You know when you look back on those certain instances in life and you think to yourself, “Man, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!” Maybe you think of an unfortunate circumstance but I am sure you have good ones too. My particular story is a good one.
Meeting Renato Corino and his girlfriend, Liliana, wasn’t anything I was expecting or even hoping for when it happened back in the fall of 2010. I was just trying to make the most of my remaining weeks in Italy after I had dumped my first harvest internship in Asti, which wasn’t going in any way as I had anticipated. I visited them for the first time on my own. But then a couple of weeks later, after coincidentally meeting up with my German Barolo Boys again after five years, I made another visit. The Boys invited me along for Liliana’s birthday and after only a couple of hours, Renato sensed my endless and insatiable quest for knowledge about Nebbiolo and Piemonte. That is when he invited me to harvest in Arborina with them.
In 2011, Renato invited me again to do harvest in all of his Barolo vineyards (and again a bit in 2012 but I was busy with another internship.) All I had wanted was just the chance to experience harvest in Piemonte and Renato and Lili made it possible for me. I picked grapes, bottled wine, helped fill barrels, rode in tractors through the vineyards …
I’ve been able to try old vintages of Renato’s wines and new ones that haven’t been released. I’ve been given the opportunity to try other special wines, not only from Piemonte, but from other parts of Italy, and also from Burgundy, Croatia, Germany, and Austria. I’ve been a part of countless birthday parties and even hosted my own tastings of fun California wines at their house. Along the way I’ve made even more friends and met even more interesting people, all because of Renato and Lili. Their friendships are some of the most valuable to me.
If you’re a regular reader here, you may recall my story from a couple of years ago about meeting Antonio Galloni and tasting Renato Corino’s Barolo wines with him. Well, this past fall, I was lucky enough to be invited to join in on Galloni’s visit again. It is always fun and a learning experience. This time Stefano, Renato’s son, joined us and we tasted the 2003’s and 2010’s.
Along with that experience, my notes below come from two other separate tastings and Liliana’s birthday party. On October 10, luck made it possible for me meet up again with Sarah from Switzerland, a mutual friend who I originally met on that special day in 2010 when my Germans had invited me along to Liliana’s birthday party. For the October 26 visit, I brought my friends who were visiting from the US, Jordana and Diane.
And so, here are my notes from the fall of 2013. For the sake of clarity, I review the current releases in a logical tasting order and then I outline the other wines with the date tasted following each review.
Notes from 10 & 26 ottobre, 2013
Dolcetto d’Alba 2012. Dolcetto d’Alba DOC. Smells like cinnamon toast, topped with strawbery jam! This year’s Dolcetto reminded me of Renato’s Nebbiolo: a bit delicate, fresh, and bright with soft tannins. ★☆
Barbera d’Alba 2012. Barbera d’Alba DOC. A spicy one with all manner of dark fruit: blueberries, blackberries, black plums. A bit tart but it is Barbera so no surprise. In my experience, this wine reaches its peak in about 2-3 years. ★☆
Vigna Pozzo 2011. Barbera d’Alba DOC. The Pozzo Barbera is always intense, flavorful, and expressive. Because of a huge demand, Renato is releasing the Pozzo and Nebbiolo d’Alba sooner than he used to. So I advise you wait a bit to open. This time the Pozzo, to me, was not quite as harmonized as it could be but that is probably because it is young. On some bottles, I smelled starchy fruit and baking squash (typical sort of “green” fruit aromas I’d get from a pre-released wine). On others I smelled more of what I’m used to in Pozzo: stewed plums, black licorice, pine forest, and vanilla. It is already supple on the palate but I feel like it needs some time to equilibrate. [I don’t feel I can give a score yet.]
Nebbiolo d’Alba 2012. Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC. Perfumed with vanilla, orange, strawberry, and a little bit of teriyaki beef jerkey. On the palate: cherry, candy apple, dusty tannins. [I don’t feel I can give a score yet.]
