Tasted from barrel, with about one year to go before it will be bottled, the 2014 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is shaping up to be a true icon. From an analytical point of view, this vintage records slightly higher tannins (compared to 2013), and this is something winemaker Roberto Conterno looks to with attention, especially because his entire philosophy and methodology prizes longevity. What I find most interesting here is the sheer density and plumpness of the fruit that defies our expectations of this cooler vintage. That dark fruit richness is perfectly measured to the wine's structural backbone. That relationship between fruit and tannin is ultimately what gives this wine such a precise sense of balance. I will be able to give a final score to this wine in one year's time.
Here are my reviews of barrel samples tasted at the winery the last week of April. Among the samples is a new wine produced for the first time: the 2015 Barolo Arione, made with fruit from one of the estate's most high profile recent land acquisitions. Roberto Conterno will bottle all these wines on June 10th, just as we prepare to go to print. These wines will hit the market in October. When appropriate, I have given final scores to these wines, or a range of scores, accordingly. This year, I not only tasted new vintages, I got to taste from a new glass too. Roberto Conterno has designed new stemware called Sensory. With the help of his son who made 3-D computer designs from Roberto’s hand sketches, the Sensory glass offers these distinguishing factors: 1) The universal glass is used for both white and red wines; 2) The base of the balloon is almost flat, giving the wine a wider rest area at the bottom; 3) The side curve of the balloon is taller and wider, at a very open angle. This gives the wine more room to travel when you swirl the glass; and 4) The actual stem is on the short side, giving you the ideal distance between your fingers to hold the glass steady. My impression? Wow, this glass is to wine what high definition is to a television screen.