Tuesday 20 May 2014

Ceretto Tasting Dinner

Last saturday I had invited some friends to a tasting dinner with Barolis from Ceretto as the main event. But we managed to drink a few other bottles as well. A fun night - thanks all!

We started with a truffled Jerusalem artichoke puree and a grilled scallop. It went well with a bottle of
1989 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Joh. Jos. Prüm
A gorgeously mature, soft, elegant nose with notes of dried fruits, rubber tires, candied orange peel, peach lemonade and that wonderful after-the-rain aroma that mature Riesling can show of. In a perfect state of maturity. Very fine.
The taste is cool, refined and graceful with notes of dried apricots, sweet/sour lemons, smoke and some rubbery notes, to add to the complexity. The finish is long with a stunning acidity. I remember drinking this 10 years ago and then it was ungainly, but this bottle displays the virtues of cellaring great Riesling. A lovely bottle.
93p   (tasted 2014/05)

I love sweetbreads! And for this dinner I made a Christmas cracker variant with a chive sauce to go with two white Burgundies.
1996 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, Verget
Premox - baaaah! I have come across some premoxed 96 Burgundy´s, but reading various forums it would seem that at least 50% of 1996 were affected. Not in my experience, at most 1 in 10. And never one from Verget.
The Fourchaume has a big, fresh, potent nose with lots of smoke, sweet summer flowers, burnt butter, almond paste and dried tropical fruits. Great depth. This is really fine. There is some mature notes but this one has far to go.
The taste is big, tight and intense with a great structure, stunning fruit and a beautiful balance. The finish goes on for over a minute. Lemoncream, melted butter and crushed rocks are just some of the many notes in the mouth. Great wine!
94p   (tasted 2014/05)

1996 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons, Verget
The Vaillons has a more restrained character and displays notes of yellow apples, slate, cold butter and almonds on the nose. Medium deep and elegant. Very, very good. Evolves all night in the glass.
The taste is medium bodied and intense with notes of white pears, gravel, summer flowers and some smoky notes. A long, elegant finish. Not as direct as the Fouchaume but almost as good in its more backward way. And both wines should perform on this level for 6-8 years to come.
92p   (tasted 2014/05)

It was now time for the first of several mini flights of Ceretto´s. First up, two bottles of Brunate. I served slices of a quail and cep terrine to go along.
1982 Barolo Brunate, Ceretto
The first of the Ceretto´s is a gorgeously mature Barolo. The nose is the perfect autumn walk in a forest where lots of mushrooms grows and there is a bonfire burning somewhere in a distance. Then throw in some licorice and (over)ripe black cherries and you got this nose. Lovely.
The taste is pure, mature and fresh with notes of undergrowth, licorice, dried mushrooms and rose petals. A long, warm finish with just the right amount of taninns left to clean the palate. I could drink this every day and never get tired.
92p   (tasted 2014/05)

1985 Barolo Brunate, Ceretto
The three year younger version actually feels older. The nose is riper and softer with more moist undergrowth than the 82. The black cherries are a bit more sweet also and there are som pipe tobacco here as well. But the sweetness of the fruit is very yummy. But it lacks the nerve that the 82 has.
The taste follows the nose with warm fruit, a soft backbone and a meaty structure. The finish is long and fine but ends with a dry note. This has maybe passed its zenit by a bit but is drinking fine all the same. Very, very good.
89p   (tasted 2014/05)

Next up I served two Ceretto´s from the greatest vintage ever! :-)
To go along them some finger food in the shape of the legs of the quails, which I had melted to perfection in duck fat for two hours.
1964 Barolo Riserva, Ceretto
Most of the tasters thought (all but me tasted double blind) that this was about the same vintage that the previous two... This masterpiece is still brimming with life and performed in a stunning manner. The nose is deep and profound with notes of mushrooms, black cherries, sugared coffee, dried rose petals and cigarr smoke. Just beautiful. Very, very floral. And some white mold, like in cheese (in a positive way!).
The taste is ripe, mature and complex with notes of sweet red and black cherries, dried mushrooms, licorice, rose petals and gravel. Very long. A lovely warmth in the finish. Perfectly mature. This bottle must have been in a time warp, a bottle tasted 10 year ago from the same stash wasn´t as fresh as this one was. The beauty of wine drinking!
96p   (tasted 2014/05)

1964 Barolo Vigneto Zonchetta 1a Brunate, Ceretto
The 64 with the long name wasn´t as fine as the Riserva. This one displayed its age with notes of ripe plums, dried orange peel, rhum raisins and dried mushrooms on the nose. Molasses after a while. Big and brawny but a little past its best.
The taste is big and sweet with notes of plums, raisins, rosehips and old chocolate. Black tea in the finish which ends on a dry note. Worked with the food but a bit too old on its own.
83p   (tasted 2014/05)

