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From 1971 Barisone, Barolo to a 2012 Italian Red Auslese: An Italian Themed Tasting with Lou

Lou and I recently got together in his tasting room to continue exploring older wines.  The theme was Italian wine so we naturally started with the 2008 Weingut Ratzenburger, Steeger St. Jost, Riesling Spatlese Trocken from Germany.  The fruit for this wine was sourced from the steep Steeger St. Jost vineyard which is located on soils of blue-black Devon slate.  This area called Bacharach famously takes its name from the Celtic Baccaracum or slate altar of Bacchus.  Sadly this was destroyed in the mid 19th century.  David Schildknecht reports that fermentation did not finish until mid-July.  Maybe this is why the wine had such a gentle nature.

The red wines began with the 2012 Ignaz Niedrist, Sudtirol, Kalterersee Auslese which I mistakenly (and understandably) mistook for an Austrian wine.  Regardless, I believe this is the first red Italian Auslese I have ever drunk.  Its actually quite good being a fresh and crisp wine with darker fruit.  We then moved back four decades to the 1971 Osvaldo Barisone (Francesco Rinaldi), Barolo.  There is absolutely no indication on the label that this wine was made by Francesco Rinaldi and if you search online everyone states as such but with no reference.  The ever thorough Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. provided the reference.  The Osvaldo Barisone wine shop still exists in Turin.  After Mannie secured his parcel he interviewed Osvaldo Barisone with the help of an interpreter who stated himself that the wine came in demijohns from Francesco Rinaldi.  Note, this does not imply that other vintages of Barisone are from Francesco Rinaldi.  This name might sound familiar because Darryl and Nancy opened a bottle of 1967 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Barolo.  You may read about this wine and a little more background in my post Tasting Old Wines with Darryl and Nancy at Blue Grass Tavern. Our particular bottle of 1971 was incredibly aromatic and showed intriguing tension in flavor.  I have not drunk much older Barolo so to combine that experience with drinking a demi-john aged wine from a top-notch vintage is positively unique.  There are still bottles available so I recommend you snag one to try.

The 1988 Antonio Vallana, Spanna del Piemonte came from a large parcel of wines imported by Mannie Berk.  For background on this wine please check out the Vallana Retrospective at Del Posto and Ken Vastola’s tasting notes from that dinner Vallana Vertical: 2010 – 1954.  According to the Wassermans, Vallana used to produce six different Spannas until the inauguration of the DOC.  So its possible this is a blend from five vineyards.  Our bottle was decisively more barnyard in aroma than fruity.   Lou conjured up the straw descriptor which I could not shake from my mind.  We finished the evening with the very modern 2003 Oriel, Etereo, Barolo.  I found it decent the first evening, clearly very young, but on the second evening it showed strong potential as a very modern Barolo.


2008 Weingut Ratzenburger, Steeger St. Jost, Riesling Spatlese Trocken – $29
Imported by Fleet Street Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 11.5%.  There was a more floral nose with low-lying aromas of apple and pear.  In the mouth there was a touch of creaminess and some density.  The wine picked up some weight, stone notes, and a touch of acidity on the sides of the tongue.  There was some tang in the dry finish.  This wine had a gentle nature.  *** Now-2019.


2012 Ignaz Niedrist, Sudtirol, Kalterersee Auslese – $25
Imported by Fleet Street Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Trollinger.  Alcohol 13%.  There were cooler aromas of red and black fruit.  The enjoyable nose eventually took on Kool-Aid aromas.  In the mouth were attractive flavors of darker red fruit.  There was good acidity in this fresh, crisp wine that had slightly grippy tannins.  The cherry fruit was lighter in body yielding a clean finish and good aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.


1971 Osvaldo Barisone (Francesco Rinaldi), Barolo – $125
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was intensely aromatic with leather, dusty fruit, roasted meats, mushrooms, and eventually chocolate powder.  In the mouth it was very fresh with tart red cranberry flavors and an orange hint.  The mouthfilling flavors had a lot of verve leaving texture on the tongue and the throat.  There was a lot of acidity which gave tension to the flavors.    There was acidity and tart fruit on the tongue from the beginning morphing into a tangy finish and long aftertaste. This has a long life ahead.  **** Now-2029+.


1988 Antonio Vallana, Spanna del Piemonte –
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a true barnyard nose with dark red fruit, straw, and an underlying mix of fruit.  In the mouth the tart red and black fruit turned more citric red with a wood note in the middle.  Then a burst of brighter fruit came out, subsided, only to return in the finish.  There was water acidity and a lengthy aftertaste of mellow, dark flavors.  *** Now-2026.


2003 Oriel, Etereo, Barolo –
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the Monforte d’Alba region.  It was aged for 30 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a Nebbiolo nose with sweet spice and just a little maturity.  In the mouth was a tight core of fruit that was powdery, dark, and primary.  The flavors were tightly wound but ripe with wood notes from tannins that built in texture.  With air this very modern wine revealed its dense and clean flavors with refined texture.  ***(*) Now-2034.

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