perfumed core of red, dark fruit in Castello di Neive's 2005 Barbaresco Santo Stefano. Made in a richer, fuller style than the Barbaresco, the Santo Stefano reveals notable purity and class. The tannins build nicely on the finish, yet this remains one of the more structured wines of the vintage and will require patience. All of the ingredients are there for this to be a superb wine in a few years' time. Anticipated maturity: 2011-20. $58

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