Exploring Brunate: The 2000 Brunate Barolos

Exploring Brunate is the first in a series of articles in which I will take an in-depth look at the historically famous vineyards in the Barolo and Barbaresco production zones.  I chose Brunate because it is a vineyard that is owned by many producers, so it is possible to taste several interpretations of this site.  I was curious to learn if the wines shared any common traits or if the producers’ styles and/or vintage might overwhelm the specific qualities of the vineyard.  There are three tastings in this section: a horizontal tasting of the 2000 vintage Brunate Barolos, Elio Altare’s Barolo Brunate vintages 1999-2001 and Marcarini’s Barolo Brunate vintages 1996-2001.   Note that some wines appear in more than one tasting in this section and in Issue 2 overall. I have included notes of each wine as I wrote them for each specific tasting.  Some of the notes and scores for the same wine will vary because the context of the tastings was different.

By all accounts, Brunate is one of the most storied vineyards in Piedmont.  As far back as 500 years ago, Brunate had been identified as producing wines of special character.  An old map from the 1477 La Morra land register shows the town’s vineyards as they were known at the time, including Brinata (Brunate), Rocha (Rocche dell’Annunziata), Gateria (Gattera), and well as other well-known crus.   By comparison, we have to wait until 1505 to see La Serra and 1524 to see Cerequio officially recognized.  Brunate is located on the border between the towns of Barolo and La Morra, although most of the vineyard is considered to belong to La Morra.  Brunate features a mostly southern exposure although some portions face southeast.  The vineyard measures about 25 hectares and altitude ranges from 353 meters to 239 meters.

Manuel Marchetti of Marcarini says the wines of Brunate are usually “austere, yet ethereal, notes of spices, mint, licorice, and balsamic are all very typical.”  In fact, many of the wines do show those flavors.  Davide Asselle of Roberto Voerzio says “Brunate is a bit like people from here.  We can be tough and cold at first, but then we warm up over time.”  Within the context of La Morra Barolos, the Brunate wines may seem tough initially, but they possess sweet tannins that make the wines relatively accessible with age.

The 2000 Brunate Barolos

As I have noted previously, the 2000 vintage offers wines that are amazingly open at this stage in their youths and most of these Brunate Barolos can be enjoyed today, although some wines may require more oxygenation.  The wines were tasted blind and are listed in the order tasted.

2000 Marcarini Barolo Brunate—Medium ruby. Notes of menthol, minerals, chocolate, and wet earth on the nose.  This traditionally styled wine features flavors of very ripe red fruits, and plenty of chewy tannins.  Comes across as a bit compressed today, but should become more expansive with bottle age.  90 points/drink after 2010, 12/04

2000 Saglietti Barolo Brunate—Rich dark ruby.  Deep, penetrating nose of spices, cherries in liqueur and toasted oak.   Not terribly expressive on the palate at this stage, showing some red fruits and finishing with a note of menthol that gives this wine good balance, although the oak is a bit much right now.  The first wine I’ve tasted from this producer. 88 points/drink after 2007, 12/04

2000 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate—Deep dark ruby.  Displays an intriguing nose redolent of toasted oak, roasted coffee beans, licorice, and tar which are complemented by flavors of very ripe yet backward fruit and minerals with a very soft and plush mouthfeel.  Very good overall balance.  90 points drink after 2010, 12/04

2000 Enzo Boglietti Barolo Brunate—Very dark ruby.  Huge nose of spices, minerals, menthol, and much toasted oak.  The palate is dense and rich with plenty of sweet ripe, cherry and plum flavors finishing with notable power and sustain, although the oak is a bit much.  89 points/drink after 2007, 12/04

2000 Vietti Barolo Brunate—Burnished ruby.   The nose is very fresh and redolent of flowers, toasted oak, crushed raspberries, and eucalyptus.  There is good persistence and length here with plenty of sweet ripe fruit and a supple, caressing structure.  This took some time to open up.  91 points/drink after 2008, 12/04

2000 Ceretto Barolo Brunate—Beautiful nose of crushed raspberries, menthol, cocoa, anise, tar and toasted oak aromas.  This well-balanced medium-bodied Barolo shows plenty of very ripe red fruit with good concentration and length. A very elegant and stylish modern Barolo.  90 points/drink after 2007, 12/04

2000 Elio Altare Barolo Brunate—Absolutely gorgeous.  Complex nose of spices and menthol.  There is notable concentration on the palate, which shows generous amounts of dark red fruit. This is very round and long, and comes across as very classic.  94 points/drink after 2007, 12/04

2000 Marengo Barolo Brunate—Brooding at first, then turning soft and delicate, with excellent concentration and structure, with sensations of spices, minerals, eucalyptus and rich red fruit.  A wine of much harmony, this is a delicate and understated Barolo.  92 points/drink after 2007, 12/04

2000 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Brunate—No Rating.  Unfortunately my bottle was corked.

-- Antonio Galloni