For main course I prepared a pasta dish with rabbit meat, ceps, tarragon and pancetta. These great Bricco Rocche bottles needed some more substantial food.
1982 Barolo Bricco Rocche, Ceretto
I was looking forward to taste this wine again - 6 years ago it was a perfect wine. On this night it didn´t reach that height, but boy, was it a good drink! The nose is hauntingly deep, ethereal and complex with notes of black cherries, dried mushrooms, rose petals and licorice. Very, very fine. Maybe a tad more mature than the bottle for 6 years ago, but not much so.
The taste is ripe, mature and intense with lovely red and black cherries alongside notes of licorice, chocolate, beetroot juice and ceps. The finish goes on for over a minute and there are sandy tannins that leaves support. Great juice!
96p   (tasted 2014/05)

1985 Barolo Bricco Rocche, Ceretto
As with the Brunate´s, the 85 version feels more mature and warm. The 85 Bricco Rocche displays a warm, deep nose with notes of ripe black cherries, mushrooms, forest floor, pipe tobacco and some molasses. A fine warmth. Very, very good.
The taste is big and steady with a fine black cherry fruit and notes of licorice, fried mushrooms, autumn leaves and chocolate. Perfectly mature and with a good structure, this is drinking great this evening, but if I had any remaining bottles I wouldn´t save them for much longer.
92p   (tasted 2014/05)

1990 Barolo Bricco Rocche, Ceretto
Lo and behold - only 5 respectively 8 years younger than the two previous wines, the 90 Bricco Rocche feels like it was 20 years younger! A very concentrated, ripe, almost forceful nose oozes up from the glass with aromas of black cherries, roses, beet roots, tobacco and ceps. A meaty character. Very intense and deep.
The taste is as forceful as the nose leads you to believe - masses of black, ripe fruit, a wall of sandy tannins and a taut, young structure. Absolutely magnificent, but when will this be ready? 2030? Time will tell, but I will surely get back to this creature in, say, 10 years time.
95p   (tasted 2014/05)

Three magnums for six people? Sounds about right! :-) Now it was time for the cheese platter.
1988 Barolo Brunate, Ceretto (magnum)
This 1988 was a bit tired - it showed some restrained plummy fruit and notes of licorice and autumn leaves but there was no real energy in the wine.
The taste confirmed that, a gentle, mature taste with notes of cooked red cherries, undergrowth and some tobacco. With the cheeses it behaved fine but on its own it was a bit hollow and short.
81p   (tasted 2014/05)

1989 Barolo Brunate, Ceretto (magnum)
Good at first, but evolved some cork like taint, although I think it was something else wrong with than TCA. Anyway, not enjoyable.
Not rated   (tasted 2014/05)

1990 Barolo Brunate, Ceretto (magnum)
A deep, mature, warm and inviting nose with notes of creamy black currants, sweet licorice, tobacco, dried mushrooms and forest floor. A very fine warmth. This seems to be in a perfectly mature stage but I would say that is no hurry to drink any remaining bottles.
The taste is big, warm and complex with notes of ripe black cherries, violets, rose petals, mushrooms and tobacco. A very long, intense finish. There is still some perky tannins in the finish. Very, very good.
93p   (tasted 2014/05)

There is something special about old Madeira, and the combination with some good chocolate is magical.
1880 Malmsey, Companiha Vinicola XXX
I had this wine 12 years ago and then it was an almost perfect specimen. The bottle tonight was great but, as with the 82 Bricco Rocche above, it didn´t reach the heights of the previous bottle. The nose is very deep and ethereal with notes of dades, salted nuts, dried caramell, old tobacco and tea leaves. A note of an unwashed dog comes and goes, interesting but not that yummy...
The taste is tight, intense and semi sweet with notes of pan fried nuts, ripe bananas, wet tobacco, licorice and sugared coffe. Very, very, very long with a searing acidity. The taste is more impressive than the nose.
92p   (tasted 2014/05)

I left all decanted bottles as they were in the cellar and tasted them the day after and everyone was the same, in some cases even slightly better - a testament of the keeping power of Barolo.

Check out some other thoughts & fantastic pictures - here.


  1. I must say that the 64 Riserva was the best Barolo I have ever tasted, ok it doesn't say a lot, but I am grateful for that treat. Otherwise its fun to read your notes, as always, but extra fun this time when I have tasted the same wines as you. And I must say, we are very consistant in our rating, good for me to know for the future when you drink and rate something :)


    Btw, Fondreche Nadal 11, what a treat!!

    1. Glad to have you over! And 64 Barolo is something special! :-)
      Yes, the Nadal is great, I am waiting for the 2012 - should be even better.

  2. Many, many, many thanks for a wonderful evening! It was so generous of you. Most of the wines had amazing complexity and freshness, even the L-wine... Notes will appear! Take care!

    1. Glad you could make it! Looking forward to your notes!