Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > The Empson Barolo, Brunello, and Barbaresco Offerings at MacArthur Beverages

The Empson Barolo, Brunello, and Barbaresco Offerings at MacArthur Beverages


For the first time ever I went to MacArthur Beverages and left without purchasing a single bottle of wine. I did not mind as I went there for the 2012 Empson USA Barolo, Brunello, and Barbaresco spring offering. There were over one dozen wines opened for tasting with the bottles spread across two tables. As these wines are not yet available in the States this was a great opportunity to taste a variety of Barolo from the highly acclaimed 2008 vintage. Across the board all of these wines will be long-lived and except for tasting them for the purpose of deciding what to buy, the best should not be tasted again for close on to a decade. My favorite wines had good, deep fruit, and enough acidity to balance the tannins while providing an interesting aftertaste whose flavors captivated me more than the substantial tannins that dried out my mouth.

My favorite wines, in alphabetical order:

  • 2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, Barolo
  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Rapet, Barolo
  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta, Barolo
  • 2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, Barolo
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi, Barolo

The following were very good as well, with very strong potential, but were quite tight, possibly requiring even greater age:

  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra, Barolo

Table 1

I started off at the table which initially had the least number of people standing around. Armed with a proper glass and my little plastic cup doubling as a spittoon, I carved out a tasting space on top of and in between two rows of Australian wines. This table was sampling nine different Barolos from the 2008 vintage. My favorites were the 2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, and the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi. I would follow these three with the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra.

2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Barolo DOCG – $51
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from 4.9 acre vineyard in Castiglione Falletto where the vines are 30 years old on clayey soils. It is aged for 24+ months in French barriques. There was a light nose of delicate red and blue fruit. In the mouth the flavors were of harder red fruit, a darker finish, and fine-grained tannins.

2008 Marcarini, La Serra, Barolo DOCG – $52
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a single vineyard. It is aged for two years in Slavonian oak. There was a light nose of redder fruit mixed with herbs. In the mouth the up-front red fruit was tight but still retained a bit of ripeness. There were fewer noticeable tannins than the Bongiovanni.

2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, Barolo DOCG – $63
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a plot within the 4.9 vineyard in Castiglione Falletto. The grapes are left on the vines for several days after the regular Barolo is harvest. It is aged in a mixture of new and used French barriques. The nose was a touch more aromatic with darker aromas of cherry and blue fruit. In the mouth flavors started with ripe fruit which dried out as the flavors became expansive with a good finish and aftertaste which left pervasive dark red notes. Very good.

2008 Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Terlo, Barolo DOCG – $58
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from vineyards at 984 feet with vine up to 50 years of age. It is aged for 30 months in French oak barriques and Slavonian oak barrels. There was a tight nose of red framed aromas. In the mouth the brighter red fruit showed barrel notes with very fine-grained citric tannins. This gave up the least.

2008 Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Nei Cannubi, Barolo DOCG – $75
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from plots planted in 1945, 1962, and 1991 at 722 feet. It is aged for 18-20 months in French barriques and 10-12 months in Allier oak barrels. The nose was higher-toned with delicate red fruit and herbs. In the mouth the controlled, ripe fruit dropped off in the finish as very fine, drying tannins came out.

2008 Marcarini, Brunate, Barolo DOCG – $54
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a single vineyard. It is aged for two years in Slavonian oak. The nose revealed subtle ripe red fruit then a little dark aroma. In the mouth the fruit mixed with light red acidity, herbs, a dry floral note, and a nice wood toned aspect. There were tight, fine, drying tannins.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, Barolo DOCG – $73
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the cru Ginestra at 984 feet. It was aged for 24 months in French oak. This sported a lovely finely textured, floral nose. In the mouth the beautiful red fruit mixed with floral flavors in an elegant manner. There were dried herbs and a drying finish with good acidity. Very good.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi, Barolo DOCG – $78
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced a vineyard at 1312 feet. Some vines date back to 1950 with others replanted in 1999-2000. The nose with riper with a blue notes. The fuller mouth revealed a dry wood note with almost a sweet spice in the finish. This was very pleasing from the start and finished with sweeter tannins. Very good as well.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra, Barolo DOCG – $83
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the cru Ginestra at 984 feet. It was aged for 24 months in French oak. There was a floral and licorice nose leaning towards black fruit. The mouth followed the nose but surprised with an assertive finish which was compact and tense. The flavors departed with ultra fine drying tannins. A rather interesting wine that will take longer to develop than the Vigna del Gris and Mosconi.

Table 2

Located in the back-left corner Gary Diamond from Empson USA was poured seven wines from Tuscany and Piedmont. I particularly liked the 2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino, the 2008 Ca’Rome, Rapet, Barolo, and the 2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta. I would follow-up these three with the 2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco.

2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – $61
This wine is 100% Sangiovese aged for 18 months in Slavonian oak barrels and 18 months in French tonneaux. This was a good start with a light, delicately fruity nose with some red-blue gritty aromas. In the mouth the flavors were tight yet had a creamy feel with flavors of red fruit, herbs, salivating acidity, and low-lying fine tannins. The flavors were darker in the aftertaste. Very good.

2007 Eredi Fuligni, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – $67
This wine is 100% Sangiovese aged for more than 36 months in Slavonian oak barrels and French tonneaux. The nose was tight. In the mouth the structured black fruit showed some ripeness, an interesting array of flavors, with a shorter aftertaste of ripe black fruit.

2009 Ca’Rome’, Sori Rio Sordo, Barbaresco DOCG – $67
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet planted in 1969. It was aged for 12 months in oak barrels with a small portion in barrique. There was a nice nose of black fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tight with black fruit, a structured aspect, and very fine drying tannins. Good potential but this bottle was closed.

2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco DOCG – $74
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet from late-ripening vines made only in the best years. It was aged for 24 months in Slavonian barrels with a small portion in barrique. The light nose revealed herbed red fruit. In the mouth there was ripe red acidity, structure, good weight, and slightly chewy flavors. There were fine+ drying tannins. Good in the mouth.

2008 Ca’Rome, Rapet, Barolo DOCG – $69
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from cru Serralunga which was planted in 1972. It was age for 24 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak with a small portion in barrique. The nose was of dark red and blue fruits. The flavors started with a saline touch, a nice density, well-balanced, and a dark aftertaste. Very good.

2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta, Barolo DOCG – $70
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet and Lampia sourced from a single vineyard which was planted in 1961. It was age for 24 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak with a small portion in barrique. There was a familiar style to the previous wine but the flavors were stepped up with an incense note, dark red fruit, and good mouthfeel. There was a hint of ink and a notch more tannins than the Rapet.

2008 Orma, Bolgheri Rosso – $58
This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20$ Cabernet Franc aged for 14 months in French barriques. Obviously different with more roast on the nose. The riper and richer flavors were more assertive with a chunky, dark earth component. The drying tannins made way to an aftertaste with a wood note.

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