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Borgogno Barolo tasting at Rheingau Gourmet festival – in between tradition and modernity

Andrea Farinetti, the winemaker at Giacomo Borgogno e Figli  is only 22 years old. The estate however, which his family bought in 2008, was founded back in 1761. What a contrast! And somehow all is said: at Borgogno both tradition and modernity are very important. Tradition translates through the use of big Slavonian oak casks as opposed to new, smaller Barriques and also through a very late release of the wines, as to prevent disappointment with wines that might be opened too early. On the other hand there’s modernity which probably shows in the pragmatism that each vintage demands from the winemakers and the implementation of modern findings into the vineyard work.

At the Rheingau Gourmet festival we were lucky to attend  a tasting of 8 Borgogno wines with the comments of Andrea Farinetti and his colleague from the marketing side of the estate. The tasting was held at Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung, a Riesling and Pinot estate in Hattenheim within the Rheingau region. Here are my tasting notes:

2011 Freisa Borgogno

2011 Freisa – the tasting starts with a varietal I have never had before: Freisa. It is a wine made for early drinking, crisp, fresh and full of fruit. In the nose I find cherries, liquorice and some violet. On the palate it appears light and crisp with some present tannins, maybe one more year of cellaring would improve the wine, but then again for accompanying terrines, pâtés and some intensely seasoned sausages, this might be perfect right now. It has a refreshing quality to it. A simple but fragrant wine with short length, it somehow reminds me of Beaujolais wines and the Gamay varietal, in a good way!

Borgogno Tasting

Wine 2 and 3 (from the left hand side on the picture) are 2011 Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Alba Superiore, the latter being a selection coming from the same Barbera vines on calcerinous soils and ageing an entire year in oak barrels as opposed to half-a-year for the simple Barbera. Both wines are delicious specimen, both juicy with great acidity, full of fruit and with a backbone of fine tannins and spice. The harmony in these wines is just perfect. The simple Barbera being a little more crisp and vibrant, the Superiore a little more voluptuous, round, elegant and with finer tannins. 2 very appealing wines which could match any meat dish and will add a refreshing touch to heavier meats or venison. Wines worth being seeked out: the simple Barbera is priced at around 13 Euro, for the Superiore I haven’t found a price yet.  ++

2011 Nebbiolo Borgogno

Then we went on to the 2011 Nebbiolo which represents an early harvest selection from the Barolo vineyards, maybe from younger vines. This one is incredibly light in color. The nose is extremely fragrant and just jumps at you with an incredible smell of homemade strawberry jam. No kitsch here, just the very pure smell of these berries. On the palate the wine is a mouth full of strawberries and one has the impression to taste a rosé that actually is a red wine. Some of the aromatics remind rosé, but then there are these ultra-fine tannins… Next to the berries I sense some orange peel as well as a liquorice/Cola feel. The finish is very long and there’s still a little CO2 tickling my tongue. An interesting find for me. Not something I’d pack my cellar full, but definitely worth a few bottles for now and then. +

2008 Nebbiolo Borgogno no name

Then there’s the 2008 Nebbiolo which is actually a Barolo but hasn’t received the green light from the institutions, being described as “non-typical” for a Barolo. Thus the winery decided to give it a “protest label” and called the wine “No Name”. It has a much darker colour than the 2011 Nebbiolo and appears as a much more compact wine, with stronger alcohol, more fruit, a little more oak and tannin. There’s a sweet liquorice touch as well in here. A wine that seems to be in for a few more years of cellaring. Somehow I get that there’s a modern touch in there which might not please the institutions. A fine wine though.

2011 No Name Borgogno

We went on with  Barolo wines. The 2007 appeared to me as a compact muscular wine with lots of very fine tannins, liquorice and a very long finish. A wine that shows a little closed and still has to unfold over a few years. I still sense the feel of a rather modern Barolo. One for the cellar.

The 2006 already shows a hint of underwood in the nose which I know from my memory as a typical tone for aged Barolo. It appears somewhat more refined, elegant or feminine than the 2007. Tannins are very fine yet very vivid at the moment. But there’s a good balance and this wine could be a small beauty in a couple of years. +

2003 Barolo Borgogno

Finally there’s the 2003, a complicated vintage all over Europe, as we know. And this directly translates into the wine. There’s a contradiction between the maturity of the fruit and the bold, still youthfully tannic structure of the wine. The color already shows brownish reflections on the side. There’s berries and forest floor on the nose and on the palate, signs of an advanced Barolo, whereas the tannic structure kind of prevents refinement. Hard to say if this wine will get any better, I’d rather say no. The lack of harmony just can’t be caught up I believe. It is not unpleasant to drink, but the lack of harmony is blatant. Drink it now, if you have it. –

Whereas the 3 Barolo from the tasting left mixed impressions and call for further examination and tasting from my side, I am damn sure to affirm that the Barberas are great wines which one could buy blind. I was impressed by the very clear philosophy of the estate and the dynamic personality of this young winemaker. What I might need now is tasting a great Borgogno Barolo at peak, pherhaps the 2007 in a few years. To be continued…

 

PS: The wine cellar at the Georg Müller Estate where the tasting was held, includes a small Art collection. I put some pictures together on the facebook page of this blog.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Barolo,Italy

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