Last Sunday night 120 of us convened for the sell-out Barolo Night we offered in early September at Caravan Kings Cross, where we enjoyed a truly exceptional collection of 48 Baroli (see full list below). Indeed, Federico Scarzello (pictured below with post-harvest beard), the head of the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo that kindly shipped over the wines (donated to me as part of being their principal guest at the launch of the 2009 vintage), pointed out that it was so unusual to have the chance to taste all of these wines together that even he was taking full advantage of the opportunity.
We were fortunate in having our Italian specialist Walter Speller, with Federico's help, handpick the crus and producers he felt were most representative of the communes on show, arranged from lighter to heavier (left to right above) in terms of weight of the wines and intensity of tannins. We are deeply indebted to the producers who so kindly donated the wines.
Our aim with this evening was not to make money (we charged only £75 a head, to cover room hire, glass and equipment hire, copious food, going-home bags and tasting catalogue). Our principal aim was to give Purple Pagers a chance to meet each other and to explore the truly great wines of this beautiful part of the world, wines that have long been under-appreciated in the UK - particularly in comparison with how they are appreciated in the US, and how well-known the fine wines of France are in the UK.
Richard Hemming, pictured left and on the left with Walter, took charge of the details of the organisation and delivered a magnificently hitch-free evening. I am told there was many a hitch behind the scenes, especially when it came to getting all the bottles safely from each individual property to the Enoteca in the village of Barolo (a great place to sample up to 40 different wines available each day) to Kings Cross via UK customs and Sensible Wine Services' warehouse in Kent. But, mercifully, he and Walter spared me the detail.
We had impeccable tasting sheets for our 36 Barolo 2009s, and 12 additional older vintages back to 1989 to demonstrate what happens when Barolo ages. We had Federico's rigorously made sparkling pink Erpacrife Spumante Nebbiolo 2008 (seen here with ex-sommelier Walter) while waiting for everyone to arrive. We had masses of delicious San Daniele prosciutto, cheese, wood-fired pizze, zucchini fritti with aioli and lamb cutlets with lemon and garlic to keep the wolf from the door. But perhaps best of all, in addition to wines that demonstrated the variety, intricacy and delicacy of Barolo so eloquently, Walter insisted on Riedel red burgundy glasses, which demonstrated the haunting aromas of fine Barolo quite beautifully.
In my prosaic way I had been worried that the attrition rate of these large, delicate glasses would be fiendish but, to my amazement, we found at the end of the evening that not a single one had been broken.
Our guests, all of whom seemed to arrive in very good time and leave politely according to our timetable of 6.30-9 pm, were extremely well-behaved and many of them were clearly already extremely knowledgeable. That said, I know we also made many converts to the beauty of Barolo.
There were calls for 'Next time, Barbaresco' and 'Next time, Chianti Classico'. No one suggested 'Next time, Bordeaux', funnily enough. Though one seasoned wine educator shook his head in amazement. 'This is definitely the way to go', he said. 'So much better than the tutored tasting.'
At least I think that's what he said. Below right are members of the JancisRobinson.com team, top to bottom, Julia, Rachel, Tam and me. Alex somehow managed to evade Richard's camera, so ably mastered by professional photographer Lee 'Mr Rachel' Shaughnessy. Below us are assorted scenes of people taking maximum advantage of all these glorious wines on one long table.
Walter's notes on virtually all of the 2009s are already in our tasting notes database (see Barolo 2009 overview and 200+ reviews). I'll try to add my notes on the older vintages when I have time to unscramble my scribbles. There were too many people for my usual laptop-and-sixpack ploy - I'm delighted to say.
Theses are listed by commune below. There were, probably inevitably, one or two late changes but these were the wines that arrived. Nothing ran out.
Erpacrife, Spumate Nebbiolo 2008 Italy
Fratelli Alessandria, Monvigliero 2009 Barolo
Sandrone, Cannubi 2009 Barolo
Serio e Battista Borgogno 2009 Barolo
Damilano, Cannubi 2009 Barolo
Chiara Boschis, Via Nuova 2009 Barolo
Giorgio Scarzello e Figli, Sarmassa 2009 Barolo
Brezza, Sarmassa 2009 Barolo
G D Vajra, Bricco dell Viole 2009 Barolo
Barale, Castellero 2009 Barolo
Elvio Cogno, Ravera 2009 Barolo
Aurelio Settimo, Rocche dell'Annunziata 2009 Barolo
Mauro Veglio, Rocche dell'Annunziata 2009 Barolo
Elio Altare, Arborina 2009 Barolo
Michele Chiarlo, Cerequio 2009 Barolo
Marcarini, Brunate 2009 Barolo
Francesco Rinaldi e Figli, Brunate 2009 Barolo
Aldo Conterno, Bussia 2009 Barolo
Colla, Bussia 2009 Barolo
Giacomo Fenocchio, Bussia 2009 Barolo
Conterno Fantino, Ginestra 2009 Barolo
Paolo Conterno, Ginestra 2009 Barolo
Domenico Clerico, Cianot Mentin 2009 Barolo
Elio Grasso, Ginestra 2009 Barolo
Parusso, Bussia 2009 Barolo
Giovanni Manzone, Catelletto 2009 Barolo
Josetta Saffirio, Castelletto 2009 Barolo
Oddero, Villera 2009 Barolo
Brovia, Villero 209 Barolo
Vietti, Rocche 2009 Barolo
Paolo Scavino, Bric del Fiasc 2009 Barolo
Cavallotto, Bricco Boschis 2009 Barolo
Guido Porro, Vigna Lazzairasco 2009 Barolo
Ettore Germano, Cerretta 2009 Barolo
Giovanni Rosso, Ceretta 2009 Barolo
Mauro Sebaste, Prapò 2009 Barolo
Ceretto, Prapò 2009 Barolo
Paolo Scavino, Bric del Fiasc 2005 Barolo
Cordero di Montezemolo, Bricco Gattera 2005 Barolo
Damilano, Cannubi 2003 Barolo
Luigi Einaudi, Cannubi 2004 Barolo
Gianni Gagliardo, Serre 2004 Barolo
Michele Chiarlo, Cerequio 2004 Barolo
Vietti, Lazzarito 2004 Barolo
Pio Cesare 2004 Barolo
Franco M Martinetti, Marasco 2003 Barolo
Luciano Sandrone, Cannubi Boschis 2003 Barolo
Azelia, Bricco Fiasco 2001 Barolo
To the next time!