Barolo 2009. Barolo DOCG. Marzipan and fruitcake, red plums and cherries, roses, violets, dust, cigarette smoke, and the smell of raw walnuts. This wine involves you, gets your senses going. If still a bit young, it is full of juicy black plum flavors in the mouth. It is sturdy and finishes with fuzzy tannins, making it entirely drinkable now. Or you could wait on it too! ★★
Arborina 2009. Barolo DOCG. The bouquet on this one is elaborate: orange peel, orange cream, raw wild strawberries, cherry pie, roses, cologne, and cement. On the palate it is full of ripe and cooked dark fruit but there is also a tartness. It’s sturdier than usual years and needs some time to figure itself out. ☆
Rocche dell’Annunziata. 2009. Barolo DOCG. The Rocche expresses itself well in this bold vintage: fresh and baked red and black plums with lots of sweet wood smoke. Full, dark, gravely, and muscular, showing lots of stamina. ★★
Vecchie Vigne Riserva 2007. Barolo DOCG. A special selection of old vine Nebbiolo coming from Rocche dell’Annunziata; aged for approximately 2 years longer than the other Baroli. During my visit on October 10 I had the occasion to try this one from the end of a bottle, and also from a just-opened bottle. The already-opened one: sweet cherry tart, mint, and moss. Fresh figs, blueberries, dried cherries, and campfire smoke with powerful but lush tannins. The just-opened bottle: Floral with scents of dried cherries. Rugged on the palate. Needs a few more years and will age for quite some time! Drinking wine from a bottle that has been opened for a few days always helps you see how the wine may evolve over time. This was a fun experiment! ★
Arborina 2003. Barolo DOCG. Sundried tomatoes and a big bouquet of just-cut red roses. Refined tannins, still holding up nicely. 11/4/2013 ★★
Rocche dell’Annunziata 2003. Barolo DOCG. It smells like someone spilled all of the pumpkin pie spice! Rugged tannins and amazingly fresh fruit on the palate. 11/4 ★★★
Vecchie Vigne 2003. Barolo DOCG. (Poured from a magnum.) The Vecchie Vigne from 2003 is a vintage that Renato and his brother, Giuliano, made together under the Corino label and came mostly (if not all) from old vines in the Giachini cru. Impressive wine, tasting much fresher than its age. Dark cherry, Frangelico, and baking spices. Bold and completely enjoyable. 11/4 ★★★
Barolo 2010. Barolo DOCG. Brick color. Smelling particularly dusty at first but opening up to express sweet maraschino cherries. Masculine in structure with Bing cherry, smoke, and ash. Wonderful. 11/4 ★★☆
Arborina 2010. Barolo DOCG. More pink in color. This Barolo is bursting with perfume—roses, violets, citrus. Exquisite and plush texture. Looking forward to more of this one! 11/4 ★★★
Rocche dell’Annunziata 2010. Barolo DOCG. Cedar on the campfire! Stewed tomatoes and red berries. It feels a bit rustic on the palate but all of its characteristics integrate nicely together already. Strong and brawny; yum! 10/26 & 11/4 ★★★
Vecchie Vigne Riserva 2010 Barolo DOCG. (Taken straight from the barrique. Won’t be released for a few more years.) This special-selection old vine Nebbiolo comes from Rocche dell’Annunziata and is aged for approximately 2 years longer than the other Baroli. Big burly wine with tons of potential. Toasting hazelnuts, sweet cherry candle, candy canes, and a big bouquet of roses and violets. Big and coarse tannins but they will ripen out, I am sure! 11/4 ★★☆
Vecchie Vigne Riserva 2008. Barolo DOCG. (This vintage should be released in 2014 with the other 2010 Barolo wines.) This special-selection old vine Nebbiolo comes from Rocche dell’Annunziata and is aged for approximately 2 years longer than the other Baroli. Sumptuous yet dignified. Sweet, dark, ripe cherry throughout, which is balanced by bold smokey aromas and citrus. 11/4 ★★☆
Arborina 2004. Barolo DOCG. Worn leather, sweet oranges, and flowers. Bright with little ripened fruit left. The tannins, as well, have softened but the wine still feels refined, delicate, and pleasurable on the palate. 10/26 ★★
Other wines tasted in 2013:
Vecchie Vigne 1999; Rocche dell’Annunziata 1991, 1996, 2000(Amazing! ★★★), 2011 & 2012(After so many, I got these confused in my glasses so can’t say much yet!); and Vigna Pozzo 1989. Still holding up!
PS- I know Antonio Galloni’s reviews of Renato’s 2010s have been out for a couple of weeks. I haven’t looked yet. But I will as soon as I hit the “Publish” button here …